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Ross Moshinsky
03-01-2010, 3:17 AM
I'm a new member so I'll do a quick intro post. We have a 3000+sq ft retail store in NJ where we do primarily recognition awards, trophies, ASI, police badges, bronze, ect ect ect.

Our Equipment:
New Hermes IS400
New Hermes IS6000
New Hermes LS100
HP LaserJet 4550 with Might Press Heat Press (Sublimation for metal)

Anywho, we are looking to add something to do crystal and glass awards. I've tried doing glass on the laser and I've never liked the result. It's always chipped rather than clean lines. I've done a few tricks and tried different methods and in the end, it doesn't look right. We are looking to buy a basic sandblasting setup to handle the job. I'd also like to play with using the sandblaster on alternative medias where my 30W laser is really pushed to the extreme thus taking a long time to run. (Example: We did a fake bronze Ikonik Metals 11x17 board and it took hours because we had to run 3 passes to get an appropriate depth so we could enamel fill it afterwards.)

My thoughts is to get a Harbor Freight 40 Gal Cabinet (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=93608), a moderate price compressor with a fairly large tank(we have one currently, but it defintely needs to be replaced) (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=94667). I'll probably hook it up to a dust collector that I have sitting around the shop I rarely use or just get a shop vac if the dust collector doesn't work great. For media, I plan on using Aluminum Oxide media from McMaster Carr. To create the masks, I plan on just cutting them out with the laser. I don't see any reason to go the route of exposing images to create masks. Seems like a bit of a waste of money when I already have the laser.

My questions:

Anyone run a rig like this? I don't see it being an issue but I see people like Ikonic selling their setups for A LOT more money and am curious to see what I'm missing. Also, does anyone think there is a need for a foot pedal to control the flow of media? Any tricks I should know? Is there another cost effective way to create the masks other than using the laser? Vinyl cutter possibly?

Ikonic is offering a $250 class locally to me, but it just seemed like a lot of money because that would be half the cost of my setup. I figure the money would be better spent buying my equipment. Not to mention, I figure a lot of what they talk about will probably be directed towards using their equipment and I can't see me spending $5000 on their setup. Just seems way over priced.

Thanks in advance for your advice. This seems like a great forum with a lot of first hand insight.

Rodne Gold
03-01-2010, 4:23 AM
You cant really cut the masks on a laser unless you use a laser friendly resist and put the piece in with the mask already applied (we use heavy gauge self adhesive masking tape)
Vinyl cutters are ok for bigger stuff, but you cant do any detail on em cos you cant cut and weed very small letters which you would probably use on awards.
As an aside , we use our sandblasting setup almost exclusively on getting matte effects on media or clearing the residues when we chemically etch metals , I don't think I have used it on glass or awards in 4 years and we have a good market as we are in the awards business...
As for the rest of the stuff , someone in the USA will advise.

Mike Null
03-01-2010, 8:44 AM
The most important part of the system is the pressure pot. HF has one for about $100. (the siphon system is not for the work you want to do) I would advise using silicon carbide as aluminum oxide generates tremendous static electricity which will be a real nuisance.

Joe Pelonio
03-01-2010, 9:04 AM
My sandblasting needs have been large wood signs requiring a walk-in booth and room sized compressor with 2" hose, which I send out. I have, however, done plotter-cut stencils for a customer that does glassware using a very simple airbrush made for that purpose. The vinyl is cut and taped unweeded, then weeded after application to the glass.

I have gone down to some pretty small detail but in some cases she has been forced to do the photo exposure method.

Kenneth Hertzog
03-01-2010, 9:30 AM
Ross
go to eastwood.com
they are closer to you and have a bunch of different
blast media as well as equipment to do small work
ken

Gary Hair
03-01-2010, 11:21 AM
Ross,
That is the exact cabinet I have and it works fine. Mike is right about the pressure pot, but it's not an option, it's a necessity. Forget about that compressor, it WON'T work. It won't keep up with a pressure pot and there's no way it will keep up with a siphon feed. You need something with a 60 gallon tank, 3-5 HP and a minimum of 15cfm at 135psi. You can expect to pay close to $1,000 for a good compressor. If you go cheap on it you can expect it to run almost continuously and burn out very quickly. When a compressor runs that much it will create lots of heat which will creat lots of moisture in the air - very bad for blasting.

If you want lots of great info on sandcarving, you should check out the forum at cuttingedgesandcarving dot com. You'll find a bunch of people there who are very willing to help and guide you through your sandcarving - just like this place but specific to sandcarving.

Gary

Richard Rumancik
03-01-2010, 12:00 PM
Ross - a few comments.

As an experiment I rastered sign vinyl (through the vinyl, but not through the backing) and successfully transferred it to ceramic mugs and blasted. I don't do production sandblasting but it looked promising. You can buy laserable mylar tapes that work the same way but you will have to try and see if you like the result. The laser method is more suitable if you are doing personalized items. It is more expensive than photo resist if you are doing hundreds of the same thing. It takes too long to raster each mask.

If you are doing a flat glass award you can apply the vinyl/mylar directly to the glass and raster just through, then sandblast. In this case it is probably more efficient than photo methods. You need to find a material that will adhere well and stand up to your blasting. If a piece blows off you may ruin your award. Centers of small text characters are especially troublesome.

Buy a compressor with a belt drive and cast iron compressor. The direct drive units with aluminum head are disposable consumer units. They are okay for very light duty work. The motors run too fast and are too noisy. (Noise could be a problem in any event. You need to consider where you can locate the compressor.)

Also consider a PAB gun. It is on my wish list if I get into sandcarving more extensively. I modified a cheap (Harbour Freight quality) syphon sandblasting unit to do pressure blasting. Syphon system have very low efficiency and will not work for this.

http://www.pabblaster.com/PAB%20Gun.htm (http://www.pabblaster.com/PAB%20Gun.htm)

If you use alternate blasting media then buy a separate pressure tank for each. You will not have fun changing media in a tank.

Gordon Kircher
03-01-2010, 12:07 PM
Your setup will work for simple surface etching on small groups of awards/glasses. When you start doing larger runs, you will burn through your compressor. I know from experience.

You'll also need a pressure pot. The pressure pot allows more control with the pressure and abrasive.

The training from Ikonics is training on how to use there PhotoBrasive products. This looks like hands on training and should get you going real quickly with their product. They also have Laser Tape..... a resist you can cut out on the Laser, then Blast it.

Sandblasting has a smoother/cleaner look than the laser.....but only if you know what your looking at. For simple names on glasses, most people can't tell the difference (when your laser is dialed in right). You also save a mass amount of time with the simple stuff on the laser.

I also suggest going to cuttingedgesandcarving dot com. Another good group of people...

Gordon

Ross Moshinsky
03-01-2010, 3:07 PM
Thanks for all of the comments. A lot of good advice here.

1) I'm definitely going to use the laser friendly mask to cut the stencils out at first. If someone decided to buy a run of 50 awards, I'd be willing to make an investment into getting a photo exposure unit if I felt it was worth it.

2) I'm willing to experiment with medias. I saw silica sand was a good one and I also saw that aluminum oxide was a good alternative. McMaster just happens to be about 1.5 hour from me so I can order one day and get it the next. Prices are typically pretty good and their service is always great. I could even buy it from HF if I was really hard up.

3) The cabinet is definitely the one I'm going to get. I have a HF a few minutes from the shop, I can get it for dirt cheap with a 20% off coupon, and it's gotten good ratings from a lot of people who have them so to me it's the best way to go. I'm honestly really surprised that a siphon unit is not enough power to do simple glass and acrylic etching. $100 more for the pressurized blaster is not a huge amount of money, so if I need it, I'll get it. Not really an issue.

4) As for compressors, I know $1000 compressor would be ideal. I was hoping to avoid such a heavy duty unit. Sounds like I'm going to need to go on Craigslist hunting for a deal. Looks like I need at minimum a 60 gal unit and something will basically keep up with the unit.

5) A lot of people I've talked to thinks I'm nuts when I say I don't like the laser's output on acrylic and glass. I've seen large companies doing their glass awards with lasers. I've lasered glass in the past. In the end, I've always thought the chipping and overall appearance has been subpar. Can my customers tell the difference? I don't know honestly, but it doesn't really matter because I know the difference. Could do it with my laser? Sure. But I don't like the output and farming the work out cuts my profit and makes me wait 2-3 weeks. So I think this is a good investment for the future.

Gary Hair
03-01-2010, 3:50 PM
2) I'm willing to experiment with medias. I saw silica sand was a good one and I also saw that aluminum oxide was a good alternative.

Please, Please, Please don't use silica sand for blasting!!! If you want to know why then do a google search for "silicosis". If you are using silica, it's not "if" but "when" you'll get it. Aluminum Oxide or Silicon Carbide are the only things to use, I kinda like the shock from AO, it keeps me awake... :eek:


I'm honestly really surprised that a siphon unit is not enough power to do simple glass and acrylic etching. $100 more for the pressurized blaster is not a huge amount of money, so if I need it, I'll get it. Not really an issue.


It's not that there isn't enough power in a siphon unit, it's how it works that makes it very inneficient and difficult to control at low pressures. You need twice the CFM to run a siphon vs. pressure pot. I can run my pressure pot as low as 5psi if I want very fine control, I can also run it at 90 psi for blasting granite. You don't have that option with a siphon system.

I have a 3hp, 60 gallon compressor from Home Depot, Husky brand, and it just keeps up with me when I'm blasting at anything above 50psi. I wish I would have listened when I bought it and bought the next step up. It's hard to swallow $1,000 vs $500, but I wish I would have.

Gary

Larry Bratton
03-01-2010, 11:16 PM
Richard said-
"As an experiment I rastered sign vinyl (through the vinyl, but not through the backing)"

You did? and your machine hasn't rotted down yet? This is a definite NO NO due to the PVC that is reported to be in vinyl in vast quantities. Apparently you survived the poisonous gas cloud too. Be careful with that stuff .

Gordon Kircher
03-01-2010, 11:43 PM
Sand is nasty and not forgiving. You have to tape everything off!!! I'm not going to even get into the breathing aspect of it. Once I switched to Silicon Carbide.......never looked back.... I keep recycling it till it gets vacuumed away. AO or SC are more forgiving (they won't scratcht he back of the part).

Again, you have soooo much control with a pressure pot. I use it for shading (2 - 5 psi) and for multistage carving (20 - 40 psi). If you use the photobrasive, you can control the amount of grit you want. It will grow with you.

G

Ross Moshinsky
03-02-2010, 12:26 AM
Sounds good. No silica sand. I'll stick with the aluminum oxide and the silicon carbide.

Like I said, the pressure pot isn't a big deal. Can I get away with one of these?

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=40925
or
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=34202

Honestly, I've had pretty good luck with Harbor Freight tools for the most part. The only tool I wish I bought from a more reputable brand was my compound mitre saw. The angles on it are WAY off. With that said, some stuff they sell is absolute garbage and I understand that.

I'm still waiting for my approval from cuttingedgesandcarving.com so maybe you guys will know, where do you stand on the need of a foot pedal? Coming from someone that has done a bit of welding, I can imagine a foot pedal is a fantastic thing to have with these units and it doesn't seem like the HF cabinet or blaster come with a pedal. Is it as important as I imagine?

Mark Plotkin
03-02-2010, 1:06 AM
Ross,

I have a laser and a blast cabinet from ikonics. I also have the photo resit set up. I do glass awards and granite tiles on a regular basis. Here is my .02 worth. Go to a show and try the blast cabinets and different resists. I keep the 12 and 6 inch laser tape in stock. Like others have said, the laser works great for flat awards ( which i sell for over $100 each) on mass produced items the photo method is faster. I have the 5hp 60 gallon compressor and wished I had spent another $200 for the two stage model. The foot pedal is great, it came with the unit so I don't really know how others work without it.
I think I spent about $4000 on everything with the compressor. I have made that money back many times over. My best job was a city that installs granite tiles on their sidewalks to mark for tree donors, they had the choice of lasered or sandblasted at three times the price and choose the blasted ones. First order was well over $1000.

Buy the best once, cringe on the price and never look back!

good luck!

Gary Hair
03-02-2010, 2:48 AM
Ross,
Either of those pressure pots is fine, I have the larger one, two of them actually. I should have bought the smaller one for 220 grit and kept the larger one for coarser grit, but the larger one was on sale so I got it. You might want to wait til it goes on sale, it's usually about $80 or so on sale.

A foot pedal is nice, I don't have one but wish I did. The other thing I'd like to have is a PAB gun. Talk about control! look up pabblaster dot com and look at the PAB gun. It's a bit expensive but everyone says it's worth it. Same thing with a foot pedal, I believe, a bit expensive but worth it.

Spend some time on cutting edge, you'll cut your learning curve way down. Ask lots of questions too.

Gary


Sounds good. No silica sand. I'll stick with the aluminum oxide and the silicon carbide.

Like I said, the pressure pot isn't a big deal. Can I get away with one of these?

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=40925
or
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=34202

Honestly, I've had pretty good luck with Harbor Freight tools for the most part. The only tool I wish I bought from a more reputable brand was my compound mitre saw. The angles on it are WAY off. With that said, some stuff they sell is absolute garbage and I understand that.

I'm still waiting for my approval from cuttingedgesandcarving.com so maybe you guys will know, where do you stand on the need of a foot pedal? Coming from someone that has done a bit of welding, I can imagine a foot pedal is a fantastic thing to have with these units and it doesn't seem like the HF cabinet or blaster come with a pedal. Is it as important as I imagine?

Richard Rumancik
03-02-2010, 1:23 PM
Richard said-
. . .your machine hasn't rotted down yet? This is a definite NO NO due to the PVC that is reported to be in vinyl in vast quantities. Apparently you survived the poisonous gas cloud too. Be careful with that stuff .


Oh, if I had only known! My machine is covered with corrosion and just humms when I try to start it.

Larry Bratton
03-02-2010, 2:53 PM
Oh, if I had only known! My machine is covered with corrosion and just humms when I try to start it.
:) You need to pay attention Richard.

Robert Rosensteel
03-02-2010, 9:42 PM
I started out making my first cabinet out of a metal hot box for food trays and using a pickup tube type blaster. Than bought a system from a company that charge to much for a small pressure unit and cared very little about you after the sale was made.Next made a trip to company in Ohio and and bought a pressure pot and dust collector,cabinet package that is 6 ft. 2 ft deep.(double glove) with 1 hp dust collector. I use this for bigger stone,tile some wood and bricks with Silcone carbide.The next cabinet was from Glastar and this I use for glass,small stone, and some metal. I was told that Norm Dobbins(taught classes) had a lot to do with this design of cabinet and foot valve.This system has paid for its self at least 200 times over. They are not cheap but the system is very good work horse.I use Photobrasive film and they have always treated me good and have been there when I needed help.I would make sure to buy a good dust collector like the dc 176 model (3/4 hp or more). The can type with the weighted bag was not good to me.Check around on the net for prices for grits of media with other companies and you will be saving alot of money buying in your area. Thanks to Gary he told me about using the rubber stencil for bricks that can be cut on the laser.I have engrave stone and bricks for over 24 years and have ever stop learning from job to job.The Sawmillcreek has been a great tool and has great people to learn and share many skills from.

Bill Cunningham
03-04-2010, 11:20 PM
I'm not sure if the HF blast cabinets come assembled or in a flat pack and you put it all together your self. IF it's a 'kit' and you have to assemble it, buy a tube or two of silicone for your caulking gun, and put a bead on everything you bolt together. If you don't, your going to find little piles of AO or SC growing under the machine, as well as a definite layer of dust over everything in your shop.. These cabinet 'leak' like a sieve. And, if there is a 'light kit' buy it your going to need it..

Dan Hintz
03-05-2010, 8:58 AM
Out of curiosity, how do the better (okay, and the cheapy) cabinets deal with the air pressure? You're pouring a lot of air into a sealed cabinet, so it has to go somewhere (and it will have a lot of dust coming with it). Do they have filters that lead back into the room?

Kenneth Hertzog
03-05-2010, 9:20 AM
either a vacume or dust collector
if you did nothing you would not see your item being blasted

Gary Hair
03-05-2010, 12:36 PM
They do require assembly and you absolutely need to use silicone to seal it up. I didn't on the first one I assembled for a friend and it leaks all over the place.

Gary


I'm not sure if the HF blast cabinets come assembled or in a flat pack and you put it all together your self. IF it's a 'kit' and you have to assemble it, buy a tube or two of silicone for your caulking gun, and put a bead on everything you bolt together. If you don't, your going to find little piles of AO or SC growing under the machine, as well as a definite layer of dust over everything in your shop.. These cabinet 'leak' like a sieve. And, if there is a 'light kit' buy it your going to need it..

Ross Moshinsky
03-05-2010, 9:53 PM
Just a small update:

Next weekend I'll be going down to Atlantic City for ISS. Ikonik will be there along with Universal and Epilog. I'll check out their setup first hand and talk their ear off. I'm still fairly sure I'm going with the HF cabinet and Pot since it's significantly less than the Ikonik rig, but I might be interested in their exposure/mask system.

Bill Cunningham
03-09-2010, 9:24 PM
They do require assembly and you absolutely need to use silicone to seal it up. I didn't on the first one I assembled for a friend and it leaks all over the place.

Gary

If your friends machine is still leaking, a spray can of rocker panel protectant (it's basically spray rubber) sprayed onto all the inside seams and joints will seal them up, and the blast has no effect on the rubber coating.. It will also waterproof anchor lockers, and other parts of a boat.. Not just for stone chips anymore!