View Full Version : Sandblasting Options

Sarah Ford
05-14-2015, 9:10 AM
I'm new to posting the forum though I've been reading the posts for a while. I'm currently running a Universal PLS 6.75 60 watt laser that we use primarily for stone etching and brick engraving. Because of the materials we spend the majority of our time laser etching, we get a ton of requests to sandblast on natural stone. Most of the stones we would be doing could fit into a standard cabinet, but we do get the occasional request to do boulders, which just wouldn't fit.

After all of my research I guess my big question is: Is it worth it to spend the money on the all inclusive Rayzist system or is the smart move to build our own system from Harbor Freight? I suppose my biggest fears with going the HF route would be how effective the filtration and media reclamation would be, but the biggest positive I can think of using HF is that the pressure pot would be independent of the cabinet and could be used on boulders and other objects that wouldn't fit into the cabinet. I'm open to any and all opinions on this.

Scott Shepherd
05-14-2015, 9:27 AM
I know this is all anecdotal, but we have an Ikonics system and a local guy has a HF system. He called in a panic about 6:00 one night, asking if we had a nozzle he could borrow. I told him to forget the nozzle, come use the cabinet. He came by with a stack of items and I got him setup and he started blasting. He couldn't believe it. He couldn't believe he could see the work all the way through the job. After blasting, running back to his shop, blasting, for a couple of hours, I asked him if everything was going well. He said "I'll be ordering one of these tomorrow, I can't believe the difference".

Now, that's all just a story. Perhaps there are ways to make it all better and more usable and less cloudy. Perhaps he didn't know what he was doing. I don't have all those answers, but I can say that we are VERY happy with the more expensive system, it's filtering, etc. I also love the arm rests and the ability to stick parts in through the hand holes and not having to open the doors every time.

Mike Null
05-14-2015, 9:59 AM
I've had both and I concur with what Steve says 100%.

I don't like sandblasting and sold my Rayzist outfit several years ago. A customer more or less forced me back into sandblasting and I went the HF route. The shortcomings you identified of the HF equipment are spot on. You can still buy a separate HF pressure pot if you wish and use it independently of your primary system. The HF pressure pots are pretty good stuff considering their low price.

Do a search of posts by Keith Outten on the system he rigged to do some free standing work.

Oh yes, we're very glad you joined SMC and will look forward to more of your posts.

Ross Moshinsky
05-14-2015, 10:26 AM
If you're in an business where you can see yourself turning on your sandblast equipment regularly (several times a week) or doing large runs, you'll probably want to spend the money and get a professional setup. If you see yourself using the equipment only a few times a month/year, you'll find a budget setup will work fine.

If you're looking to save money, used exposure units are on CL which could save you quite a bit. That money saved could get you a much better compressor, which will be pretty important when blasting stone. You're looking at an $800 compressor at minimum.

Bill George
05-14-2015, 11:22 AM
I agree with Ross on Craigslist finds, and you will need a Big as lots of CFM and 240 volt compressor. I also think by the time you get done... would you do enough work to really justify it?

Gary Hair
05-14-2015, 11:36 AM
I'm going to be counter to most of the posts, but that's pretty typical for me... I have two HF cabinets and three HF pressure pots. I do a lot of sandcarving and really can't see any justification in the high-dollar systems that are available. There isn't anything that they do for several thousand $ that I can't do with mine for well under 1 thousand. That's not including my compressor, it's a 40HP diesel powered rotary screw that puts out 125cfm at 100 psi. With a few modifications you can have a nice setup using HF equipment, but if you don't want to take the time to put it together then you don't really have much choice besides buying something ready to go. As for filtration and media reclamation - I use a HF exhaust blower and send everything outside and my cabinet stays very clear. I built an enclosed box below my cabinet that holds a bucket that the media falls into, so reclaiming it is a non-event. I'm in the process of moving to a shop this weekend so I can't post pics of my setup, but can next week if you'd like to see it.


Joe Pelonio
05-14-2015, 9:24 PM
I wouldn't spend the money on it because there is a local rock supply that sells landscape rocks/boulders, and has a huge walk-in/forklift in booth, and the compressor is about 15' high. I used to cut the stencils for the previous owner
and also for his sandblasted wood signs, but when he sold it the new owners got their own plotter to cut them. It takes a lot of time and abrasive to cut deeply enough into granite, and it can fry a small compressor in no time. I tried it with my 5hp 30 gallon and had to keep waiting for the pressure to build back up, but eventually got a decent image - on sandstone.

Gary Hair
05-14-2015, 9:46 PM
it can fry a small compressor in no time. I tried it with my 5hp 30 gallon

Definitely a job that requires the right tools. Everything else is secondary, the compressor is primary! I can tell you that the difference between my 5hp, 240v, 60gal, and the 40hp diesel is like night and day. The electric ran almost continuously but the diesel rarely goes above idle - and that's even using larger nozzles and higher pressure.

Sarah Ford
05-15-2015, 9:15 AM
Thank you all for your opinions and recommendations. As a little back story, we are actually a brick and stone distributor that got into the engraving game a few years before I started. We have a pretty high demand for sandblasting. The only competition that we have in regards to a large outfit with a walk-in booth for engraving boulders and large rock is hours away and wont touch one-off or smaller jobs.

I think at this point I'm leaning towards the Rayzist and then getting an additional HF pressure pot for things that need to be done outside the cabinet. I'm going to take all of the advise about getting a monster of a compressor, though. I looked up Keith Outten's rig for big outside projects and it really got me thinking, though i'm not sure that approach would work on boulders, it will however work great on flagstone slabs.

Gary, once you move into your new shop, I would love to see pictures of your HF setup. There is still something very tempting about getting the cabinet and pressure pot cheap so that we could pour more money into the expensive compressor.