Glass beading uses tiny lead-free glass beads made of soda lime glass to provide surface treatment on a wide range of different objects and surface types. Glass is one of the largest blasting medias used in abrasive blasting, more commonly known as sandblasting, to remove dirt, fungus, and other impurities. The glass beading process projects glass beads at a high velocity powered by pressurized air, removing the top layer of the object’s surface. Glass beading not only improves surface finish, but also has a positive impact on the corrosion resistance properties of the object. Depending on the application, glass beading may occur in multiple stages using different grades of glass beads to further improve the surface finish. Glass beading is also versatile, as it can be applied to an entire workpiece or target specific areas to provide a banded appearance. This process is also environmentally friendly and more cost-effective than other abrasive blasting methods, as the beads may cleaned and reused.
Glass Beading Processes
Highland Equipment uses glass beading as a tool for the following five processes:
- Finishing. Glass beading can be used to texture a surface after it has been coated.
- Cleaning. Dirt, rust, previous paint and coatings, fungus, and more can be removed using glass beading as a cleaning method.
- Deburring. Welding and machining processes can leave behind burrs on a surface, which are removable using glass beading.
- Peening. Peening with glass beads adds light cracks into a surface to mitigate stress from compression.
- Pretreatment. Glass beading can be used to smooth surfaces prior to chemical treatments such as anodic oxidation or electroforming.
Glass Beading Applications
Common applications by material include:
- Glass beading can be used to blast several types of metal surface materials.
- Glass beading is often used as the final surface treatment of stainless steel.
- Prior to chemical processes, painting, or transparent coating, aluminum is often pretreated with glass beading. Nickel and chrome painting also use glass beading as a pre-treatment technique.
- Other non-ferrous metals suitable for various glass beading treatments include brass, bronze, and copper.
Glass beading may also be used to refinish older parts, such as motor components, decorative objects, interior accessories, and other metal objects suffering from surface corrosion or wear.