Should You Use Glass Beads or Crushed Glass During Abrasion?

When choosing an abrasive to finish apart, the choice may come down to a decision between crushed glass and glass beads. Each is a strong choice, but which one is best depends on what your end goal is. Glass beads are great for leaving a bright, matte finish on both aluminum and steel substrates. Crushed glass on the other hand is best for stripping paint, rust, or heavy coatings so that you’re left with a clean surface on the workpiece.

Best uses for glass beads

When you’re finishing metal, glass beads are the way to go. They are also commonly used to etch or frost glass, as well as the following uses:

  • Finishing – Due to the variety of sizes glass beads can come in combined with other factors affecting finish, there is a huge range of different surface finishes you can apply to a workpiece.
  • Cleaning – Glass beads can clean a surface completely without leaving ferrous contaminants or changing the part’s tolerances.
  • Deburring – Glass beads make easy work of burrs on a surface, leaving it with a smoothly peened surface and no damage.
  • Peening – You can peen with glass beads to increase a part’s fatigue limits and reduce the tensile stress on your metal parts.

Glass beads are favored for their ability to offer a wide range of finishes and their environmental friendliness. With glass beads, you can change their size, the distance of your blast nozzle, the air pressure, the workpiece shape, and the type of blasting system to create all kinds of different finishes.

Glass beads are environmentally friendly due to their physical makeup and reusability. Glass beads don’t contain free silica, a concern in most metal finishing operations. Free silica releases toxic chemicals during abrasion, requiring you to take extra safety measures to protect your workers and the environment. If you can contain the glass beads you use in something like a sandblast cabinet, for example, you should be able to reuse them again on another part, saving you time and money.

Best uses for crushed glass

If you plan to apply multiple coatings to a part after abrasion, crushed glass is the way to go. Due to its shape, it creates a deeper etch on the workpiece for better surface preparation. Crushed glass is also environmentally friendly and improves performance in many ways, including:

  • Non-toxic chemical properties which reduce pollution
  • Chemically inert and non-reactive, so it’s safe to use around water
  • Translucent appearance, improving visibility and therefore productivity
  • Made from recycled glass, so it can be safely disposed of and used as many times as needed
  • Contains very little silica, making it safer for employees and the environment
  • Less dense than most abrasives, so you use less material at a time

Plastic Service Center | Glass beads, crushed glass, and other abrasives

Plastic Service Center is your go-to supplier for abrasives, resins, and more. We only carry high-quality products so that we can guarantee your satisfaction with what we provide. We also carry over 4,000,000 pounds of inventory at any given time between our strategically placed warehouses. This allows us to provide you with as much as you need as soon as you need it, no matter where you’re at in all of North America. That includes the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico, we can ship all throughout the continent.

If you’d like to know more about our glass beads or crushed glass, give us a call today at (586) 371-7886 or send in an online contact form!