MicroBlasting is sandblasting on a micro-precision scale.
It is specifically designed to benefit small, intricate, and high-value parts. Unlike traditional sandblasting, MicroBlasting uses very fine abrasive media and a miniature nozzle to produce a controllable abrasive jet that can target and remove microns of material. The result is a reliable and repeatable method for deburring, texturing, cleaning, stripping, etching or milling part surfaces. MicroBlasting has applications across industries on a wide variety of part compositions. Comco systems, in particular, are used to process medical implants, aerospace components, semi-conductor devices, machine parts, electronics, dental implants, and more. This versatile technology is in use everywhere, from multi-national manufacturers to individual job shops. There is much more to this technology. Scroll down and see.
MicroBlasting Nozzle (L) vs. Grit Blasting Nozzle (R)
Is it bead or grit blasting?
MicroBlasting is frequently confused with bead blasting, grit blasting, or venturi-type blasting; however, it delivers 10x more precision through the use of smaller, more focused nozzles and very fine abrasive media. Bead, grit, and venturi-type blasting require large amounts of air and abrasive to produce a shotgun-like effect; whereas, MicroBlasting uses less of each to produce a machine-gun effect. The key difference is focus. MicroBlasting lines up abrasive particles one behind the other to form a tightly-focused stream.
How consistent is the abrasive feed?
The key to a Comco micro-precision sandblaster is the modulated abrasive feed. Think of a salt shaker: the technology of other micro-precision sandblasters rely on a series of components similar to a salt shaker. They shake abrasive out into the air stream, and that means an unreliable amount of abrasive exits the nozzle. Comco systems feature a modulator that pulses consistently, pulling the same amount of abrasive particles into the abrasive stream with every pulse.
This is a Precision Tool
Unlike traditional sandblasting, MicroBlasting uses:
✓ very fine abrasive (17.5 – 350 µ)
✓ small nozzles (0.018″ – 0.125″)
✓ angled, extended, and custom-designed nozzles
✓ adjustable blast pressure (10-190 psi)
For Precision Jobs
✓ Get a consistent surface finish to a specific Ra (5-150 µ).
✓ Texture to a sharp delineation (0.007″).
✓ Deburr micro-parts with intricate designs.
✓ Etch uniform channels to a specified depth.
✓ Strip thin coatings from sensitive surfaces.
With a Few Limitations
While MicroBlasting is a versatile technology, it is not designed for the following:
✓ coverage over large areas
✓ use with very coarse abrasives
✓ large burr removal
✓ achieving a highly-polished surface
What can MicroBlasting do?
MicroBlasting is driven by four main variables: abrasive size, abrasive type, abrasive quantity, and velocity. Adjust one or two of these variables and your system can shift from deburring to texturing. It’s that simple and that versatile. Click the links below to learn more about how MicroBlasting performs each process.
Clean and Strip
Etch and Cut
1. Very Fine Abrasive Media
MicroBlasting is more sophisticated than just spraying dirt at a target. That’s why abrasive media is the single most important variable in the process. Abrasives must be free of impurities and inconsistencies to produce predictable and repeatable results. Comco maintains strict quality control during every phase of powder processing, ensuring each lot of precision abrasive meets our high expectations. Three factors drive abrasive selection:
Size of Particle
The width, height, radius, and depth of the particle. MicroBlasting is optimized for very fine particle media, 10-50µ (0.0004-.0020″), and effective with media up to 300 microns (0.012″).
Type of Particle
The composition and shape of the particle. Micro-abrasives run the gamut in hardness—from soft compounds like sodium bicarbonate to hard ceramics like silicon carbide. Abrasive particles range from spherical to blocky or pointy. Some are water-soluble, some organic.
The number of particles striking the target. Both blast duration and abrasive stream density control quantity.
2. Small, Focused Nozzles
The second most important factor in the MicroBlasting process is nozzle selection. The nozzle gives focus and velocity to the micro-abrasive stream. When the mixture of air and abrasive pass through the nozzle, it picks up speed or energy. This kinetic energy is released when the particles strike the surface of the target and remove surface material.
MicroBlasting systems accommodate a wide variety of nozzle shapes and sizes—from round to rectangular to angled and extended lengths. The right size and shape nozzle removes precise amounts of material without affecting the surrounding surface.
3. A MicroBlasting System
A micro-abrasive blasting system consists of 4 primary components: a micro-precision sandblaster, a workstation, a dust collector and an air dryer. No component operates safely or efficiently without the others. For instance, a micro-precision sandblaster will clog without a consistent supply of dry air. A workstation cannot provide a clean working environment without dust collection; and so on. At Comco, we manufacture both turnkey solutions and separate components for automated and manual MicroBlasting.
The Manual System
About the Heart of Your MicroBlasting System
A micro-precision sandblaster is also referred to as a “micro-abrasive blaster”, a “pencil blaster”, a “MicroBlaster” or just a “blaster”. Regardless of its title, this machine is the heart of any MicroBlasting system. This is where the compressed dry air and abrasive mix together. The more consistent the mixing technology; the more consistent your results.
The AccuFlo® is the latest edition in our MicroBlaster line, and it is our most powerful and precise blaster to date. It features an improved modulator that produces a consistent mixture of air and abrasive. The AccuFlo is especially effective when a high degree of control is needed over the abrasive stream. It uses nozzles ranging from 0.015″ to 0.060″, holds between 1-2 liters of abrasive, and comes in both Standard and Tall Tank options.
Other blaster options are available, but the AccuFlo is designed for the widest range of manual and automated applications.
Industry Use and Case Studies
MicroBlasting is used across industries to clean turbine blades, divest dental ceramics, prepare cutting tools, etch channels into bearings, deburr stents… the list goes on. Read case studies and see how a few specific industries use Comco technology.
- Clean stents
- Deburr needles
- Texture implants
- Remove graphite core on mechanical heart valves
- Clean turbine blades
- Texture mold cavities
- Deburr fuel splines
- Etch channels into ring bearings
- Rework circuit boards
Aerospace manufacturers rely on MicroBlasting to get precise and repeatable surface finishes. Continue reading →
- Remove oxidation, discoloration, residues, and defects
- Texture to improve bond adhesion
- Rework circuit boards
- Cut holes into fragile substrates
MicroBlasting is a go-to process for cleaning and texturing sensitive electronic components. (ESD Control systems available.) Continue reading →
See More Case Studies on our Blog
Our blog, ‘Micro-Lessons in MicroBlasting’, features more case studies as well as maintenance tips, equipment profiles and process fundamentals. Learn more about:
- etching PZT
- stripping coating from wires and tubes
- texturing to improve bond adhesion
- deburring metal and PEEK components
- removing excess brazing material from cutting tools
Check it out! Continue to page →
Schedule a Sample Part Test
Many factors contribute to blasting success: type and size of abrasive, size and shape of the nozzle, air pressure, blast time and part position. Our Applications Engineers have the tools on-hand to test different variables and the experience to know where to begin. All test procedures and results are documented in a full lab report returned to you alongside the tested sample parts for evaluation.
Review our blog post, “We Take Samples Seriously”, to familiarize yourself with the testing process and contact a Comco Sales Team Member today to schedule a sample test in our Applications Lab.
Comco: Dedicated to MicroBlasting Technology for Over 50 Years
Since the first award-winning Comco MicroBlaster© hit the market in 1968, we have continued to design, innovate and refine each and every component of our MicroBlasting systems. From your idea to your production floor, we are dedicated to bringing you a system that meets your specific challenges. Every unit is built in our Burbank, California facility with our customers’ success in mind and an uncompromising dedication to quality.