Economical and efficient jig cleaning with vapour abrasive blasting

Vapour abrasive blasting is one of the most efficient methods to strip powder coatings from jigs and racks.

Every electrostatic powder coating installation is faced with undesirable powder build-up on racks and jigs.

To guarantee an efficient powder coating process, these parts must be cleaned regularly. When it comes to stripping racks and fixtures, there are a number of solutions available.

Racks and jigs hold a workpiece as it passes through a powder coating installation. This means they get coated in powder each time an item is finished. This powder build-up on fixtures quickly becomes a problem in terms of decreasing part-to-rack conductivity and system efficiency. That is why frequent cleaning of racks and jigs is essential for the productivity of your powder coating system.

To completely remove the powder coating from jigs and racks, there are a number of stripping methods that can be used:
·       Chemical stripping
·       Burning-off stripping
·       Dry abrasive blasting
·       Wet or vapour abrasive blasting

Chemical stripping

In case of chemical stripping, the jigs are treated with hot or cold chemicals in a batch-type process. The strippers cause the coating to dissolve or swell, after which they fall off in the chemical bath or can be easily rinsed off using water.

Chemical stripping advantages

  • No negative effects on the base metal of the jigs
  • No jig distortion because no mechanical force or high temperature is needed

Chemical stripping disadvantages

  • Chemical strippers can be very toxic and dangerous to work with
  • Additional waste source to your plant process

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Burning off stripping

Burn-off stripping uses high temperatures of up to 650°C to remove powder coatings from jigs. These extreme temperatures ignite the coatings rapidly, burning them away from the part.

Burning off stripping advantages

  • The only waste source is the dust from the burnt paint

Burning off stripping disadvantages

  • The high temperatures can lead to distortion of the jigs
  • Remaining paint dust on the jigs needs to be rinsed off to avoid pollution and inferior coating adhesion to workpieces
  • A costly burning oven is required
Dry abrasive blasting

Dry blasting methods shoot blast media at the surface of the jigs under high pressure. The abrasion from the heavy impact removes the coating effectively.

Dry abrasive blasting advantages

  • Requires simple equipment, making it cost-efficient

Dry abrasive blasting disadvantages

  • Large dust production
  • Aggressive blast media can damage the base metal of jigs. (Plastic blasting media, is a good alternative for traditional blasting media as it is much milder on a metal surface.)
  • The surface of the jigs must be cleaned with solvents
  • Slower than other cleaning methods

Wet abrasive blasting

Wet abrasive blasting or vapour abrasive blasting is similar to dry blasting, except that the blast media is moistened prior to impacting the surface.

Wet abrasive blasting advantages

  • Requires simple equipment, making it cost-efficient
  • Reduces dust production by up to 92% compared to dry blasting
  • Clean, consistent finish
  • No jig distortion or damage
  • Safe to work with
  • Faster set-up and clean-up compared to dry blasting

Wet abrasive blasting disadvantages

  • Irregularly shaped parts take a long time to blast

Conclusion

Many different stripping methods can be used to remove powder coatings. Each finishing operation must consider what will be the most cost-effective and efficient process for their specific application. For the cleaning of jigs, wet or vapour abrasive blasting is one of the most efficient stripping method. Because wet blasting only requires simple portable equipment and since it is safe to work with, you can easily perform it yourself.

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