Reduce vessel downtime & boat surface preparation with ECOQUIP 2

Vapour blasting is the most efficient and eco-friendly stripping method for boat and yacht surfaces

Surface cleaning, maintenance, and repair are necessary activities to extend the life of a yacht.

However, even routine maintenance activities can generate significant amounts of hazardous waste and take a long time. How can you perform these activities while minimising the costs and the impact on our marine environment?

Yacht owners benefit from surface treatment methods that are cost-effective and easy to carry out. Blasting and coating in the marina industry are the most widespread.

Surface blasting hazards in the marina industry

Surface blasting is an efficient solution for the removal of rust, salt, mill scale, weld spatter, and old paint from boats and yachts. It is also used to round sharp edges to accomplish optimal coating performance. Surface preparation is very labour-intensive, accounting for a large part of the total coating costs.

Boat surface preparation can generate hazardous and toxic waste. For example, paint chips and dust from vessel blasting may contain heavy metals such as aluminium, iron, lead, nickel, zinc, cadmium, copper, tin and chromium. These heavy metals accumulate in marine life, leading to the pollution of the human food chain.

Why blasting your vessel bottom is important

Boat owners know the bottom of their vessel must be repainted frequently. But before giving your vessel a new layer, you should remove the old paint. Here is why:

  • Adding layer upon layer of vessel bottom paint leads to significant and needless weight build-up.
  • Old paint layers can start to crack, peel, and pulverize.
  • Paint will not stick to a flaking or uneven vessel surface.

Vessel bottom blasting provides a fresh start, assuring the new paint and anti-fouling remain for longer. After buying a second-hand ship or yacht, you are advised to blast the bottom to detect and resolve underlying problems that have been covered up with paint.

Risks of conventional stripping methods

Conventional paint stripping methods include many manual and risky steps. It begins with scraping off marine growth using flat blades. If this is not carried out with care, there is a risk of damaging the gel coat. In the next phase, hull sanding, it is very difficult to avoid sanding into the gel coat. A smooth and undamaged gel coat is important to protect the underlying fibreglass against blistering, fracturing, and delamination.

Why use wet abrasive blasting in the marina industry?

Wet abrasive blasting has many advantages compared to conventional stripping methods in the marina industry:

·       Faster & less expensive
Wet abrasive blasting strips boat surfaces quickly, without damaging the gel coat. It leaves a clean, chloride-free, and paint-ready surface. Stripping an entire boat with wet abrasive blasting only takes a few hours, with the entire surface preparation process finished in a day or less. Using conventional stripping methods could take up to six days. In most cases, wet or vapour blasting does not require expensive, time-consuming containment. On top of that it does not affect the productivity of nearby workers as they can continue their activities without disturbance.

·       Cleaner
Dry blasting large boat hulls leaves significant amounts of spent abrasive mixed with paint chips. Wet or vapour abrasive blasting reduces dust, allowing operators to work in a wide range of environments with minimal set-up and clean-up costs. When wet abrasive impacts a surface, fine particles are sequestered in water droplets. The additional water weighs the particles down, preventing dust. It results in a cleaner, more consistent finish, ready to coat, with no embedded particles or clinging dust.

·       Safer for the gel coat
There are a number of gentle and eco-friendly abrasives that will not damage the gel coat of a boat or yacht, such as crushed walnut shell, glass beads, and apricot stones. This type of abrasive is less dusty, non-corrosive, and tends to open blisters to expose them for proper repair. They remove the bottom paint quickly and efficiently while keeping the gel coat watertight.

·       Environmentally friendly
Wet abrasive blasting is an environmentally friendly stripping process, which is an important concern for repair yards and marinas. The minimal containment screens installed around the work area contain the soda and old paint ready for proper disposal.

Wet abrasive blasting uses far less abrasive media compared to traditional dry blasting methods.

Graco EcoQuip

Graco's EcoQuip vapour blasting equipment is the most efficient, cost effective, clean and environment friendly stripping method for boat surface preparation. It generates 92 % less dust compared to dry blasting and uses less water than traditional wet blasting. You can adjust the air, water and media ratio to your needs, resulting in a fine mist with a blast that is powerful, but with less dust.

Contact a blasting expert

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