in Vol. 13 - November Issue - Year 2012
Pioneering Garnet Recycling And Fine Abrasives
Torsten Ketelsen, Chief Executive Officer of GMA Garnet Group
Italy recycling facility
USA recycling facility
Interview with Mr. Torsten Ketelsen, Chief Executive Officer, GMA Garnet Group. The Group is an integrated mining, processing, shipping, global marketing and distribution organisation providing high quality industrial garnet for the surface preparation and waterjet cutting industries with operations established within Western Australia and strategically located warehouses worldwide. The Group has pioneered the operation of large-scale garnet recycling facilities in Italy, Saudi Arabia, UAE and USA offering an environmentally friendly solution to the disposal of used garnet.
(?) MFN: What has prompted the GMA Garnet Group to become involved with recycling?
(!) T. K.: As industrial quality garnet is a limited natural resource, GMA Garnet believes that it is vital to offer recycling options in order to reduce pressure on local landfill and maximise the use of every available grain of garnet. Many customers are forced to dispose of their abrasive after a single pass, or lack the ability to recycle or reuse. GMA Garnet Group’s recycling centres provide companies with a cost-effective and environmentally responsible option for discarding their used garnet. The Group’s Italian recycling plant alone saves approximately 12,000 tonnes of garnet from being sent to landfill every year. Additionally, recycling has extended the range of garnet sizing through the introduction of high-quality, expertly processed GMA Garnet Fine and Superfine Abrasives, which are now available to new and existing customers, for use in established, developing and pioneering high-precision applications.
(?) MFN: What are typical and developing applications for the finer grades of garnet?
(!) T. K.: Apart from conventional waterjet cutting and sandblasting, finer grades of garnet have a multitude of applications such as delicate polishing, delicate blast cleaning of historical facades, monuments, wooden structures, turbines, castings, plastics, graffiti removal, restoration, automobiles, aerospace, boat restoration and new fabrication. For example, GMA Garnet Superfine Abrasives have been successfully applied in the removal of oxide layers on delicate steam turbines in the Duernrohr power station in Lower Austria. Another interesting example of delicate blast cleaning is the current application of GMA Garnet Fine Abrasives to refurbish and restore 140 statues in the famous Saint Peter’s Square (Vatican City, Italy). Furthermore, finer grades are used by our customers for blast etching, glass frosting, as well as refurbishing galvanised coatings, stainless steel, aluminium, alloys, fibreglass and denim treatment. The GMA Garnet Group is always searching for new markets and trial partners for new, uncharted applications and technologies; in particular, for the GMA Garnet Fine and Superfine Abrasives grades of garnet. In our opinion, these specialty grades have a bright future, due to the increasing need for high precision, micronized components, and finishes.
(?) MFN: Why choose GMA Garnet fine abrasives over other fine abrasives?
(!) T. K.: Due to the Group’s extensive knowledge and research as well as customer feedback in processing and grading garnet, GMA has managed to ensure exceptionally high mineral purity, total grain angularity and consistent sizing which, enables high performance precision cleaning, cutting, etching and polishing. There are further price and efficiency advantages over many more expensive fine abrasives such as sodium bicarbonate, aluminium oxide and silicon carbide.
(On another note, our sales team often encounters customers and contractors who believe that a coarser grade of garnet will do the job better and faster than a finer abrasive. This is a common misconception, leading to reduced efficiency and higher labour and material costs. In fact, in many cases, finer abrasives will provide higher cleanliness as they penetrate the smaller pits which coarse grains fail to clean, whilst improving cleaning efficiency due to a higher number of grains impacting the surface. Our sales team will be happy to discuss and recommend suitable grades for each particular project or job. )
(?) MFN: What sets Australian GMA Garnet abrasive apart from other available garnets and conventional abrasives?
(!) T. K.: Through a unique geological history of erosion and deposition, GMA Garnet Group’s deposits contain the highest quality garnet available. Unlike other garnets, GMA Garnet has had more time in extreme natural elements; this has "toughened" the surviving grains which are now available as GMA Garnet. Many slags and alternative abrasives are hazardous or inconsistent; GMA Garnet is a chemically inert, non-toxic, natural abrasive that is produced in state-of-the-art wet and dry processing facilities. Furthermore, strict sampling and laboratory tests are regularly performed for garnet purity, size analysis, chlorides and conductivity to guarantee exceptional and consistent high standards of this superior product. All in all, the refining process along with total quality control, has made the Group the leading supplier of blast cleaning and waterjet cutting abrasives that is in growing demand across industrialised countries globally.
(?) MFN: Is it possible for individual businesses to adopt their own recycling system?
(!) T. K.: Yes, as many of GMA Garnet’s customers are located outside reasonable proximity to a GMA recycling plant. For larger sandblasting or surface preparation companies and projects, GMA Garnet has tailor-made systems available that not only enable reuse of garnet but also dramatically reduce consumption rates owing to GMA Garnet being recyclable up to 8 times depending on the work and grade. Normal use of GMA Garnet will not lead to excessive material breakdown of the tough, dense GMA garnet grains. Independent tests confirm that the average level of breakdown will result in approximately 10-15% of the abrasive being removed by a standard recycling unit. This allows for new GMA Garnet to be added at each cycle in order to maintain performance levels of the abrasive. Conclusively, this leads to a significant reduction in actual abrasive consumption and provides a dramatic competitive advantage to our customers.
(?) MFN: What are the most important characteristics of abrasives for surface preparation and finishing?
(!) T. K.: Purity, cleanliness, sizing, durability and consistency; all of which the GMA Garnet Group guarantees. Conventional abrasives can create excessive dust and impurities within the substrate; meanwhile, GMA Garnet provides faster workmanship, lower consumption, higher cleanliness and a safer, more neighbourly work environment.
(?) MFN: How can customers get in touch with GMA Garnet Group?
(!) T. K.: The GMA Garnet Group sales team is supported worldwide by a network of dedicated and professional distributors. To locate the nearest sales office or distributor simply log on to www.garnetsales.com and use the sales office locator for prompt service.
MFN would like to thank Torsten Ketelsen for the interview!