VOL. 7 May ISSUE YEAR 2006


in Vol. 7 - May Issue - Year 2006
It's Not Just About Glass Beads
Rick Symanski, Sales Manager of Flex-O-Lite Inc.

Rick Symanski, Sales Manager of Flex-O-Lite Inc.

All Blast-O-Lite glass beads are built to industrial specifications

All Blast-O-Lite glass beads are built to industrial specifications

Flex-O-Lite has 3 facilities to get you product - fast

Flex-O-Lite has 3 facilities to get you product - fast

Glass beads can clean away rust and corrosion, without causing dimensional change to your equipment

Glass beads can clean away rust and corrosion, without causing dimensional change to your equipment

An interview with Rick Symanski, Sales Manager of Flex-O-Lite Inc.

(?) MFN:  Tell us a little history of Blast-O-Lite glass beads.

(!) R. S.: Blast-O-Lite is the Industrial Bead side of Flex-O-Lite, Inc, located in St. Louis, MO, USA.  Flex-O-Lite was founded in 1942 in St. Louis, Missouri by Gerold Rizer and Charles Bland.  Working out of a warehouse, they experimented with different grinding techniques, burner configurations and cullet types. Their break-through came by increasing the height of the burner, which resulted in greatly improved yields of spherical beads.  Thus, Flex-O-Lite was born. 

In 1994 Jackson Products, Inc. acquired Flex-O-Lite to join its team of highway and personal safety companies.  This goal was to build the ‘Ultimate Safety Solution’ for all companies. A One-Stop-Shop, if you will, with glass beads to keep your paint trucks cleaned and superior reflection on your highway vests.

(?) MFN:  Why are glass beads better/safer than other blasting media?

(!) R. S.: Blast-O-Lite® glass beads are formulated of chemically inert soda-lime glass. Our glass beads meet all of the OSHA standards for cleaning operations, and release no free silica or toxins that may harm workers or the environment. The contaminant free, environmentally friendly choice is impact blasting with Blast-O-Lite® glass beads.

Another safety advantage of glass beads is the breakdown. This is generally caused by fracture of the bead and will not contaminate your workpiece.  This collectively protects the cleanliness and sterility of the pieces and work place. Plus, the disposability of glass beads is environmentally friendly as compared to chemical cleaning methods. Normally this simplified disposal process can result in reduced cost and required paperwork. The less time you spend trying to dispose of hazardous materials, the more time you can spend on building your business.   

(?) MFN:  Please explain some major results that can be expected from utilizing Blast-O-Lite glass bead applications?

(!) R. S.: Glass beads are used for Finishing, Deburring, Cleaning and Peening applications.
They accelerate rapidly and efficiently into an air stream, and reach the target at an extremely high velocity to safely blast and smooth burrs and rough edges.  This allows you to have a low-cost, one-step finishing alternative. 
During the Finishing application the impact of Blast-O-Lite® glass beads smoothly blends away surface defects, and improves the corrosion resistance of the finished surface. Blast-O-Lite® glass bead finishing is accomplished without dimensional change to the metal surface, and does not impart contamination or residue.  This is unlike other finishing methods. The impact blasting process is fast for energy efficiency, and the bright, clean, precision finish is reproducible, even on materials with close tolerances.
For moving parts, finishing with Blast-O-Lite® glass beads improves lubrication and reduces friction. Glass bead finished surfaces create a sealing action that reduces susceptibility of aluminum, magnesium and other metal surfaces to chemicals and corrosion, therefore, extending the life of your parts. The glass bead finishing process also improves adhesion capabilities with paint, plastic and rubber coatings. Some finishing applications include:  food processing equipment and cookware, medical equipment and improving the surface appearance on various products. 

The second application method is removing burrs, feathered edges and nicks from tools, equipment and parts. This method is known as Deburring.  This is a risky operation. Dislodged burrs can infiltrate machinery or work areas and cause damage or injury.  Corners and edges must be deburred with precision to assemble and operate parts properly.  No base metal must be removed from the surface of the part.  Our glass beads allow this precision.

The Cleaning application method is used in a wide variety of industries.  Most metals are required to be metallurgically cleaned before painting or plating.  The manufacturing process often causes parts to become contaminated with residues, which impair part performance. 

Blasting your products with glass beads cleans the item while keeping it sterile and free from contaminants.  Beads are used to clean engine components, jewelry, dies, pipes and carbon deposits, to name a few. Foreign substances are removed from the surface parts without creating a dimensional change to the component.  Because of the dimensional safety, many automotive parts use glass beads to polish and clean grease, grime, rust and corrosion from surfaces.

The last application method to discuss is Peening.  Peening with Blast-O-Lite® glass beads creates a uniform surface layer of compressive stress, which acts to combat stress cracks and corrosion, therefore, increasing the life of metal parts.  The glass beads leave no metallic contamination on the workpiece. This eliminates the step of removing metallic contamination left by steel shot or other peening media.  For delicate thin-walled parts and thin welds, peening with Blast-O-Lite glass beads provides the right balance of stress relief without over-stressing and causing damage.  Blast-O-Lite® glass beads offer uniform size and a high degree of roundness to precisely control the process performance for stress relief.

(?) MFN:  How do I know the best bead size to use per application or purpose?

(!) R. S.: Our beads are available in a wide range of sizes and gradations, able to clean hard-to-reach fillets and interstices easily and quickly. Using uniform size and hardness, in a variety of different Blast-O-Lite® glass beads, a broad range of materials including plastic, glass, metal and rubber can be finished.  Smaller spheres will create a finer, smoother non-glare finish, while larger spheres produce a more textured finish. A bright satin finish is desired in effect for parts ranging from medical equipment to stainless steel propellers.  Special effects are also easily achieved through simple masking before the blasting process, with every type of finish being reproducible, time after time.

We have a conversion chart on our website that lists all of our competitive products, and other abrasive items- and what the equal Blast-O-Lite component is.  This will give you a good, knowledgeable start into a blasting program. 

(?) MFN: Do Blast-O-Lite glass beads conform to appropriate specifications? 

(!) R. S.: Flex-O-Lite’s Blast-O-Lite® glass beads are manufactured to conform to all of your industrial needs.  The most recent is the revised MIL Specification. We conform to MIL-PRF-9954B - 26 September 2005, superseding MIL-G-9954A - 1 NOVEMBER 1966.  Blast-O-Lite also conforms to AMS 2431/6B, among others.

We also employ diligent quality control, research, improvement and innovation for all glass bead applications. We are the choice bead manufacturer for many companies because we provide results and reliability. Why shouldn’t you use a company that has a stellar reputation, and will work with you to help you achieve the process you want or need for your product? We are here to do that for you. 

(?) MFN: Will the beads I need be available?

(!) R. S.: Flex-O-Lite has three full-time facilities running down the US Midwest corridor.  We produce our beads to meet customer specifications and are able to provide your order in a very timely manner.  You can always contact me for a distributor close to you.  Also, our newly updated website will allow you to email me directly for this information.  We also can provide competitive bids to our international partners.

(?) MFN: Glass beads are from recycled products, and can be recycled themselves. Can you explain this?

(!) R. S.: Glass beads are helping to reduce the waste in America’s landfills.  Instead of spent glass sitting in landfills and piling up, it is being melted and reshaped into the environmentally friendly, blasting media of today. We are taking a discarded product- everything from car windows to plate glass- and utilizing it for the better.  This former waste product is helping to improve sealing and lube applications, clean the space shuttle, and change the appearance of your cookware. 

When glass beads are blasted, they fracture. These fractured pieces are collected into the bottom of the blast machine and reused on multiple projects.  Eventually you will start with new beads, however, the recycling for numerous projects is an advantage of this media. 

(?) MFN: What is the future for Blast-O-Lite glass beads?

(!) R. S.: The industry is constantly evolving. Future wants and needs are for more defined, specific results and glass beads can provide that precision result.  Industrial glass bead blasting is a part of the worldwide process, able to be used in any country, for multiple purposes and conditions. 

Each day our engineers and technical team research, learn, inform and enhance all of the ways to introduce this environmentally friendly resource into our lives. We get calls from inventors, investors, and businesses with ideas and concepts. We are always looking for innovative ideas that would benefit the new and growing demands, challenges and opportunities of the industry, and the expanding world market.

(?) MFN: Do you have any closing comments?

(!) R. S.: Our customer service is second to none in the industry. They are knowledgeable and ready to help you with all of your sizing, application, conversions and costing questions. Tell us your needs and what you are trying to achieve, and we will have someone help you determine the correct gradation and mesh sizes. Our beads can soften finishes, or clean metal, there are many varieties and application results available.  Blast-O-Lite Industrial beads will work for all of your blasting, peening, deburring and finishing applications. 

I’d like to thank Metal Finishing News for the opportunity of this interview. I believe glass beads are a fantastic choice for your industrial blasting purposes.  We maintain the highest standards and believe our products offer the greater result. Our motto is “The Ultimate in Glass Bead Technology” and we hope to show you why this rings true.
Thanks again.

We at MFN would like to thank Mr. Rick Symanski for the interview.

For Information:
Flex-O-Lite Inc.
125 Cassens Ct.
Fenton, MO 63026, USA
Tel. +1.330.861 1013
E-Mail: rsymanski@jacksonproducts.com