in Vol. 11 - September Issue - Year 2010
Latest Vapormatt Machine Features Innovative Concept In Automated Wet Blasting
Leading international specialists in wet blast cleaning and surface treatment, Vapormatt Ltd, have developed a new machine – the "Cougar Radial" – which features an innovative (patent pending) concept in automated wet blast processing.
Suitable for the automated processing of a wide variety of components – individually or attached to tailored fixtures – the new machine has a 1550mm x 1300mm x 1180mm high sealed processing enclosure and incorporates a special four-gun blast gun array and powered turntable arrangement. The blast guns traverse radially across the turntable at a closely governed speed as the parts rotate on the turntable. This combination of movement, coupled with the inclined angles of the four separate wet blast streams, provides a high degree of surface penetration and coverage, and ensures the consistent processing of even the most difficult to access surface areas, such as bores and recesses.
The machine is programmed with a pre-defined sequence of gun array movements linked to turntable rotation speed – different programs are employed, depending on the contours of the part being processed. Adjustment of the turntable speed governs process duration.
Following blasting, the automated sequence is repeated at high speed using dedicated rinse nozzles, with the blast guns turned off, to provide initial component rinsing and remove residual traces of the blast media. Final rinsing is then carried out by hand with a manual rinse gun when unloading the cabinet. A manual process station is also provided to allow immediate processing of individual "urgent" parts or to facilitate the blasting of areas needing only a small amount of additional processing.
Other features of the new Cougar Radial machine include closed-loop operation: media filtration using a batch elutriation technique and an external liquid filtration system allows process debris and dirt removed from the component surfaces to be collected, for easy disposal via established in-house waste streams.
The benefits of the wet blast process
Vapormatt wet blasting (often referred to as "Vapormatting") is a solvent – and dust-free simultaneous cleaning and degreasing process that employs an operator-safe cleaning solution or slurry comprising a special mix of water, detergent and abrasive media – an aluminium oxide or glass bead mixture is normally used. This is projected at the component through a special blast nozzle or nozzles. The operating parameters of the process are highly controllable and effluent from the machine is processed through a filtration system, which separates out solid waste for safe disposal and allows the water to be recycled.
The wet blast process produces a higher quality, smoother surface finishes than alternative processes – dry abrasive blasting, for example – and, since no dust is produced, factory "housekeeping" and hygiene is enhanced. Added to this, no solvents or other potentially hazardous chemicals are used by the process, so it is not subject to strict solvent emission, VOC or dust emission regulations. The use of the wet blast process also eliminates any potential danger from static electricity – often a problem with dry blasting.
Vapormatt manufactures a wide range of wet blasting cleaning, degreasing and peening systems, extending from small manual cabinets suitable for automotive workshops to large automatic, dedicated machines for special surface treatment applications, such as the preparation and cleaning of aluminium extrusion dies and extruded wire products and the de-painting of aircraft wheels.