Sandblasting, or abrasive blasting as it is often called is one of the more common uses of an air compressor.
Sanding blasting is the process of utilizing compressed air to hurtle fine abrasive materials such as sand on to the workpiece to remove rust, paint, scales formed by heat treatment, oil and grease stains, etc. The power of the pressurized air allows you to quickly clean, smooth, and shape a wide variety of surfaces.
However, just because it is a common air compressor job, doesn’t mean that every air compressor is equally well-suited to doing said job. In this article, I’m going to look at air compressors specifically from the perspective of someone who is primarily going to be doing sandblasting.
Sizing Compressor for Sandblasting
The size of an air compressor for sandblasting depends on three factors: the nozzle size of the sandblaster, CFM (air volume), and PSI (Air pressure). For a small sandblasting work that uses #2 nozzle (1/8”), you need an air compressor that can deliver 20 CFM @100 PSI. Bigger jobs with #4 nozzle (1/4”) require 80 CFM @ 100 PSI and heavy-duty jobs the utilize #6 nozzle or more need 175 CFM and above at 90 PSI.
Please note that similar to spray painting, sandblasting requires a continuous supply of air, and hence the tank capacity is also important.
Another factor that many people often overlook is that, with the way sandblasting works, it is very common that the orifice of the nozzle gets worn out and becomes larger. A larger diameter nozzle would require a higher volume of air (CFM) to successfully perform its task.
Top 5 Air Compressors for Sandblasting
Here are the best air compressor for sandblasting that I found best for small and medium-size industries including automotive work.
1. Dewalt 120-Gallon Compressor
The Dewalt that can deliver an output volume of 35 CFM at 100 PSI and a maximum air pressure of 175 PSI is good for most small and medium-duty sandblasting jobs.
Sandblasting Compressor Buying Guide
In this section of the article, I’m going to talk about some of the features that you should look for when buying an air compressor specifically for sandblasting. Like I’ve said before, air compressors have a lot of features and not all of them are of equal use when it comes to sandblasting.
If you have ever used an air compressor before, or if you are familiar with how they work, then you no doubt know what CFM refers to and why it is important.
Cubic feet per minute is one of the most difficult important things to keep in mind when evaluating any air compressor. However, it takes on special importance when trying to find an air compressor for sandblasting.
Why is this the case exactly? Well, sandblasting works best when you are using an air compressor with a fairly high CFM output. Air compressors can vary wildly when it comes to this metric.
Some air compressors hover around the 3-5 CFM range. While those are good for some jobs such as nailing, for sandblasting you want an air compressor that has a minimum of around 10 CFM. Ideally, you would find one that goes up to 20 CFM.
Because sandblasting is such a high-intensity job, having an air compressor with a high CFM is crucial.
The CFM requirement depends on the diameter of the nozzle orifice. The larger the nozzle hole diameter, the more air volume is needed.
The following chart should give you an idea when selecting the compressor for your sandblaster.
Gas or Electric
Like a lot of power tools, those in the market for an air compressor have to make a choice between whether they go with a gas-powered model or an electric one.
Electric models have their advantages, including cost and convenience (no fumes, no need to buy gas, and lower maintenance costs involved).
However, gas air compressors are generally the better option for portable sandblasting. Gas air compressors are pricier, but they also tend to bring a lot more power to the table. This extra power takes the form of higher CFM, horsepower, and PSI.
Sandblasting isn’t generally a quick job. It is similar to painting in the sense that you are probably going to be at it for a while. Because of this, you need an air compressor that has the tank capacity to keep going throughout the entire job.
I personally place a high emphasis on the capacity of an air compressor because I hate having to stop in the middle of sandblasting because the tank can’t keep up with the job. The same goes for painting as well.
While I doubt that many of you need to be told this, I want to reiterate that when you are using an air compressor for something like sandblasting, that you want to do it in as wide open of an area as possible. Likewise, find a way to quickly get rid of dust shavings before they build-up and cause actual problems.
By using the tips that I have given you in this article, you should be able to easily pick out a really good air compressor that will make sandblasting extremely easy.
- Sizing Compressor for Sandblasting
- Top 5 Air Compressors for Sandblasting
- Sandblasting Compressor Buying Guide