MAY 2023

Shot Blasting and Sandblasting: Know the Difference

Most people confuse sandblasting with shot blasting; they are different terms with separate processes used in the general blasting business. The difference between shot blasting and sandblasting is called “straightforward”.

Often the experts in the industry use abrasive materials on products ready for finishing. There are different surfaces, and they require different preparation; these available varieties give room for multiple techniques for surface preparation. Sandblasting and Shot blasting are primary abrasive techniques used interchangeably by people who do not know the difference.

Sandblasting is a process that involves propelling abrasives with compressed air. The preparation and cleaning process uses compressed air as the power source and directs the high-pressure stream of abrasive to the prepared surface.

The prepared surface can be an auto part cleaned of dirt, grease, and oil or rusty chains in a reconditioned shipyard. Sometimes the surface can be old filing cabinets prepared for powder coating.

Nickel coating results from nickel application on a surface; it is done through electrolytic deposition, also called electroplating. Nickel plating includes adding nickel material to a metal object. This object can be used as a form of decoration or resistance to corrosion.

Shot blasting is also a process of propelling abrasive media material with centrifugal or mechanical force. Compared to sandblasting, this shot blasting has a different system for pressurizing.

Shot blasting is a more aggressive technique, preferably used for more extensive and complex surface preparation of objects.
The shot blasting technique uses a similar device to a spinning wheel to centrifugally accelerate shot-like material and blast it against a surface.

Hence this process requires strict containment because the force of a blasted shot can cause collateral damage if the process isn’t confined. Below is a list of differences to help you choose surface preparation.

Difference Between Sandblasting and Shot Blasting

Difference Between Sandblasting and Shot Blasting


Sandblasting and shot blasting use different techniques to pass the media to the surface after preparation. Shot blasting involves loading the medium into the centrifugal wheel and shooting the medium at a high velocity onto the prepared surface.

Furthermore, the Shot blasting technique is done in a confined space in a specialized piece of machinery.

However, sandblasting requires water, fire, or compressed air. The medium is shot at high speed, although the speed is less compared to the Shot blasting. The different techniques are made suitable for the different prepared surfaces.


The medium through which the blasting takes place is a significant difference between the two techniques. The shot blasting uses an abrasive Shot made of metal such as aluminum oxide or Carbon grit almost exclusively.

Sandblasting can also use metallic shots, just like shot blasting. But most times, the sandblasting requires a milder abrasive such as organic media or glass.

The name sandblasting was derived from the popular silica sand, a popular abrasive choice.

However, in recent times most industries rarely use sand because of its harmful effect and potential to cause respiratory health conditions.

Types of equipment used

Sandblasting makes use of high-pressure compressed air to propel blasting media on the prepared surface. This technique is reliable, and it can be used for a variety of surfaces. Hence, the type of treatment to be used includes a wide range of abrasive blasting media.

The sandblasting types of equipment usually remove contaminants like stripping rust, grease, and old paint. This removal of the old surface prepares the object for a new coating.

Meanwhile, in shot blasting, the wheel blast equipment is used to propel the abrasive media, which is used for finishing. The process involved in shot blasting can be said to be throwing instead of blowing.

Some common types of equipment used for shot blasting are Tumble blast equipment, swing table blast wheel, spinner hangers, hanger blast equipment, and lots more.

Sandblasting or Shot Blasting, which Is Better?

Sandblasting or Shot Blasting, which Is Better

This is a common question asked, but fortunately, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Shot or sandblasting depends mainly on the surface and the expected finishing. However, sandblasting is known for its smoother and less invasive abrasion process.

The expected result is based on the compressed air pressure and the selected abrasive media material.

Sandblasting is less forceful than shot blasting, requiring lighter pressure and soft materials. With this, you can treat sensitive surfaces with little risk of accidental damage. The best solution for cleaning sensitive electronic parts or connectors that have corroded is using the sandblasting method.

Varieties of media options are available with sandblasting. These options include aluminum oxide, which goes through severe contamination and leaves the surface clean and intact.

Shot blasting involves more severe and intense abrasive penetration on dense materials. Thick and heavy surfaces will quickly be prepared with shot blasting.

Surfaces like metal hulls and truck hubs can be prepared quickly and with ease through Shot blasting.

In contrast, sandblasting might need to be more gentle and time-consuming because of its methods for treating gears and shafts.

It is essential to understand that shot blasting is best used to coarse abrasion media like steel shot and grit. It is a heavy-duty media material that penetrates the surface and weakens or destroys rust or pollution on thick surfaces.


Shot blasting is a peening process used for more rigid and dense surfaces than sandblasting can erase.

Sandblasting and shot blasting both use simple and advanced systems. Regardless, these can only work with the use of abrasive media. The material is of utmost importance, and it is available in varieties.

Your choice determines the method and techniques to use. The material’s shape, size, hardness, and density are crucial aspects to consider. This is because the materials’ components determine the abrasion’s quality and effect. Abrasive materials can be mineral, organic, ceramic, plastic, or metal-based. The abrasive materials perform various vital functions and results. The shape of the media determines the finished result on the surface. Also, the steel shot hard particles penetrate deeper into surfaces than plastic particles.

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