A little history
Sandblasting began with the formation of the land. The first winds blew sand (dry jet) and the seas and rivers projected water with particles suspended on the rocks (wet jet). A typical example is the erosion of the sphinx battered by the desert sand, as well as the “cannonball” that destroyed its nose in Napoleon’s day, which is also a kind of blasting to some extent.
In industrial terms, the initial milestone in the evolution of the blasting process can deservedly be credited to Tilghman, who in 1870 applied for the first related patent.
Interestingly, the thought came to him as he watched the grid mark on a windowpane after a sandstorm. The first practical application he envisioned was the engraving of letters on granite tombstones using masks. This same Tilghman successively applied for steel-shot patents, turbines, and other refinements, and it can be said that he practically exhausted the blasting process, leaving only the responsibility for perfecting it to future generations.
The great impetus for the development of this new industrial resource is associated with a naval battle during the American Civil War, a few years earlier (1862). The ships of steel construction, Merrimac, Confederate, and Union Monitor, maintained a prolonged battle that demonstrated the enormous superiority of metal hulls over wooden hulls, causing a revolution in shipbuilding. England even quickly changed its fleet, maintaining its hegemony of the seas.
Predictable maintenance problems led to the extensive use of sandblasting, encouraging the development of new features and larger capacity compressors.
Another factor that decisively influenced the progress of blasting was the identification of a sand dust-induced lung disease called SILICOSE. It represented a barrier to the acceptance of the process in the industrial area. Then began to be researched and developed, other natural or artificial materials that did not present the same risk. Its higher cost has required ever more elaborate recovery, recycling and purification processes, opening new broad fields of application, transforming the original primitive and rustic process into the sophisticated industrial tool available today.