What Is Abrasive Jet Machining and How Does It Work?

Manufacturing companies use a variety of processes to remove unwanted material from workpieces. Some of these processes are relatively simple, such as cutting and drilling. Others, however, are more complex. Abrasive jet machining falls under the latter category. It involves blasting a workpiece with highly abrasive particles to remove unwanted and excess material. To learn more abrasive jet machining and how it works, keep reading.

Overview of Abrasive Jet Machining

Also known as pencil blasting, abrasive jet machining is a machining process used in the manufacturing industry to remove unwanted material from a workpiece. It lives up to its namesake by blasting a workpiece with hard and abrasive particles. The particles are propelled at a high velocity via a gas. As a result, they are able to erode material off the workpiece’s surface.

How Abrasive Jet Machining Works

Abrasive jet machining is performed using a special machine that’s connected to an air compressor. The air compressor uses either inert air or gas. During the process, a nozzle propels fine particulate matter towards the workpiece. The particles used in abrasive jet machining are very fine, often measuring just 0.001 inches in diameter. As the combination of air/gas and abrasive particles land on the workpiece, they remove material from its surface.

Most abrasive jet machines are bench-mounted. They are mounted on a bench where the compressor is able to mix the gas with the abrasive particles. The workpiece is then positioned in front of the machine. To remove material from the workpiece, the machine is activated with the nozzle positioned in the desired area.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Abrasive Jet Machining

Although there are other machining processes that can remove unwanted material from workpieces, abrasive jet machining offers some notable advantages. For starters, it produces little or no heat. Most machining processes — especially those that remove material — produce a relatively high amount of heat. As the workpiece is exposed to this heat, it can deform or succumb to other physical changes. Abrasive jet machining doesn’t produce heat, making it preferable for many manufacturing applications.

Abrasive jet machining also supports a wide variety of workpieces. Whether a workpiece consists of a hard, soft, brittle or strong material, it should support abrasive jet machining. On the other hand, abrasive jet machining is somewhat slow. When compared to other material-removal machining processes, it takes longer. With its slow rate of material removal, abrasive jet machining is typically performed as a final finishing process for workpieces.

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