In the automotive wheel industry, wet blasting (or vapor blasting) offers superior cleaning efficiency compared with traditional methods when it comes to repairing and refurbishing wheels.
The combination of water and abrasive media creates a slurry that effectively removes dirt, grime, brake dust, and other stubborn contaminants from the surface of alloy wheels. Unlike dry blasting, the introduction of water into the process aids controllability, with the flowing action of the abrasive slurry offering a cushioning effect that produces a smoother finish and higher levels of coverage and consistency. The high-pressure blast ensures thorough cleaning even in hard-to-reach areas, such as intricate wheel designs and crevices.
The wet blast slurry is projected at the alloy wheel's surface using compressed air to give the process its power. The effect on the wheel can be accurately controlled from gentle abrasion to harsher treatments. Having this flexibility in process parameters enables, amongst other possibilities, for the wheel to be cleaned without damage to the wheel's coating, lightly etched for re-painting, polished to give a burnished finish, or completely stripped of its coating whilst the wheel's surface is simultaneously prepared for re-coating.
Gentle on surfaces - Unlike dry blasting, wet blasting is less corrosive and gentler on alloy wheel surfaces. The lubricating effect of the water reduces friction and minimises the risk of damage to the wheel's surface. This makes wet blasting particularly suitable for delicate wheel coatings or polished surfaces, ensuring the wheel's aesthetic appeal is maintained.
Preservation of wheel integrity - One of the significant advantages of wet blasting is its ability to preserve the structural integrity of alloy wheels. The process does not compromise the wheel's strength or cause micro-fractures that can weaken the metal. By removing contaminants without altering the wheel's original structure, wet blasting helps extend the lifespan of the wheel, reducing the likelihood of cracks or corrosion
Restoration of wheel appearance - Over time, alloy wheels can lose their shine and luster due to continued exposure to road debris and harsh weather conditions. Wet blasting effectively restores the original appearance of alloy wheels by eliminating surface imperfections, oxidized layers, and stains. The process removes worn-out clear lacquer, preparing the wheels for refinishing or the application of a new protective coating, resulting in a fresh and rejuvenated look.
Time and cost-efficient - Compared to labour-intensive hand cleaning or chemical cleaning methods, wet blasting offers a time and cost-efficient alternative. The all-encompassing nature of wet blasting reduces the overall cleaning time required, making it ideal for professional workshops or detailing services. Moreover, the process eliminates the need for harsh chemicals, reducing the associated costs and potential risks.
Eco-friendly cleaning solution - The use of water significantly reduces the amount of dust and airborne particles generated during the cleaning process, making it safer for both the operator and the surrounding environment. Additionally, one of the key features of our Puma manual machine includes a closed loop system that captures and filters the water and media, allowing for the recycling of water and reduction of waste.
Two main applications where wet blasting excels in processing alloy wheels are for small repairs when spot repairs are often made and for full, back to the metal, strips of wheels. The other is for general cleaning and degreasing, where the coating of the wheel is unaffected.
Any damaged areas on the wheels can be blasted to achieve a feathered edge ready for re-painting/re-lacquering. Although it is not a necessary step, soaking the wheels in an acid dip prior to blasting can further quicken the process. This process is also operator friendly as it requires no hand scrubbing, solvents, chemicals, or dust - just water, air, and plastic blast media to remove paints, oils, and greases without damaging the underlying substrate. This highly controllable process can be adapted easily, making it ideal for unskilled manual operations.
Wet blasting combines cleaning and rinsing processes into one, making it a highly efficient cleaning method. The water in the wet blasting process rinses away loosened dirt and debris, leaving wheels clean and ready for further treatment or coating; this eliminates the need for separate prolonged rinsing steps, saving time and effort. Additionally, the cool temperature of the water helps protect delicate surfaces.
Wet blasting can be easily adopted into any workshop's SMART repair process. The use of a specialised wet blasting machine can ensure precise and effective cleaning or repairs, which, in turn, allow technicians to achieve professional and high-quality results. It is important to note that wet blasting should be performed by professionals who have experience in handling the equipment and selecting the appropriate abrasive media to avoid any potential damage to alloy wheels.
Localised damage, big or small, can be addressed without affecting the overall wheel structure because wet blasting will not affect the strength, durability, and performance characteristics of the wheel. This is especially important for wheels that have undergone specialised treatments or have unique designs.
There are many clear advantages wet blasting delivers to the automotive wheel industry, compared with other finishing technologies. Wet blasting has revolutionised the way alloy car wheels are cleaned and restored. With its superior cleaning efficiency, gentle treatment, wheel integrity preservation, appearance restoration, eco-friendliness, and time/cost efficiency, wet blasting has become the preferred finishing process for many automotive professionals. By embracing this innovative method of surface finishing, professionals can be assured the alloy wheels they process will be properly prepared, saving time and effort as well as enhancing the process of SMART repairs and refurbishment. Our Puma manual wet blasting machine ensures the desired wheel finish is achieved every time.