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by Ryan
NDT, non destructive testing, wet blasting for aerospace

Wet blasting is becoming increasingly popular in the Aerospace industry as a way of preparing metal surfaces for NDT – and for preparing carbon fibre surfaces for bonding, explains Phil Dawes, Aerospace Sales Engineer at Vapormatt. 

Preparing a material surface for non-destructive testing (NDT) can be carried out in a number of ways, of which acid etching has traditionally been one of the most common.  The process does, however, carry a variety of health, safety and environmental risks.  As a result, wet blasting, which is widely used throughout industry, is becoming increasingly popular. 

Wet blasting relies on a ‘slurry’ that is pumped out of a nozzle and sprayed across the material’s surface. The slurry is actually a suspension of solid particles in a mixture of water and air. These particles can range from very mild to highly abrasive. Altering the nature of the particle – and other factors such as the temperature of the water, air pressure and nozzle size will therefore cause a very different yet highly controlled surface effect. 

Preparing a surface for NDT sits at the less abrasive end of the spectrum. The aim of the operation is to create a clean and active surface prior to testing, so that it can be analysed for cracks and other potential defects. The better prepared the surface, the more accurate the test results are likely to be. 

Wet blasting can be used for newly manufactured parts, prior to testing for cracks. But the process is most often found as part of the maintenance process, when it is used to remove burnt-on deposits such as carbon before proceeding to the surface of the material beneath. 

Parts to be tested, which can range from nuts and bolts up to large components like combustion casings, are usually wet blasted with aluminium oxide of 180-400 mesh.  Although this can be carried out using a hand operated wet blast machine, there is an ever-greater demand for highly automated systems to be used. 

The main reason for this is consistency or repeatability: an automated process will ensure that the entire part is blasted evenly – meaning that it will have uniform cleanliness and surface characteristics across its entire area. This will lead to more accurate test results. An ideal part to treat in this way might be a bogie beam, which has so many profiles and angles to blast that it can only be done properly on an automatic machine with four-axes of movement.

The wet blasting process must be tightly controlled, especially with regards to the level of abrasive particles that remain in the slurry.  Computerised monitoring of the abrasive to water ratio is crucial when preparing a surface for NDT and also for other common applications such as peening.  Here, precision control of the blast pattern, shape and pressure ensures that the surface being treated is not damaged in any way.  An expensive part such as a combustion casing could be damaged if it were ‘over-blasted’ – such as by maintaining the gun nozzle in the same position for too long or by using excessive pressure, Automatated controls ensures consistency of finish.

Components such as combustion casings are generally weighed before and after they are tested, so again accurate PLC control is essential to control material removal. Another increasingly popular use of wet blasting, in a similarly ‘mild’ version, is as a way of preparing carbon fibre structures for bonding. These materials have become increasingly prevalent in the industry – whether for helicopter blades or wing boxes and are often combined with components made of other materials such as titanium or aluminium. Bonding these dissimilar materials together correctly is crucial and, as with any bonding, the surfaces must be properly prepared.

Preparing the surface of a carbon fibre part is a delicate process, because the fibres themselves must not be damaged. The aim is to introduce some ‘roughness’ to the surface, but no more. (Alternative methods include sandpapering and ‘peel ply’ – in which adhesive tape is laid on the surface and pulled off.) As when preparing metals for NDT testing, carbon fibre composites must not be treated too harshly. Again, the wet blasting medium is typically aluminium oxide, but of 100-120 mesh, at a maximum blast pressure of 3 bar. Again, repeatability is crucial, meaning that automated wet blasting is preferred to a manual process.

Once the bond has been made, it can be tested for tensile strength or bond strength – using a lap shear test. The strength of the bond will largely be determined by how well the two surfaces were prepared and the cleanliness of those surfaces. In the aerospace sector, the chances are that both will have been done with wet blasting.

If you have an application that could benefit from wet blasting or would like to discuss this with one of our specialists you can contact us today by email or by calling: +44 1823 257 976


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Syntech Surface Finishing specialists which has been in operation since the mid 1970’s and has well over thirty years experience in the Surface Finishing equipment and consumable market.



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亞盛精密机械有限公司 (英文名 Asia Consult Corporation) 于2001年创建。     我们专注于特定细分市场的专业客户需求,如精密数控刀具行业(涂层、湿喷砂、真空清洗设备)、电机行业(线圈加工设备)、高精密批量零

制造业(专用机床等)等,在这些行业与多家世界顶尖机床设备厂家紧密合作, 负责这些设备中国市场的销售及售后服务工作。

我们在中国上海及瑞士设有办事处,同时在上海的保税仓库有常用的设备备件。   我们的技术服务人员随时应答客户的要求,第一时间到达客户现场解决问题。

高质量、高精度的生产设备及高效、专业的服务是我们信奉的宗旨! 欢迎随时与我们联系, 了解我们的产品非凡的性能!

Czech Republic

IPP Praha se již více než 20 let specializuje na dodávky špičkových zařízení a technologií pro povrchové úpravy a čištění kovových dílů a forem.Kromě zařízení pro mokré tryskání Vapormatt  máme pro každý obor  zastoupení prvotřídních západoevropských firem  s rozsáhlými referencemi  v celé Evropě vč. ČR. Dodávaná zařízení zahrnují prakticky všechny velikosti od malých van a kabin, až po rozsáhlé plně automatické linky vč. ultrazvukových a galvanických nebo myčky velkorozměrných dílů (např. železniční soukolí).V případě zájmu nás kontaktujte, k zařízením zajišťujeme též servis a náhradní díly



Après une expérience commerciale dans les fixations automobiles, j'ai découvert l'orthopédie par la forge des tiges de hanches, puis la fonderie, l'usinage, les traitements de surface (DLC, TiN, macro-poreux à base de billes), les emballages, l'injection plastique, le polissage et le nettoyage, la céramique, le Peek et les matériaux résorbables ...Ces expériences de plusieurs années complétées par des formations techniques spécialisées en métallurgie, en plasturgie mais aussi en qualité, en réglementation ou en microbiologie m'ont donné une bonne vision du secteur et de ses problématiques.Aujourd'hui, je représente des technologies européennes de fabrication d'implants et de matériaux implantables à des prix compétitifs face aux leaders monopolistiques du marché.



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I.M.U.-International Macchine Utensili S.p.A. , fondata nel 1963, si compone di 2 Divisioni:

Macchine Utensili

  • Utensili& Trattamenti Superficiali

Grazie alla lunga partnership con Vapormatt ed oltre 30 anni di esperienza nella sabbiatura ad umido, I.M.U.  è a disposizione del mercato italiano per esaminare e risolvere  problemi relativi al trattamento superficiale dei metalli mediante  sabbiatura ad umido, tecnologia ecologica ante-litteram e tuttora moderna. 

New Zealand

Syntech Surface Finishing specialists is a wholly owned New Zealand company which has been in operation since the mid 1970’s and has well over thirty years experience in the Surface Finishing equipment and consumable market.



Vapormatt have been active in Singapore for many years. We have now established 2 agencies to handle the different types of industries.

South Korea

Vapormatt는 전 세계 최고의 습식 블라스팅(Wet blasting) 장비 회사입니다.

항공부품, 알루미늄 압출 다이, 커팅 툴과 전선등의 세척 및 표면 처리 분야에 널리 쓰일수 있습니다.

Vapormatt의 솔루션을 통해 초정밀 가공분야의 핵심인 표면처리 공정의 최적화를 이룰 수 있습니다.

하이클라쎄테크닉은 Vapormatt의 한국 파트너로서 귀사의 표면 처리 공정에 도움을 드릴 수 있습니다.

신뢰할 수 있는 장비와 기술! 하이클라쎄와 함께 합니다.



Reservdelar (utom blästermedel) till Vapormatt maskiner i Sverige levereras av Scandinavian Aerospace & Ind AB.






Unser Tätigkeitsbereich umfasst die Behandlung von Oberflächen, Teilereinigung, sowie die Flüssigkeits-Filtrierung, dies seit über 20 Jahren.

Rufen Sie uns bitte an, wir sind gerne bereit Sie beratend zu unterstützen.

Notre domaine d'activité comprend le traitement de surfaces, le nettoyage de pièces et la filtration de liquides, ce depuis plus de 20 ans.

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In the UK Vapormatt currently have 3 sites covering a range of activities.

  1. Headquarterd in Taunton this office deals with all sales, manufacturing, aftersales and account queries. 
  2. The Gloucester site offers sub-contract wet blasting and process development.
  3. All research and development is carried out in Guernsey