Robotic abrasive blasting can help manufacturers transform their production processes—improving safety, efficiency, material usage, and more. While manual abrasive blasting may be effective, it lacks the precision and efficiency that innovative robotic solutions can offer. In addition, manual abrasive blasting can be expensive and often hazardous for employees.
Today’s abrasive blasting robots can make the blasting process easier, less resource-intensive, and higher-quality. As a result, manufacturers can provide a safer work environment as well as a better customer experience. As we’ll discuss below, robotic abrasive blasting comes with several benefits for innovative manufacturing.
1. High Quality Surface Consistency
The number one benefit of robotic abrasive blasting is the high quality, consistent finish it produces. While manual blasting certainly gets the job done, it can’t compete with the consistent accuracy of robotic abrasive blasting.
This is, in part, thanks to one of the key advantages that robots have over humans. Robots can perform the same task repeatedly without fluctuations in performance. In contrast, all humans make mistakes, and it is nearly impossible for anyone to do the same task the same way numerous times. Some level of variation in quality and performance is inevitable with manual abrasive blasting.
However, a robot can ensure that blasting is even and precise across entire surfaces, and from one unit to another. This is important since surface finish consistency can have a big impact on how well paints and coatings adhere to surfaces.
2. Improved Customer Experience
The result of high quality, consistent abrasive blasting is ultimately a better experience for customers and end-users. This is especially true for SP 5 or No. 1 White Metal Blast Cleaning surface requirements. Abrasive blasting at this level of precision and quality results in the smoothest, cleanest finish possible.
Robotic abrasive blasting makes it much more economical and efficient to deliver this level of finish quality. The higher level of consistency offered by robots means customers can be guaranteed a consistently high-quality product as well. Consistent quality is especially important today because supply chains are already strained. Manufacturers need to do all they can to get as many well-made products out to customers as possible. Efficiency is one half of the solution to that challenge, while the other half is consistent quality control.
This doesn’t just improve aesthetic value, either. Abrasive blasting is often used on parts that need to have a certain level of smoothness to function properly. Robotic abrasive blasting can ensure these parts consistently meet those standards, resulting in better end-product performance and, as a result, higher customer satisfaction.
3. Waste and Cost Reduction
Manufacturers will appreciate the efficient resource utilization of robotic abrasive blasting. Compared to manual blasting, a robot can use blasting materials more effectively, allowing less to go to waste. This is due to the consistent accuracy of robotic abrasive blasting as well as the way a robot precisely calculates the exact amount of blasting material it needs to use.
There are many different types of abrasive blasting materials used today, all with their advantages and disadvantages, including some premium options that can be quite expensive. For example, sand blasting is a popular blasting technique for manufacturing things like boats and ships. However, costs for this technique can be high due to the amount of raw blasting material needed. A robotic abrasive blaster can minimize this cost by blasting surfaces in the most efficient way possible.
Even compressed air is used more effectively, since an abrasive blasting robot can maintain a high-precision aim. With manual blasting, air and blasting materials would inevitably be wasted blasting the same areas multiple times. Additionally, as discussed below, robotic abrasive blasting reduces staffing needs. This results in lower employee-related costs for manufacturers.
4. Improved Worker Experience
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the industry will have 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030. Manufacturers need to find innovative solutions to close this gap. Not only do labor shortages impact productivity, but they can also cause stress and safety risks for employees. When manufacturing facilities are understaffed, smaller teams must work harder to compensate, increasing the risk of injuries and burnout.
Robots are one of the top solutions to labor shortages. Robotic abrasive blasting can help manufacturers meet demand despite hiring challenges. By assigning a robot to perform abrasive blasting, employees can be redirected to more engaging tasks that benefit from their creativity and knowledge.
Abrasive blasting itself poses some health risks that robots can shield employees from. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports indicate that abrasive blasting can result in employees breathing in dangerous toxins and particulate matter. This can cause serious respiratory illnesses and even lung cancer. So, using robotic abrasive blasting instead can significantly improve employee safety.
5. Higher Productivity
Productivity is a top priority for many manufacturers. Between supply chain challenges and rising demand due to e-commerce, high productivity is essential for making sure sufficient supply gets out to customers in a timely manner. An efficient abrasive blasting process is crucial to making that happen. Robots are proving across multiple industries that they are the key to creating a more productive workplace that is also safer and more efficient.
Robotic abrasive blasting may be the perfect solution for manufacturers looking for ways to improve productivity. A prime example of this is silica abrasive blasting. Silica sand blasting media has long been popular in the industry, but the hazards that go along with it force manufacturers to only perform silica blasting in closed environments with protective equipment for employees.
In this situation, the employee doing the blasting has to take time to put on and check their protective gear. Using robotic abrasive blasting instead would not only be safer, but also save time. The robots could be monitored remotely without any need for employees in the blasting area. Meanwhile, employees could be redirected to other tasks that do require human input, improving productivity in multiple areas of the manufacturing process.
Innovating Manufacturing with Robotic Abrasive Blasting
Robotic abrasive blasting has the potential to deliver valuable benefits to manufacturers, from improved employee safety to cost and material savings. By adopting robotic abrasive blasting, manufacturers can innovate their production process while also creating a safer and more productive work environment. Customers will enjoy the benefits as well thanks to improved quality control and higher-quality surface finishes.