Dry Ice Blasting

Similar in operation to injector-type abrasive blasting systems, dry ice blasting systems fire CO2 pellets at temperatures of -78.5°C (-109.3°F) onto a part’s surface. The pellets initiate a thermal and mechanical cleaning process by freezing the surface contaminants while the substrate remains at an ambient temperature. As the CO2 pellets sublimate, they increase in volume, thereby dislodging the contaminants. This method is effective for cured adhesives, paint and other contaminants without mechanical abrasion. There is no gritty residue, no additional chemicals and less machine maintenance than traditional blasting cabinets.

4.3.3 Surface Preparation: Mechanical Abrasion and Roughening

Increased bond strength is a beneficial side effect of cleaning by mechanical abrasion. Substrate surfaces are frequently roughened to take advantage of this, regardless of any cleaning requirements.

Figure 88 Corroded steel, prepared by grit blasting

Roughening a surface increases bond strength in two ways. The roughened surface presents a larger bond area and adhesive, which flows into microscopic cracks and porosity of the surface, cures solid and mechanically locks into the surface.

The beneficial effect of roughening substrates is measurable, as shown in Table 14.

Table 14 Butt joint tensile strengths with abraded aluminium substrates and an epoxy adhesive. From C.W. Jennings 1972
Adherend Surface Treatment Tensile Strength N/mm2 (psi) Strength Difference from Polished Surface Finish
Polished, 1 µ diamond dust 28.8 ± 7.0 (4,180 ± 1,020) n/a
Abraded Through 600 paper 30.9 ± 7.7 (4,480 ± 1,120) + 7.2%
Abraded Through 280 paper 39.0 ± 6.8 (5,660 ± 0,990) + 35.4%
Abraded Through 180 paper 36.7 ± 7.5 (5,320 ± 1,090) + 27.3%
Sandblasted (40-50 grit) 48.5 ± 7.0 (7,030 ± 1,020) + 68.2%

Profilometer and scanning electron microscope (SEM) analyses show differences in surface profiles after mechanical abrasion.

Figure 89 Profilometer traces for aluminium surfaces
Figure 90 SEM images show the difference in surface roughness between a cold rolled steel plate before (left) and after surface grit blasting (right)

Some caveats exist for the mechanical abrasion of substrates: extreme roughness and large pores require more adhesive to fill and may take longer to cure. Adhesives that perform best in thin layers may be less effective on highly textured surfaces – check with the adhesive’s manufacturer for recommended surface finishes. The cohesive strength of the adhesive layer (its internal strength) will not be increased by roughening the substrate, so assemblies suffering cohesive failure will not benefit from surface preparation.

For applications that benefit from roughening the substrate, a preferred range of surface roughness can be found experimentally. The following graph demonstrates the shear strength of an adhesive with increasing surface roughness on both steel and aluminium substrates.

Figure 91 Adhesive shear strength related to surface roughness of steel and aluminium (adapted from A. Ghumatkar 2016)

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