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Best blast media for glass etching on glass mugs

Pain_In_The_GlassPain_In_The_Glass Member Posts: 2
edited November 2017 in General
hi..a newbie here...a few questions:

1 - what is the best blast media and grit size to use for etching on glass mugs?

2 - I am using a glass media i got from harbor freight to experiment with....i feel the image should be darker. Do i change media and grit size or keep using the glass media and blast the image longer?

3 - what is the best psi to set my air compressor at?

i do have a sandblasting box.

thank you in advanced for your help.


  • Liz_ALiz_A Member Posts: 10,060
    @Pain_In_The_Glass - if you use the Search box at the top right of this page or any other page in the forum, you can search all posts. There have been many discussions about glass etching and sandblasting boxes, etc. over the years.
  • Di-liteDi-lite Member Posts: 3,407
    What media are you using and what pressure have your set your compressor to.  Can you increase your pressure and if so by how much.  The higher the pressure the quicker the blasting process.  The longer you hold your gun at an area the deeper the cut will be.
    Have fun, Di, ID 14610
    UK, Cameo, Serif Draw, Win10.
    Link to My Craft Bazaar | Link to Skool | Force Bazaar - Archimedes
    Feel free to use anything in these links.
  • GabeGabe Moderator Posts: 4,517
    @Pain_In_The_Glass, If you use Facebook, there are several groups there that are focused on glass etching.  Here we only discuss that topic as it relates to using Make-The-Cut! software.  Using MTC we can create many kinds of sandblasting stencils and cut them out of vinyl with our electronic cutters.  A couple of groups to check out on Facebook are Etching with a BLAST Cabinet, and Glass Etching.

    I'll take a stab at your questions, but you can get much more information in the FB groups I've mentioned.

    1.  Blast media.  The most efficient blast media for glass is either aluminum oxide (AO) or silicon carbide (SC).  The difference between the two is that there is much less static electricity created during the etching process, when using SC.  Static can lead to small electrical shocks being delivered to the person holding the blast gun.  No fun!  Lots of people who use AO will buy a grounding cable to attach to their blast gun and ground it so that the static electricity is drained to the ground before it shocks you.  A good $10 investment if you like AO.  Another difference between AO and SC is that SC is sharper, so it cuts faster and more efficiently.  It also breaks down more slowly than AO, so it lasts longer.  Two downsides to SC: It costs more than AO, and it may be a little harder to find, locally, than AO.  Many people buy their blasting media from Zoro (https://www.zoro.com/value-brand-blast-media-aluminum-oxide-120-grit-aob120-50/i/G3006464/)  

    Note: AO or SC are really the only blast mediums that should be used.  Glass beads, coal slag, soda, and other media were developed for different applications and are not safe to use with glass blasting.  The link to Zoro I gave is for a 50 lb bag of AO.  If you search for silicon carbide, you'll see the price difference for 50 lbs of that. You can also buy smaller quantities of AO or SC, in your preferred grit size, from eBay.

    A good media size is 120 grit.  That's a "middle of the road" size.  The higher the number of the grit, the finer the grit.  80 grit is very coarse.  Some people like that because they feel it gives a faster etch.  Then it progresses to 100, 120, 180, 200 and 220.  A lot of people like 220 because they feel it gives better results with fine details.  Grit size actually goes higher than 220, but above that you are trying to sandblast with fine dust.  Speaking of which, if you value your life, you MUST wear a respirator mask (not a paper dust mask) to protect your lungs from the blasting media.  And a good pair of goggles will protect your eyes.  You can get those either from Amazon, or maybe from Harbor Freight.

    2.  See my answer to #1.

    3.  PSI is based on your preference and the requirements of your blasting cabinet.  All blasting cabinets have some information about the requirements, such as the size of air compressor and the CFM (cubic feet per minute) the compressor is designed to use.  If the compressor you buy can't intake the CFM the blasting box recommends, you can still use it, but it will likely stop much more often because the blasting box is using air faster than the compressor can supply it.  So, if the compressor has trouble supplying air to the blasting box, it will stop to refill the tank and when it does that, all you can do is wait for it.  Usually that leads to you buying a bigger compressor as soon as you can afford it, so you don't have to wait for 5 minutes out of every 20 minutes of blasting.

    PSI is a setting that controls the pressure that the compressor outputs to the gun.  The range that is generally used is 60 psi to 100 psi.  Under 60 will really stretch the etching time and over 100 can eat through thin glass before you even realize it. Plus the higher the PSI, the more air the blasting box will need.  Therefore, most folks that I'm aware of, will do their etching at 60-80 psi.

    Now, go to FB and join those two groups I mentioned and check out the "getting started" documents in the files section and ask all your questions.  Good luck with your new craft projects. :)
  • cartnercartner Member Posts: 9
    It depends also on the effect you want. For frosted ones, using very fine metrial is recommended.
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