How it Works
Dry ice blasting uses compressed air to accelerate solid carbon dioxide (CO2) dry ice pellets to literally strip industrial equipment surfaces of a multitude of residues, including ink, glue, paint, food, rubber, mold release agents, dirt, grease, oil, and numerous other contaminants.
Dry ice blasting is similar in principle to sand blasting. Instead of sand, dry ice blasting uses high-density dry ice pellets, which are propelled onto a surface using compressed air.
Unlike sand blasting, dry ice blasting is non-abrasive. When dry ice pellets hit a surface, such as a metal part contaminated with oil and grime, the dry ice pellets immediately sublimate [change in form from solid to gas].
The rapid expansion of the solid dry ice into gas causes a tiny "explosion" which loosens the contaminant [in this case, the oil and grime]. The extremely cold temperature [-109 degrees Fahrenheit] of the dry ice causes the bond of the contaminant to the metal part, in this example, to weaken. This loosens the contaminant, freezes it in the process, and causes it to release from the metal part.
Dry ice blast cleaning leaves no residue like sand blasting, and it leaves no toxic waste as solvents can. It lets you skip clean-up problems associated with other cleaning methods.
History of Dry Ice Blasting
Dry ice blast cleaning originated in the aerospace industry at Lockheed. In August 1977, Calvin Fong received a patent on "Sandblasting with pellets of material capable of sublimation" and the technique became commercially available in 1987.
Originally, equipment for dry ice blasting required 200 psi capability of blasting equipment. With advances in the technology, many dry ice blasting applications only require 80 psi. which makes dry ice blasting equipment affordable and practical for more cleaning applications.
Three Ways Dry Ice Blasting Cleans
1. Kinetic Energy
Kinetic Energy is transferred by the accelerated dry ice pellet as it hits the surface during the dry ice blasting process. The dry ice pellet sublimates (changes from solid to gas) upon impact and is softer compared to other cleaning media such as sand, grit, or beads. Dry ice blasting is nonabrasive and will not damage most substrate materials or affect tool tolerances.
2. Thermal-Shock Effect
Thermal-Shock Effect occurs when cold dry ice pellets (109 degrees Fahrenheit below zero) strike a much warmer, contaminated surface during dry ice blasting. The extremely cold temperature of the dry ice causes the bond to weaken between the surface being cleaned and dirt, grime, and other residues. This effect aids in the release of the contaminant when it is struck by the dry ice pellets during dry ice blasting.
3. Thermal-Kinetic Effect
Thermal-Kinetic Effect combines the impact of sublimation and the rapid heat transfer discussed above. During dry ice blasting, when the dry ice pellet hits the contaminated surface, the vapor expands so much (up to 800 times the volume of the pellet) and so fast that a micro-explosion occurs, taking off dirt and grime in the dry ice blasting process.
Uses for Dry Ice Blasting
Rubber and plastic surfaces
HDPE and PET containers
Core boxes, including screens
Permanent aluminum molds
Automotive Parts Manufacturing and Assembly
Robotic welding equipment
Painting systems cleaning
Tire/rim assembly equipment
Rubber from test and alignment equipment
Windshield and body sealants
|Baking and Food Processing
Wafer oven plates
Gears, decks, guides
Aviation (FAA Approved)
General Maintenance and Compliance Cleaning
Surface preparation for inspection and testing
Plant and equipment (complete removal of oil, grease, adhesives, etc.)
Mold remediation [black mold]