Sandblasting or bead blasting is a generic term for the process of smoothing, shaping and cleaning a hard surface by forcing solid particles across that surface at high speeds; the effect is similar to that of using sandpaper, but provides a more even finish with no problems at corners or crannies. Sandblasting can occur naturally, usually as a result of particles blown by wind causing aeolian erosion, or artificially, using compressed air. An artificial sandblasting process was patented by Benjamin Chew Tilghman on October 18, 1870.
A sandblaster typically consists of a chamber in which sand and air are mixed. The mixture travels through a hand-held nozzle to direct the particles toward the surface or workpiece. Nozzles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Boron carbide is a popular material for nozzles because it resists abrasive wear well.