Sandblasting, Frosting, Etching; what is the difference? In the business of specialty glass the process of obscuring a glass uses different processes and has many different names.
First of all, there is no sand in the process of Sandblasting, unless of course you are taking paint off your building. When it comes to glass we use aluminum oxide as the medium for abrading the glass. Aluminum Oxide comes in various grits from very coarse to very fine, and depending on how aggressive you want to be with the surface of glass will depend on what grit has to be used. When blasting glass with an aggregate it is imperative to first understand that every time a particle of aluminum oxide hits the surface of the glass, it removes particles of the glass itself. The more times you run over the area being blasted the more material comes out. In this process the operator has very little control over the depth of the material being removed and ultimately creates a very porous surface that oil and dirt can collect in.
The process of frosting, or our brand name of MICROFROSTING®, is the process of using a specific grit of aluminum oxide with a completely computer controlled process of blasting where all variables of the blasting itself are controlled and maintained, thus allowing us to create a smooth, even, and minimal abrasion to the surface of the glass. This creates a softer look and makes the glass easy to clean when dirt or fingerprints collect on the surface. The even quality of the finish makes this the most desirable finish for custom and gradient applications. This process is also the most environmentally friendly process because the entire blasting medium is recycled. Pulp Studio has utilized multiple processing lines of MICROFROSTING® for more than a decade. It is humorous to us that some of our competitors have tried to sell this process as some type of new ECO glass, implying that this is a new green form of processing. We just did it because the finish is better and it is good business to be environmentally responsible.
Acid etching is exactly what it sounds like. The float glass goes through the process of having a coating put onto the surface of the glass, usually utilizing a screen and a compound consisting caustic ingredients designed to abrade the surface in a very subtle way. The material is applied to the glass and then flushed off with water and neutralizers to leave a very clean and even surface. If done correctly the resulting glass is the easiest to clean of them all.
Next time you want to get blasted, first think about what you really need for the application. Personally, I prefer a good Scotch.