Have a question about sandcarving? Our FAQ section was built around common questions posed by the sandcarving community.
What materials can I sandblast?
There are many materials that are compatible with sandblasting. Whether you are looking to etch or deep carve, we have created a quick reference chart for Sandblastable Material Compatibility. CLICK HERE to download our handy chart.
How do I replace my nozzle?
What size/type of grit should I use?
For best all-around results, we recommend Silicon Carbide grit in a 180 mesh size. To do fine detail, and for shading purposes, 220 mesh or finer will work well. Other abrasives (such as Aluminum Oxide) can be used, but Silicon Carbide is preferred.
Why is a pressure pot better than a siphon-fed blaster?
Pressure pot blasters work faster (up to 4x faster) than siphon-feed blasters. Further, pressure-pots allow for more control of the blast media and pressure. With a pressure pot, you can blast at pressures as low as 5 psi for shading effects, etc. up to the higher pressures needed for certain substrates.
Why won’t the mask stay on the glass when I blast?
This can have several causes. The most common is lack of adhesion. This can be caused by using glue that is not mixed well, by air bubbles trapped under the mask during application, or even by contaminants on the substrate. Mask that is properly adhered to the glass will reduce the incidence of blow-offs. Another cause is that the air mixture in the sandblaster may be too lean. This increases the power of the air coming out of the nozzle, which can literally blow the mask off of the glass. Increasing the flow of abrasive media slightly may reduce mask blow-offs.
Why do I blast THROUGH the mask?
This can happen when the nozzle is held in one position too long. This will cause the mask to heat up and soften, reducing its capabilities as a resist. A second possible cause is contamination in the grit. Contaminants will act like a "dart", piercing the mask, and causing a pinhole effect. A third possible cause is the use of abrasive media that is too coarse. Photoresists are most effective when used with grit of a 180 mesh size or finer.
How do I remove the mask when I am done etching?
The mask can be removed by peeling, or by soaking the object in warm water. Removal can be expedited by spraying the piece with some Resist Remover prior to soaking. Adding some soda ash to the water can also help when removing RapidMask.
What is the difference between Aluminum Oxide and Silicon Carbide?
How long will my blaster parts last?
What size compressor should I use?
This will vary with the size of nozzle, and type of blaster. For example, a pressure pot with a 3/32” nozzle may only need 7 CFM of air at 40 psi. A siphon-fed blaster may require double that amount. It is always better to have MORE air flow capability than you need. For best results, please refer to the specifications guide that came with your blaster.
Resolution Test Pattern - Negative
Resolution Test Pattern - Positive
Creating Halftones in Photoshop
Creating Electronic Halftone Positives
Film vs. Paper Positives
3. washout film processing
Why does the photoresist film start to dissolve before I get the image washed out?
Film is not fully exposed. Utilize instruction guidelines for correct exposure times. A second possibility is that the washout is taking too long, and the emulsion is dissolving from water saturation.
How long should I dry the film for before I use it?
How should I dry the film?
What should I do if my image won’t completely develop/wash out, no matter how long I spray it for?
This is probably caused by lack of density in the artwork. Please see question 4. A second possibility is that the mask has been exposed to U.V. light prior to use. This cannot be corrected.
Why should I use hot water for washing out my film?
Why can’t I use white backlighting in my washout booth?
White light contains ultra-violet rays. These rays may cause the film to be exposed during washout, resulting in difficult or incomplete washout.
When I wash out my film why do the small details dissolve/move/wiggle/delaminate?
What should I do if my whole mask starts to dissolve/delaminate/distort before I can wash out my image?
4. photoresist film processing
My artwork is black, why won’t this film work?
What detail or resolution level can I achieve with photoresist film?
With the proper equipment (vacuum frame exposure, high-pressure washer) and film (3 mil), it is possible to achieve resolution of .003” (.123mm).
Why can’t I get the carrier sheet off of the photo mask easily?
If the film is a washout-style product, this is often caused by an incomplete drying process. Allow the film to dry longer to ease carrier removal. In the case of RapidMask™, this is caused by the strong adhesive nature of the mask material, and is not a defect. After applying RapidMask™ wait 1-2 minutes before trying to remove the carrier. To remove the carrier sheet, pull quickly with the carrier parallel to the substrate.
How long should I expose my films?
Please refer to the instruction guide included with your photoresist film for correct exposure times. If the artwork is of correct density, slightly longer exposure times shouldn’t have a negative effect on the final mask.
Why can’t I use a blacklight from a novelty store to expose? Or sunlight? Or a tanning bed lamp?
How do I avoid air bubbles in my adhesive when it dries?
Are these products dangerous? Bad for my health? Will this process (and its debris) harm the environment?
How should I prepare my glass for etching?
Why do I need yellow/safe lighting in my entire photo mask making process? Why can’t I work under white light?
How do I remove the carrier sheet when I’m ready to blast?
Try to “flick” the corner with a fingernail or razor blade, then remove the carrier with a quick tugging motion. An alternative method is to try lifting a corner of the carrier with a piece of adhesive tape. If the carrier is difficult to remove, the photoresist film may not be completely dry.
5. rapidmask photoresist
What is the easiest way to remove RapidMask after sandcarving?
The easiest way to remove RapidMask is to soak in warm/hot water. Another option is to peel or rub off the mask while rinsing under warm water to prevent scratching of the substrate.
How deep can I etch into my glass with RapidMask?
Will RapidMask work with all substrates?
For applications excluding glass, RapidMask may stain the substrate. The staining appears within two hours of film application to substrate. Testing the substrate is highly recommended. Please contact your PhotoBrasive representative with further questions. Special acrylic instructions: used alone, RapidMask is not a suitable film for use with acrylic substrates. The peel after sandblasting is very difficult and becomes more difficult if the film and substrate are soaked in water. Test all acrylic applications.
Which side of RapidMask should be applied to my glass or substrate?
Which side of RapidMask should I expose through?
I followed the instructions for setting up my exposure unit and the film turns dark blue but doesn't become brittle. Why?
How do I know if RapidMask is exposed properly?
Why must I use photonegative artwork instead of photopositive artwork?
RapidMask does not require a washout step. How does it work?
How do I apply RapidMask to my substrate?
6. ultrapro photoresist
How do I know which side is the dull (emulsion) side of UltraPro?
How long can UltraPro be stored on release paper?
How do I know when UltraPro is dry/ready for use?
UltraPro is usually ready to use once it has returned to a solid color. If the carrier sheet is difficult to remove, this means there is still some moisture between the carrier and the emulsion. Allow the film to dry a little longer, and this should make carrier removal easier.
How long can UltraPro dry at room temperature?
The film should not be left exposed for extended periods after it is completely dry. This will cause loss of adhesive capability. Masks that will not be used right away should be stored on release paper.