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Sandblasting etching refers to the method of utilizing sandblasting to make etchings or purposeful marks in materials, especially glass. While the process of sandblasting can be applied to other formats or materials, such as stone, it is most often used to create intricate designs in glass. The usefulness of sandblasting for the purpose of preparing surfaces is derived from the abrasive nature of sand, a material that has gritty attributes and is also the right size to be applied to the desired surfaces through equipment that propels the sand to the material it is directed toward. This abrasiveness can be put to use for decorative purposes through the deliberate manipulation of the sand to particular spots on the surface of the material to be designed in a manner that will allow the design to take shape.
Step one in sandblasting etching is to select the material that will be worked utilized. The person who wants to use the sandblasting etching technique must have formed a concept that will be the basis of the sandblasting etching in the sense that it will clue him or her as to the manner in which to direct the nozzle of the sandblasting machine. Some people like to generate a concept using the aid of design computer software or by simply drawing something on a piece of paper to serve as a visual for the sandblasting etching process. When the design concept is ready, the surface of the material to be etched will be prepared, depending on the type of material. In the case of glass, the surface may be wiped with a cleaner that is specifically meant for that purpose.
Other preparatory practices include using a specifically selected material to protect the rest of the material surface from the abrasive sand particles. In the case of glass, a special type of paper that is meant for this purpose will be used to cover the work surface, and the design will be printed from the computer or hand-drawn and placed on top of the protective paper. The nozzle of the sandblasting machine will be directed along the lines of the design on the printed paper until the concept has been recreated on the glass surface. When sandblasting etching is done in a controlled manner, the results can be breathtaking to behold.