There is a big market out there for people doing glass etching. But that market is primarily for etching glass in buildings (homes or businesses) that are under construction. Either they are new construction or are being remodeled. This is because the glass can easily be taken to the person doing the etching, to work on in his/her studio, before it is needed at the construction site.
There is actually a much larger potential market in etching installed glass, where the owners don't want to remove the glass and take it to someone's studio to have it etched. This is because there is a much, much larger number of buildings out there that are already built than those that are under construction at any given time.
Have blaster, will travel.
This blaster uses a powerful vacuum return system to recapture dust and abrasive after it has been shot out the nozzle, has hit the glass and etched it, and has bounced off. This vacuum return system then delivers the used abrasive back to the blaster where the dust is separated and the reusable abrasive is recycled through the blaster continuously.
With an operator who has some experience or practice, very little dust or abrasive escapes. It does take some practice, and taking a seminar can speed up your learning curve substantially. However, the techniques are neither difficult nor time consuming to learn.
Some of the things you have to learn are how to apply the resist to a vertical piece of glass, how to prepare the image, how to achieve even coverage, whether to try reverse blasting or stick with the positive, how to etch on tempered glass, and others. The solutions are introduced in our Video #1 and Video #2 and are covered in detail in our class on On-site Glass Etching. Many people feel comfortable enough with the idea of On-site Etching after seeing the videos that they just get the equipment and get started.
This blaster is a siphon system, so it requires a substantial amount of air to operate continuously for long periods of time. An important consideration is what type of compressor is required and whether purchasing one is worth the money. This topic is covered in our publication, Guide to Selecting an Air Compressor for Glass Etching. If your existing compressor is not adequate, or if it is not portable, renting a larger compressor could be a viable, low-cost option for you to get into on-site blasting.
Some people doing on-site blasting use small, 110v compressors even though these compressors do not provide enough air to blast for long periods of time. They simply modify their blasting technique to alternate short periods of cutting out the resist with short periods of blasting, instead of doing all the cutting first and then all of the blasting. Some people use two small compressors hooked together to provide a longer period of blasting time before running out of air. Others buy or rent gas engine compressors that put out larger amounts of air.
The On-site Blaster comes with all hoses, guages, and even a dedicated regulator. All you need to do is fill with about 30 pounds of abrasive and connect to the air hose from your compressor.
The On-site Blaster can be used both to etch a project with installed glass and to touch up a given area after finishing.
You can etch a piece of installed glass with very little exposure to dust and abrasive. Here Chuck, one of our illustrious former On-site Class students learns the ins and outs of on site blasting.
Your On-site Blasting System
This is one of the easiest systems to put together, because almost everything is included! You just need to get abrasive and we highly recommend getting a carbide replacement nozzle. You will eventually need to get replacements for the other wear parts, like the brush around the nozzle and the air jet that matches the nozzle, but it will be some time before you need these. We recommend 180 grit abrasive because it is a better for etching tempered glass than the coarser grits.