Crystal Mark Micro Abrasive Processing 101

How does Micro Abrasive Processing work?

In Micro Abrasive Processing, precision graded abrasive particles are introduced into a stream of compressed gas. The mixture is transported through a hose, and the flow is then focused through a small nozzle aimed at the area to be processed.

Why Crystal Mark Micro Abrasive Processing?

SWAM BLASTERS® are the only Micro Abrasive Processing systems on the market to provide truly independent control over the pressure and amount of abrasive introduced into the air stream.

  • Precision: Crystal Mark micro abrasive processing technology can feed abrasive particles from as coarse as 500 microns to as fine as sub-micron level.
  • Versatility: Micro Abrasive Processing can be used for selective cleaning (for example, conformal coating removal from electronic circuit boards), de-burring, micro machining (for example, silicon wafer etching for MEMS circuits on silicon wafers), surface texturing.
  • Automation: The process for a specific application can be fully automated for use in industrial set up.
  • Application Process Development: Crystal Mark has refined methodology to understand application requirements, and to develop a  custom process that provides required controllability, consistency and precision.
  • Easy to Use: The technology is easy to learn; it doesn’t require highly skilled professionals to run the process.
  • Environmentally Friendly: The process doesn’t use any chemical solvents or harmful chemicals. Disposal of used abrasive particles is clean.

What makes up a Micro Abrasive Processing system?

  • SWAM® Micro Sand Blaster
  • Work Chamber to create safe, ergonomic work area
  • Dust Collector to collect the spent abrasive for disposal
  • Compressed Air (Carrier Gas)
  • Air Dryer as required
  • In the case of large custom applications, automated systems based on rotary abrader, conveyor belt based system, or 3-axes nozzle positioning systems. Utilizing the above platforms, automation is custom designed as required for the customer’s specific project.
  • Application specific accessories – for example, point ionizer to control ESD (electro static discharge) for conformal coating removal from circuit boards


Crystal Mark has also developed a number of Complete Work Cells (CWC) that combine different modules in one.

What are the variables to control while using Micro Abrasive Processing?

  1. Type of abrasive powder: hardness, size and shape of particles
    • Hardness: Most of the applications require the abrasive to be softer than the substrate to avoid damage to the target work piece.
    • Size: A larger abrasive particle delivers more kinetic energy to the substrate than a smaller particle.
    • Shape: Abrasive particles that have sharp and pointed edges cut or strip away surface material upon impact faster than rounded or spherically shaped particles.
  2. Air Pressure
  3. Ratio of abrasive powder to air flow volume – powder flow rate
  4. Nozzle Diameter
  5. Distance of the Nozzle from the Work piece
  6. Duration of the process application – feed rate


The higher the air pressure and the smaller the nozzle diameter, the faster the abrasive particle is propelled at the work piece allowing optimum abrading results. When a less aggressive result is desired, the air pressure can be reduced, the amount of powder in the air stream can be adjusted and/or the nozzle diameter can be increased to slow down the velocity of the abrasive particle thus causing less material removal upon impact.


Crystal Mark provides nozzle options ranging from .006″ to .090″ in diameter. It is also possible to develop a fully customized nozzle when required for a specific application.

What makes Crystal Mark’s Micro Abrasive Processing so effective?

ONE: Complete Process Control:

Crystal Mark’s SWAM BLASTER® Micro Sandblasters offer adjustable air pressure regulation independent of the powder flow regulation. With the vibratory feed system, SWAM Blasters can handle a much wider range of abrasives types and size compared to any other competitors.


TWO: Unparalleled Performance, Possibilities:

  • Crystal Mark used vibration based feed system for abrasives. This allows for a much wider range of abrasive particles sizes and air/gas pressure. The technology allows for abrasive particles as coarse as 500 microns, or as fine as sub-micron level.
  • For precision in working with sensitive substrates or applications, Crystal Mark micro abrasive equipment is capable of effectively feeding abrasive or other materials at very low pressures, under 1 psi.
  • For aggressive applications higher pressure systems can be built: 140-300 psi.


THREE: Technology Customized for Application:

  • Crystal Mark has an extensive range of product configurations with flexibility to customize the solution as required to achieve the customer’s specific objective.
  • As required, Crystal Mark is able to provide a fully automated system or a manual system for Micro Abrasive Processing. Crystal Mark has very strong vertical manufacturing capabilities to design custom fixtures and customized mechanical systems to deliver fully integrated solutions.
  • The Crystal Mark team has refined methodology to understand each application, and develop specific product configuration.
  • Customers have the option to send samples and validate the use case before making the decision on buying the equipment.


FOUR: Abrasives: Crystal Mark has developed a range of abrasive powders to achieve the required application. In Micro Abrasive Processing, if you can’t control the abrasive then your process is out of control.

How can I learn more about the technology?