Society of Protective Coatings Launches New AB 4 Standard, Supporting the Use of Environmental “Recyclable Encapsulated Abrasive Media”

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The Society of Protective Coatings released its latest Abrasive Specification – SSPC-AB 4, allowing for the proper specification of environmentally friendly Recyclable Encapsulated Abrasive Media like Sponge-Jet Sponge Media™. Pre-existing standards never addressed manufactured Sponge Media abrasives because such abrasives use two components – a raw abrasive and a sponge-like material to form a singular, much larger particle. Recyclable Encapsulated Abrasive Media also use standard abrasives like aluminum oxide and has the same performance characteristics, but in this case include a second dust and rebound-suppressing component.

The Society of Protective Coatings (SSPC) released its latest Abrasive Specification – SSPC-AB 4, making it the first update since 2000. The AB series of specifications establish proper quality controls and procedures for using Recyclable Encapsulated Abrasive Media during surface preparation. While these standards are not referred to directly in many coating specifications, they are used from within other SSPC documents – most notably SSPC-SP7, SSPC-SP6, SSPC-SP10 and SSPC-SP5. These are perhaps the most widely cited standards for surface preparation world wide and certainly within the USA. The SP series of standards has always required that abrasives meet an AB quality standard. Before this AB 4 release, exceptions allowed for the use of composite abrasives like Sponge Media, as no AB abrasive quality standards were applicable.

“Now with AB 4 in place it will be easier to specify and utilize this new environmental cost-saving abrasive technology…” explains Bill McLaughlin, Sponge-Jet VP of Technology, “coating engineers and facility managers can now use SSPC-AB 4 to properly specify composite abrasives.” He adds, “It is important to note that these composite particles not only have standard high-performance abrasives – such as aluminum oxide, and steel grit but also include a second component which has the dust and rebound suppressant qualities known to this abrasive type.”

As SSPC suggests, “this standard provides requirements for selecting and evaluating abrasive media encapsulated in a compressible non-uniform matrix.” Other generic names for Recyclable Encapsulated Abrasive Media that may meet this specification are: pliant media, composite abrasives, soft abrasives or manufactured abrasives. This standard will further allow engineers wishing to specify a low dust, low damage (low ricochet) abrasive on a particular project to specifically cite AB 4 as part of the surface preparation standard. For example: “ The surface shall be abrasive blasted to a SSPC-SP 5 (white metal) level of cleanliness utilizing abrasives which meet the AB 4 quality standard”.

To learn more about the new SSPC-AB 4 specification, contact the Society of Protective Coatings at +1-412-281-2331 or visit

Sponge-Jet is headquartered in Portsmouth, NH. They are the world’s leading manufacturer of dry, low dust abrasive blasting media and equipment. For more information, contact your local Sponge-Jet representative, visit or call 1-603-610-7950.

Note: Other surface preparation standards such as: NACE (National Association of Corrosion Engineers) No. 4, No. 3, No. 2, No. 1 and ISO’s SA-1, SA-2, SA-2½ and SA-3 compare directly to the SSPC SP series of standards described above.


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Tony Anni
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