Bead blasting is a finishing technique for 3D-printed parts. It’s an abrasive blasting method, which means that it is similar to sandblasting and water blasting (pressure washing). In bead blasting, fine beads of plastic, glass, or another substance are forcibly sprayed over the surface of a part. The type of beads are chosen depending on the part’s material in order to smooth the finish of the part without damaging it.
Bead blasting creates a uniform matte finish over the surface of the part. Most customers consider this the standard finish—build markings are smoothed out, but additional high quality finishing has not been applied. It’s ideal for assessing a prototype, or for finishing a piece that doesn’t need a “show ready” finish. Bead blasting also makes it easier to photograph parts because it reduces the light reflections from the part’s surface. For pieces that will be used for sales meetings and trade shows, most customers prefer a higher quality finish.