Prior to the popularisation of shot blasting, sandblasting was the primary abrasive treatment. As sand is a more readily available resource than alternatives, it was desirable. However, the use of sand had inherent issues such as moisture content making it challenging to spread with compressed air. Furthermore, the health hazard posed is much greater. The sand types typically used in sandblasting have a high silica content. If inhaled, these can cause are respiratory problems and are a proven cause of lung cancer.
With developments in technology, sand struggles to compete with modern-day alternatives. Whereas sandblasting is limited to using a compressed air blasting process, treatment using centrifugal forces is more versatile and generally more thorough.
Despite the process being over 200 years old, sandblasting still has its uses in the modern world. As it is less force than shot blasting, it is more forgiving and can be used through handheld nozzles for greater focus. As a result, a smoother finish can be achieved, and more fragile surfaces can be treated with a lower risk of damage e.g. glass. The effect of the process ifs very similar to sandpapering.
In comparison, shot blasting is a much more suitable option for more vigorous abrasion materials like steel shot. The heavy-duty materials, when fired at force, are able to loosen rust to clean the target surface.