This technique is used to create clones in the shape of himself or others using sand as a medium. The clone's form can be changed instantly into sand, and the enemy's body can be trapped. Its many applications with long-range attacks can have it act as a lure and a decoy. Due to the properties of the sand, Gaara was able to use it as a trap, hiding Gold Dust inside of it. This is where it draws the line with other clones.
In the anime, Sasori used a sand clone as a replacement although it dissolved after being hit.