The finishes being used on casework and furniture have undergone a major metamorphosis over the past decade or so, as technology both leads and follows aesthetic trends. It leads by offering new solutions such as enhanced UV coatings and environmentally sound sealers and topcoats, and it follows as the market continues to move away from traditional wood stains and clear coatings toward solid colors and lower maintenance solutions.
One thing doesn’t change – woodshops still have to find the best way to apply coatings.
One of those ways is a trend toward reduced pressure (RP) equipment, which is in part a solution being adopted by manufacturers to meet a federal EPA mandate on emissions. These new guns have redesigned spray heads that also accommodate the latest EU rules on VOCs regarding the relationship between pressure and overspray. Requiring high transfer efficiency ratings, they are known in the industry as ‘compliant’ guns.
RP seems to be especially well-suited for urethanes and high solid materials. These guns can deliver product faster than traditional HVLP setups while they consume about half the air volume, and there seems to be a consensus that they deliver a better quality clearcoat. They are also suitable for applying base coats, although many shops report that they have stayed with the HVLP gun for that because of lower overspray, and also for spraying waterborne product. Some users, especially automobile painters, say that they tend to push the PSI settings up a little over the recommendations for RP guns, and this tends to reduce or eliminate orange peel.
Fuji Spray’s new MPX-30 gun is a good example of the newest generation of RP guns. It works with a shop’s standard air compressor, rather than requiring a turbine, and it comes in either gravity feed or siphon models. A high-pressure regulator gauge is included, and the recommended operating pressure is 13.8 cfm at 36 psi. The MPX-30 will handle solvent-based coatings, plus low VOC colors or clearcoat. Its stainless-steel passages are suitable for waterborne coatings, too.
Another high-end gun, the SATAjet 5000 RP comes with a 1.3mm nozzle and a precision air pressure gauge (adjustable to ± 0.10 bar accuracy). Easy to operate, the gun provides relatively simple control of fan shape, material flow and air consumption.
The new SATAjet X 5500 became available in the U.S. and Canada last November. Developed in co-operation with Porsche’s design studio, it’s equipped with the company’s X-nozzle system and has two distinct spray fan shapes for each nozzle size – parallel and oval-shaped. It’s very quiet, matches any paint material, climatic conditions or painting method, and has a much easier and faster cleaning process than traditional guns. It’s very precise because of enhanced atomization, and with constant fan size across the entire nozzle spectrum, it’s quite consistent. As with the latest generation of guns from most manufacturers, a woodshop can choose between HVLP and RP versions, and also between the two different spray fan shapes for each individual nozzle size. Both the 5000 RP and the X 5500 are available with or without an integrated digital/non-digital pressure gauge.
Enhanced atomization is becoming a marketing catchword. In fact, Apollo Sprayers is stressing its value with the newest 7700T, which the company calls the Atomizer. It offers new MicroTech technology for atomizing particles. Other innovations include an improved air distributor and a three-turn air cap design that makes changing nozzles and needle sizes quick and easy. There are five standard caps and three high solids caps available. All wetted internal parts are engineered from marine-grade stainless steel with no O rings.
Handles and apps
In addition to regulatory compliance and more efficient delivery, spray equipment manufacturers are paying more attention to ergonomics, too.
The RX-Apex is a new airless paint spraying gun from Titan (titantool.com) and it comes with a choice of four different handle grips for various sized hands, plus some angle tweaks. The gun is designed for high-volume paint and high-performance protective coatings applications, and it also has the company’s All-Day trigger system. A built-in free-flow swivel makes maneuvering the gun easier and less restrictive, and shop managers will appreciate the Infinity Packing system that doubles the life of the gun and makes rebuilding as easy as reversing the seat and changing the ball.
Graco (graco.com) launched four electric and two gas airless sprayers in February that feature the new Endurance Vortex MaxLife piston pumps and a new app that tracks job progress and manages sprayer performance.
Graco also presents two proportioner options. The ProMix PD positive displacement system mixes material close to the gun, which not only makes color changes faster, but also reduces flushing waste by up to 80 percent. The ProMix 2KS and 3KS are meter-based systems that increase efficiency for mixing two- and three-component materials.
Carlisle Fluid Technologies (carlisleft.com) offers the AG-360 automatic LP gun series from DeVilbiss that lets a woodshop choose between a large menu of caps to meet goals related to environmental compliance, transfer efficiency, atomization power and application requirements. Their stainless-steel passageways cater to both water and solvent bases, and they have independent fan, atomizing and trigger air.
Carlisle’s Ransburg division offers the Aerobell, which is a compact, high speed rotary atomizer, and the Aerobell 268 that delivers high speed electrostatic bell rotary atomization along with 3-color, 3-purge functions. And Carlisle’s BGK division now offers gas catalytic infrared ovens that cure powder or liquid while using less floor space, less equipment and less time. The company offers a number of state-of-the-art guns including the DeVilbiss Tekna ProLite, FLG4 series, the Binks AA1600M airless gun, and the AG-363 air-assisted automatic gun.
Anest Iwata (anestiwata.com) continually updates its guns, including the highly reviewed Supernova family that includes the compliant WS-400 Evotech. The company has a handy chart on its wood applications webpage that lists its various product ranges according to shop size.
Woodshops with higher production levels can find several automatic setups at Cefla’s site (ceflafinishing.com). They are arranged according to task and the size of the production run, whether small, medium or large. It’s a very helpful way to start a search, especially for shops that are not completely familiar with all the latest options.
This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue.