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Anti-static guns might have a place in your paint department

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 - 07:00
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If you attend trade shows or spend any amount of time talking to vendors and sales reps, you’ve no doubt heard pitches for products that seemed a bit unnecessary or too good to be true. That’s the nature of new or upgraded products. Collision industry manufacturers roll out a host of new options annually. Many provide just what they promise. Some become big hits. Others make quick market exits or are relegated to a shop drawer or corner where they gather dust until they’re tossed out.

(Photo courtesy of Static Solutions) Anti-static guns should be recharged each night to ensure they can be used over the course of a busy work day. Also, they should not be kept in a spraybooth during a bake cycle and need to be free of overspray

Anti-static guns seemed headed to this final destination final when they were first offered a few years ago. Their early dismissal, by some repairers, had little to do with a lack of purpose. Static has always been an immense and costly issue in paint departments. Static charges attract dust and other particulates to vehicle parts, creating imperfections in finishes that must be removed at shop expense.

Repairers scoffed at anti-static guns, for one, because there were anti-static wipes and other products already on the market claiming to do the same work. Second, there was the appearance of the guns themselves. Resembling styling blow dryers, they seemed more at home in a hair salon than a shop. Throw in the “too good to be true” claims attached to such products, and little wonder some time had to pass for anti-static guns to gain attention.

That interest has since sparked, in part, after shops started posting videos of the guns online where curious repairers could investigate further. Manufacturers also allowed repairers to try out the guns at no cost. The verdict from many across the industry: Anti-static guns work—if they’re used correctly. When that happens, they can offer significant savings in time and materials. Interested? Consider the following information on anti-static guns to see if they’re a worthy investment for your operation.

Rules of attraction

Understanding how anti-static guns work means reviewing some basic science lessons. All materials are made up of atoms. Each atom consists of three particles: protons, which carry a positive charge; neutrons, with no charge; and electrons, which are negative charged. Protons and neutrons form the nucleus of the atom with electrons orbiting from outside.

Atoms have the same number of protons and electrons, so their charge is neutral. However, when they come into contact with other atoms, electrons are either taken away or added. The imbalance of electrons charges atoms. In their new form, they become ions, carrying either have a positive charge, when protons outnumber electrons, or a negative charge when electrons hold the advantage. Since they’re charged, ions either attract one other (when they have different charges) or repel each other (when the charges are the same).

In the shop, these charges are evident as static electricity, which collects along the surface of parts. Repairers create ions, static electricity, when they touch surfaces or cause surfaces to touch one another temporarily. In the paint department, static electricity is created simply by handling parts, especially during prep when parts are cleaned and wiped down. This static attracts particles that then creates paint flaws. Essentially, painters set finishes up for damage simply by prepping them.

(Photo courtesy of Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes) Normal prep work produces static electricity on parts that can attract particles, which in turn create imperfections when finishes are applied.

Anti-static guns remove static by spraying ionized air. Negative ions are drawn to positive ones and vice versa, neutralizing any charges. With no charge, no particles can cling to the part surface. That translates into finishes with no static imperfections.

Basic training

Anti-static guns produced ionized air by forcing compressed air over charged “pins.” These guns typically either use two pins, with each producing different type of charge, or a single pin that generates both positive and negative charges.

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