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Proper care for your spray guns

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - 07:00
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When it comes to your paint department, little things really do mean a lot. Dust, poorly measured formulas, dirty spray booth filters, technicians not wearing their suits and hoods and poor spraying technique can wreak havoc on your work —producing poor, flawed finishes whose follow-up repairs diminish efficiency and cut profits.

Consider then the potential problems caused when your most important painting tool, the spray gun, isn't functioning properly. Faulty guns produce these same poor finishes, often to a worse degree.

Yet, many shops overlook the proper care of this crucial tool, often until it meets an early demise and needs replaced. By then, the shop has two expensive issues to address — a string of jobs that need costly re-dos and investment in a new gun (which typically prices out at $600).

All this can be avoided by investing a few extra minutes daily and weekly spent cleaning and caring for spray guns according to manufacturer specifications. Use these general recommendations as a guide.

Stock the right items
The keys to proper cleaning start with having the proper tools and products on hand for the job. Despite being durable, spray guns are also fairly delicate. They can be easily damaged when being cleaned if repairers use unapproved products and tools.

Avoid this by stocking only those cleaning solutions permitted by the gun and paint manufacturer. The basic rules are: Guns used for waterborne products should be cleaned only with pH-neutral solutions. Avoid chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents, which can corrode aluminum and galvanized parts for solvent-based paints.

Consider investing in tools that reduce the possibility of damage. Repairers sometimes resort to using wire brushes, key files or paper clips for cleaning simply because they're available in a shop. These items can wreck the delicate passages in a gun and permanently ruin the spray pattern. Clear these items out of the paint department and instead stock spray gun cleaning tool sets. These sets typically include cleaning brushes in various sizes (large, medium and double-sided), nozzle cleaning needles and a high-performance lubricant.

Consider as well investing in a sealed, automatic spray gun cleaner. These units provide safer, quicker, more thorough cleanings than those performed manually and use less cleaning solution. Because they're sealed, they cut the release of VOCs.

(Photo courtesy of Sherwin-Williams) - A poorly maintained spray gun costs a shop twice--in poor finishes that must be redone and in reduced service life. (Photo courtesy of Anest-Iawata) - A spray gun cleaning kit contains all the tools necessary for a proper cleaning and prevents employees from using unauthorized tools that can damage a gun.
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