Taking steps to properly maintain the paint booth inside of a body shop is crucial. Not only does this process make the booth a safer environment to work in, but it also increases throughput by consistently producing higher quality finishes versus painting in uncontrolled environments. Without a well-maintained paint booth, body shops run the risk of an inefficient repair process that results with a poor finish quality and decreased bottom line. By following a series of simple steps, you can ensure that your paint booth continues performing optimally.
The first step of the process is checking the filters. It is not uncommon to see shops with downdraft ceiling filters that are over one year old. Depending on usage, this might be acceptable. However, if you are painting a lot of cars every week, you may have reached capacity and are losing airflow. Airflow measurement readings throughout the booth should be at a minimum of 80 feet per minute; anything less could indicate poor filter performance.
|This booth has overspray and low lighting|
Another area to check are the pre-filters. Most modern booths have them, but they are frequently overlooked. Look for any access panels with hinges or latches and you will likely find pre-filters or other serviceable items inside. These filters protect your main ceiling filters and need to be changed more often. If they are not maintained properly, you will have a much shorter life for your ceiling filters.
Floor filters or exhaust filters must be changed more frequently, as often as once a week for booths that are in constant use. Clogged floor filters can quickly cause a major loss in air movement, which will reduce production, quality and hinder the performance of paint materials — ultimately reducing profits. Overly-clogged or missing exhaust filters can lead to overspray build-up in the stacks, which restrict air flow, damage components within the stack such as fan blades and bearings, and significantly increase the risk of a fire.
Booth usage plays a role in how often filters should be changed. When they are ignored, several problems arise that result from poor air movement:
- Increased flash-times and poor curing
- Excess dirt found in topcoats and clearcoats
- Reduced air exchange, increasing the potential for solvent-pop
- Overspray contaminating other panels
- Overspray covering the walls and lights in the booth
- Reduced cycle time
Think about how you are controlling the dust build-up on the booth floor. Wetting the floor is the age-old way of keeping dust on the floor, leading to rework when the hose splashes water on the freshly cleared quarter. Additionally, introducing humidity in waterborne paint processes drastically affects performance. Dust control products designed to specifically address this issue are more efficient. Some are sprayed on the floor while others are fabric that are rolled. These solutions reduce time spent buffing and/or reworking panels. They vary in maintenance intervals, but all will increase consistency and quality. If you have a cross flow or side extraction downdraft, these floor coatings are even more important as your floor provides a major source of dust in the topcoat.