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What you need to know about spraying finishes with nitrogen

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 07:00
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The overall result of moving to nitrogen is a much more efficient paint department that produces better finishes using less product with far less waste, reduced costs and improved cycle times. That’s more money in the pockets of repairers.

How does this technology work?

Most nitrogen systems utilize an in-line nitrogen source located between a shop’s compressed air supply and its spray guns. The system pulls nitrogen out of the atmospheric air--which is 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen and one percent trace gases. Air is pushed through a pre-filtration system and then through a nitrogen membrane separator before being heated in a hosing outlet. The process filters out oxygen and other elements leaving only nitrogen, which is then ionized and heated.

(Photo courtesy of Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes) Because nitrogen sprays contain no moisture, flash and bake times are reduced, which in turn cuts spraybooth costs such as maintenance and electrical use.

To use the system, painters simply connect their guns as they would with compressed air. No special spraying techniques are necessary, though painters should be aware they won’t need to apply as much finish as they previously needed.

What does spraying with nitrogen cost in 2018? What should shops expect to invest?

Derek Naidoo, CEO of NITROHEAT, reports his system costs $21,000, with annual maintenance running $600 to cover changing two sets of filters every six months.

What kind of ROI should shops expect?

Naidoo says the system can pay for itself in 14 months if a shop adds just one more paint job a week (though he says on average most shops using nitrogen technology add one more job every day). The higher a shop’s work volume, the more quickly the investment is recovered.

Does nitrogen spraying deliver what it promises?

Apparently so. ABRN found plenty of dedicated fans of the technology. Naidoo alone has sold his product to more than 700 shops. Randy Drury, owner of Full Service Auto Stop in Houston says he moved to the technology 8 years ago and couldn’t be happier. “It does everything it claims,” he says. “My guys were skeptical, but that changed one day after they began using it. It really did change how we worked for the better.”

Considering all the benefits and ease of use, why hasn’t spraying with nitrogen become far more popular over the past decade?

A number of factors have conspired against large-scale adoption of nitrogen sprays.

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