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Used VS New Paint and Powder Lines – What to consider

Often you may be considering adding a paint line to your fabrication process to offer additional services to your customers or maybe you are adding a powder coating line because the cost of outsourcing has become to expensive.  Whatever the reason one of the largest considerations, when you are evaluating a paint or powder line, is whether you will choose a used or new paint or powder line.  The following are key things to consider which should help determine whether a new or used paint line will make more sense.

Paint Line Considerations

This may seem relatively basic but there is a lot of detail that goes into a paint or powder line. For a liquid coating line at the least you will want to consider evaluating the following.

  1. The condition of the conveyor or part mover – If the coating line has a conveyor or part mover  you will want to verify whether or not the conveyor is functional. You also want to verify the year of the conveyor and determine availability of potential replacement parts. If the conveyor is not functional you should then determine the availability of replacement parts. Sometimes if a system is older the replacement parts may have to be custom made or will be severely limited making repair difficult and costly. The year of the conveyor is important because it will help determine the technology that was implemented. Sometimes legacy systems technology can require significant investment to be able to use. This is due to potential change outs related to the mechanical components as well as any potential electrical controls that are involved in the paint line.
  2. The condition of the application equipment – Within the system will typically have a variety of application equipment incorporated ranging from paint heaters to automatic spray guns, to electrostatic spray guns, to fluid transfer pumps. These internal components are a large expense in a system and can easily cost thousands of dollars or more if repairs are needed.  Ideally you want to verify the paint line can effectively transfer material to the application equipment. This will involve verifying that your pumps are moving evenly throughout there stroke and not going fast through an up or down stroke. You will also want to verify any of your paint heaters are effectively heating the amount of material you plan on using as well as determine that any back pressure regulators are working effectively. You also want to verify that the spray equipment is performing properly. Things to check include spray patterns that are even on both sides (which suggests a properly working air cap), no fluid drips (if there are drips this can require new nozzles and needles), and if electrostatic is involved verify proper functioning of the electrostatic charge. Finally, you should verify regulators and mixing equipment is properly working. Ensure your agitator is mixing coating effectively and that your regulators are allowing to properly control fluid and/or air pressure in your paint line.
  3. The condition of any curing ovens – You will want to check curing ovens for the factors mentioned below (in the powder coating section)
  4. The control systems – A final aspect of verification is the controller involved with the system.  Depending on the type of system you way have a plc controller.  If the plc controls are older and not working properly or effectively you can often have a significant investment that will be needed to get the controls working correctly. Additionally, older controls may not be as precise in their control abilities or provide as much feedback about any potential line problems.
  5. The Quality of technology – While equipment advances are not always over night with time paint lines have improved in their control systems, feedback mechanisms, and in some ways application equipment design. What this can mean is that newer lines can often require less repair work and potentially run more efficiently. Additionally, support for the system should remain easier for a longer period of time (if your system is significantly older it can harder to find service techs or replacement parts as needed).

Powder Line Considerations

1. The type and condition of treatment system – You always want to verify that your powder line will be sufficient to meet any coating requirement that may be present. Depending on the coating and application this can require specific pre treatment requirements. Within the pre treatment system you want to verify that the washer is in good shape. You will want to verify that the controls allow for proper control of the pre treatment process. You want to verify that the containment system is not damaged or improperly functioning. You should also evaluate whether the system is properly designed to meet any safety or environmental changes that have occurred since the original system design.

2. The condition of the powder application equipment – After you have determined the treatment system is in good condition you will want to evaluate the powder application portion of the powder line. Important things to evaluate with the powder application portion include if the powder guns are functioning. This will involve checking to see if the powder is coming out in a good pattern. You will want to ensure that the powder feeding equipment works effectively as well and that there are no delays in material when spraying is underway.

3. The condition of the oven – If your powder coating line has an oven you want to ensure that it will be able to rise the product to temperature.  If there is an oven that is used to bring the product surface up to an adequate temperature you want to confirm that the oven will perform effectively for your given product (especially if it is different than the original product the line was used for).  You will want to ensure that the oven can effectively cure your product in the given space that is allocated (if not this could require costly upgrades or modifications to ensure it will work).
4. Condition of controls – If all the equipment within the line is working you will want to validate if the controls work effectively. If you are unable to utilize the controls correctly this could require repairs or upgrades to ensure that the system will be able to continue to work long term.

New Powder or Paint Lines

If after reviewing all the factors mentioned above it seems like the amount of effort in repairs, replacement parts, and any pertinent technological upgrades is worth the difference than a used system may be appropriate. You will still want to verify with the coatings provider that the system will be able to meet your paint or powder line process needs. However, with a new line, you can potentially get up to date technology which can help yield improved production rates at lower costs. Additionally, you may not have routine expensive repairs. These factors can often make the overall cost of a new paint line lower than an old paint line (it will just depend on your situation).


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