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How to Fix and Reduce Problems in the Paint Department of Your Manufacturing Plant

If you are a manufacturer or fabricator you know all to well that things can be moving smoothly along when all of a sudden your product gets into the paint department and rather than moving quickly everything grinds to a halt. Your painter may not be getting the paint to apply correctly, your paint equipment works half the time and the other half the time don’t, the paint will not flow from your paint gun or other similar issues. As a manufacturer delays in your paint department cost you time and money which is why knowing how to properly address these issues can be critical. This article will cover a variety of reasons problems occur in your paint department and how to fix them.

Problem 1 – My Paint and Finish Are Always Different

This is a common problem in manufacturing where one batch of paint provides an incredible finish and the next is completely different. When it comes to painting in manufacturing you should be able to produce the same result over and over with minimal change and with minimal setup. However to do this a variety of things have to happen. You have to have your paint properly set up, your paint equipment properly selected to enable spraying your coating, and the environmental factors have to be appropriate. Each are important but here is how you can address each area.

Paint is Properly Set Up

For your paint to be properly set up you should have the technical data sheets for each of your paints. The technical data sheet will provide you how much paint thinner you can add along with other factors. However one of the best ways to know that your paint is being prepared the same way every time is to use a proper viscosity measurement cup. Common options include Ford or Zahn Cups which measure paint viscosity based on how long the cup takes for paint to flow out you can watch the tutorial on using a viscosity cup here. When you use a viscosity cup your aim is to get about the same time in seconds every time you use the cup. You also will want to know the time it takes because this can help you or a paint equipment company like us, know the proper spray gun or spray equipment to use.

Theoretically if you mix the same amount of solvent and everything else is the same (coating temperature, ect) you would achieve the same viscosity. However, do to a variety of influencing factors like temperature and batch differences it is always best to use a precise measuring device to know exactly what your viscosity is.

Proper Paint Equipment Selection

When it comes to the paint equipment itself, a viscosity reading of 20 – 30 seconds in a Zahn 2 cup is an ideal viscosity for ease of spraying. Thicker material may require slight thinning or equipment setup considerations to spray effectively. No matter what material you are spraying you want to let your equipment provider know as it will change what air cap, the type of spray equipment, and the settings they will use. If you notice your spray gun will not break your coating up its typically an air cap problem, if you cannot get enough paint to flow from your spray equipment it is a problem with the fluid nozzle size or how the equipment is being fed paint. Ultimately if your routinely having problems with how the material sprays consider consulting an equipment provider, like us, to ensure your equipment is proper for your spray needs.

Environmental Factors

If your paint is consistently the same viscosity using a measuring cup like a Zahn or Ford cup and you have verified your equipment is properly selected a final factor to consider is environmental control. If you are still having issues and your paint area doesn’t have humidity or temperature control this could be the source of your paint department problems. Environment problems include issues with heat and humidity. Hot and cold impact the viscosity of your material while humidity impacts the way paint will apply as well. If you have eliminated the other two issues mentioned as well as operator issues then it is most likely an issue with environmental control.

Painter Technique

Spraying paint requires a little bit of practice to learn how to not apply excessive amounts of paint at a time or how to reduce waste. However, the hardest part about spraying paint is making sure the paint is properly set and the equipment is set for the particular paint.

Problem 2 – My Paint Equipment Constantly Has Problems

If you are constantly having problems with paint equipment breaking or not working this is most likely due to not having selected proper equipment for your application or improper maintenance of your spray equipment. If you have determined you have selected the right spray equipment and are still having issues consider how you clean your spray equipment.

For a basic spray gun you should flush it with solvent until clear after every time you paint. You can store the air cap in solvent and a few times a week (depending on painting volume) you can remove the needle and nozzle to also be placed in solvent. If you are going to leave your spray equipment a few days before you use it again take the air cap, fluid nozzle, and needle and place it in appropriate solvent.

For other equipment like airless sprayers you will follow a slightly different routine.  You can learn about airless sprayer clean up here.

Problem 3 – I can’t move product through quick enough

If you cannot get product through painting fast enough you have to determine if its due to the paint application or drying of the paint after it is applied. If its due to drying taking too long you should evaluate whether your coating can be cured faster with heat or if not with heat with options to accelerate water borne cure times.

If your slow down in painting is due to not applying paint fast enough you can evaluate options like airless paint sprayers to see if they make more sense then your current solution or you can consider other ideas as well.

Ultimately problems in your paint department whether they are due to finish quality issues, production issues, or equipment problems cost you time and money. By addressing the factors mentioned in this article you can often times reduce these problematic issues. If you need further assistance with the issues discussed in this article you can contact us at any time.

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