Getting Lighter

March 1, 1999
Among the most popular tools in the inventory of most general rental centers, paint-spraying equipment is becoming easier to use and carry, according

Among the most popular tools in the inventory of most general rental centers, paint-spraying equipment is becoming easier to use and carry, according to manufacturers surveyed by RER. Making lighter, more portable machines has been the principal goal of most suppliers.

"Converting from AC to DC motors has helped to make airless paint sprayers more lightweight," says Red Wieburg of Wieburg Enterprises, Camdenton, Mo. "Machines have to be more powerful, but smaller and easier for the customer to handle."

The trend toward lighter machines is not without risk, says Scott Silas of H.E.R.O. Industries, Burnaby, British Columbia. "The DC motor is less durable and everything will run faster and hotter," he notes. "But at the same time, units will be easier to service and more convenient for the customer."

Bill Sorensen of Titan Tool, Franklin Lakes, N.J., agrees that easier serviceability will be an attractive feature for rental companies in the coming years. "We've redesigned our pump, making it a one-piece block instead of three pieces," he says. "It's very simple for service guys to repair it. Most airless units should go a couple of years before any real repair is needed. Overall, machines are getting simpler and simpler to repair. I take apart pumps at our booth at trade shows, showing customers what they're made of and how simple they are. Most rental people can observe and then just do it themselves; it's that easy."

More advanced electronic systems are enhancing ease-of-use. "With the new technology, you can turn the motor on when you pull the trigger with only a very minimal drop in pressure," says Wieburg. "With today's heavy-body paint, you don't notice the dead band as you would in the past, because the paint is applied in a more consistent stream."

The simplification trend extends to a variety of components and parts. "A case in point is the seals that go into the bases," says Bill Nagle of ASM Co., Orange, Calif. "We're making them universal now. Before, we had a variety of different seals; now, we're using just one. We're trying to make the machines as trouble-free as possible."

Simplification of the fluid section has been the intent of some manufacturers. "Our packings are stationary now, and they are also spring-loaded," says Bill Bradley, Spray Tech Corp., Plymouth, Minn. "That includes the life of the fluid section. We've also gone to a device in the front called a Scottish yolk, which drives the piston rod directly up and down, also adding to its life.

"We're also going to a permanent magnet DC-type motor so that the customer can run a longer extension cord without fear of burning up the motor. We'll continue to see smaller, more efficient units and smaller motor technology in the future, as well as more efficient pressure controls so that you can turn down the pressure even further on a piston-styled pump." Sorensen adds that simplification of the fluid section will make the cleaning process simpler for rental centers and customers alike.

As machines become more compact, however, manufacturers run into a challenge: Paint is being made with thicker coatings to reduce volatile organic compounds, in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

"[The thickness] does make it more difficult to spray and break up those coatings," says Bradley. "That's why we have to make more efficient paint sprayers, so that we can keep a small package, but still be able to effectively spray and break up those extra coatings." Manufacturers are working to develop smaller tips to downsize the flow of thicker paint.

While machines are becoming simpler to carry, maintain and clean, manufacturers still continue to emphasize the importance of customer instruction. "In application techniques, we still have to work together as an industry," says Sorensen. "We have to make sure the customer is getting maximum quality in using the equipment. We have to work with the rental centers to make sure their people know how to use the equipment themselves. That's why I encourage rental companies to let employees take the machines home and use them themselves, to make sure they have the experience to instruct the customer as an experienced user."