Air Compressors, HVLP Sprayers
by Bruce Hackett
HVLP systems are the happy medium option between brushes and conventional sprayer systems. They offer greater speed and higher productivity than brushes without any reduction in the quality of finish.
is to provide its readers — professional painting contractors — with useful information and advice about the various products and services that can help them improve performance, productivity, and ultimately, profitability. With that in mind, this month PaintPRO takes a look at conversion HVLP (high volume, low pressure) sprayer systems.
Conversion HVLP sprayer systems are designed primarily for finish work — for example, door and window trim, dentil and crown molding, cabinets, shutters, shelving, bi-fold and louvered doors, overhangs, gutters, fences, and outdoor furniture, to name just a few.
HVLP systems are geared to be a “happy medium” option between brushes and conventional sprayer systems. They offer greater speed and higher productivity than brushes without any reduction in the quality of finish; they also provide far better transfer efficiency (and, consequently, less bounceback and product waste) than conventional sprayers.
“The key advantage of HVLP spray systems is minimized overspray,” said John Rau, Technical Service Representative at SprayTECH Corporation. “Because HVLP systems atomize coatings by very low air pressure, typically 2-10 psi, and high air volume, in the 10-25 cfm range, painting contractors can anticipate transfer efficiency in the range of 65-90 percent. That translates into less time masking and prepping, less clean-up time, and substantially less material waste. All of these factors result in better profitability.”
Additionally, Rau said, HVLP systems help painters comply with new clean air laws designed to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions. “Reducing overspray and bounceback helps protect the environment and the painter as well,” he said.
Conversion HVLP units are able to handle heavier bodied materials (paints, varnishes, polyurethanes, etc.) than turbine-powered units, said Bill Marin, Product Marketing Manager of Titan Tool, Inc., a division of Wagner. “Turbine-based units typically have a lower psi rate and therefore can’t handle materials with heavier viscosity,” he said. “That’s an important reason why conversion HVLP systems have been so successful.”
The HVLP product category is relatively new. Although HVLP systems first appeared in Europe about 40 years ago, they weren’t sold in this country until the mid-1970s, according to Tony Torntore Sr. of Wagner SprayTECH. Torntore worked for Apollo, a British manufacturer, until striking out on his own in the late 1970s with Cap Spray, which he later sold to Wagner. “In the early days, the equipment wasn’t too sophisticated,” he said. “It worked only with thin-bodied paints and varnishes.”
By the early 1980s, Illinois Tool Works (ITW) entered the market with its Zephyr spray system, basically a predecessor to HVLP, according to Richard Wheway of ITW Binks. “That was really a low-pressure, low-volume product. The product category really didn’t become significant until about 1990, around the time we introduced our Mach 1 spray gun. That’s when transfer efficiency improved dramatically.”
Until high-quality HVLP spray systems emerged, painting contractors used brushes for virtually all their finish work, which was typically time-consuming. Indeed, there are still many traditional-minded painters who prefer using brushes over any sprayer system because they feel brushes provide the best quality finish. However, increased demand in the industry for products that could improve productivity and efficiency — and consequently, profitability as well – resulted in the emergence of conversion HVLP systems. Today, a handful of well-regarded products dominate the market.
ITW Binks offers the SprayVantage HVLP Outfit in four models. The top of the line is the 96-1261, a cart-mounted system designed specifically for contractors on the job, according to Wheway. It features a 2-HP, oil-less, low-amperage compressor with a 2.8-gallon pressure tank, a Mach 1 HVLP spray gun with 94-90P nozzle setup, and comes with 25-foot air and fluid hoses. The suggested list price is $1,493.
“The cart holds the compressor, gun, tank and hoses in a compact form, and it’s balanced for ease of movement through virtually any job site,” Wheway said. “The cart allows the contractor to move from area to area, and easily lift it onto a truck or van for transportation,” he said. The compressor offers easy maintenance and a sufficient cubic-feet-per-minute rate for atomizing most products without thinning, he added.
“Most latex trim paints, oil enamels, stains and varnishes can all be sprayed with conversion HVLP systems without thinning,” Wheway said, “although some lesser grades of latex materials may require some thinning in order to atomize.”
The 96-1262 is a smaller version of the 96-1261, with the same compressor and gun, but a 2-quart pressure cup and no cart. It is designed for small jobs and touch-up work, Wheway said. The suggested list price is $1,109. The 96-1120 and 96-1121 come with even smaller 1-quart pressure cups and are priced in the $500 range.
Benron Equipment Incorporated offers the Conversion HVLP Model EZ 2000. Benron’s HVLP is noted for it’s E-Z Load portable cart design and houses two large air reservoirs that are turned upright. Unique to this system is a water and oil extractor, 25’ foot electric cord, and 2 h.p. oiless compressor. Ron Zagorsky notes, “one distinct benefit of the Conversion HVLP is that it does not heat up the air which flows to the gun. With tubine type systems the airflow has a tenedency to get hot, which can cause your material to dry before it hits the surface,” The EZ 2000 system also comes with an air receptacle for attaching a blow gun or other types of air driven tools. The E-Z 2000 suggested retail price is $1,550.
SprayTECH offers the CAPSpray CS10,000, a cart-mounted system which includes a portable compressor, a 2.5-gallon pressure pot, a NBP (non-bleeder pressure) gun, and hoses, according to Rau. The suggested list price is $2,130. SprayTECH also sells a NBC (non-bleeder cup) gun with regulator for use with larger in-shop compressors. Its suggested list price is $370.
“The CS10,000 is intended for use on jobs where high transfer rates and higher production rates are desired,” Rau said. “These systems will give the end user excellent finishes quickly.”
Titan Tool Inc., bought by Wagner SprayTECH 18 months ago but operated as an independent business, sells the C100 HVLP system. The cart-mounted 773-950 model includes a portable 2-HP, 115V oil-less compressor, a Titan Pro Finish 100 sprayer gun, a 2.5-gallon galvanized pressure pot, and 30 feet of airline and fluid hoses. The suggested list price is $1,877.
“The compressor on the C100 also has an outlet tee, which allows the end user to run pneumatic tools like blow guns or nailers as well as spray equipment,” said Marin.
HVLP spray systems even have applications in faux finishing. Faux Effects, a leader in the faux finishing market sell a small specialized unit called the FX 2000. While technically not a Conversion HVLP system, these smaller hand-held turbine units are particularly helpful when applying glaze evenly and quickly to a small area. “Since glazes are fast drying, use of an HVLP allows the painter more time to manipulate the surface with brushes, sponges or other tools”, according to Ray Sanders, President of Faux Effects.
Rau sees the conversion HVLP product line as the fastest growing market segment in the spray equipment industry. “So far this year, we’re exceeding our sales forecast. Once contractors try conversion HVLP systems on the job, they see the benefits of great finishes with high transfer efficiency and higher production rates.”
Wheway agrees, adding that he predicts “greater paint capacity and larger compressors are likely future developments.”