Over the past 30 years or so, air quality and other environmental regulations have placed an increasing burden on paint shops. In that time, materials suppliers have done their part to keep shops in compliance by developing new, environmentally friendly paint formulations and processes.
On the other hand, says Kevin Kelley, equipment suppliers haven’t really held up their end of the bargain that well. But, he adds, that’s changed with his company’s introduction of a line of spray guns that are claimed to increase transfer efficiency, lower energy costs, and provide other operating, safety and environmental benefits.
Kelley is president and CEO of DUX Area Inc. (Seattle, WA). A relatively new player on the equipment scene, the company was founded in 2004 and claims to have basically reinvented the paint spray gun using patented air flow technology originally developed to help Formula Three race car engines breathe better.
The guns atomize paint differently than conventional spray guns, allowing lower operating pressures that reduce booth fog and overspray and result in transfer efficiency gains of 15-40%. DUX says that lower input pressures also reduce the work load on shop compressors and save energy cost—each 2-psi reduction in input pressure can save 1 kWh of electricity, according to the company.
Inside the DUX guns, straight passages and smooth transitions, plus fewer obstructions than a conventional design, result in laminar air flow. In contrast, conventional guns have a longer, more convoluted air path and obstructions that create turbulence, require higher input pressures, and can create a static charge on coating particles that worsens overspray and attracts contaminant particles.
Other benefits resulting from lower spray pressures include a healthier work environment, faster spray cycle times and reduced filter replacement and cleanup costs. Less entrapped air in the coating speeds film build and minimizes defects such as sagging or orange peel. Ergonomically, the simplified design results in a balanced, lightweight gun that’s easy for operators to handle—the company’s pressure-feed model, for example, weighs in at 14.1 oz.
DUX says the guns have been tested spraying a wide variety of materials, from lacquers with 15% solids to 100%-solids epoxy materials. The company is currently marketing pressure-feed and gravity-feed guns for manual applications as well as a model designed for robotic or reciprocator paint application.
According to DUX, the guns are already being used by approximately 150 companies in the automotive, aerospace, truck/trailer, woodworking and other industries.