Painting Large Steel Tanks


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Q. I am a manufacturing engineer trying to up-grade our painting operation. We fabricate large (16-ft dia. x 20-ft tall) steel tanks in our factory. To paint them, we are considering a plan to install a large paint booth. We are seeking advice on automating the painting booth. We have turntables to turn the tanks and now plan to automate the process with automatic gun heads. Our initial thought is to use automatic heads with high-volume pumps. We currently use an industrial enamel but would consider newer coatings and processes if they are applicable. Could you provide some practical advice before we start purchasing equipment and planning our production flow? J. V.


A. A 16-ft dia. x 20-ft tall tank is a big item. The decision to paint them manually or automatically depends on how many tanks you produce. For manual application on just a few tanks, you could have a painter on an elevator platform painting the rotating tank as he goes up and down. For automated application on a large number of tanks, automatic gun heads, mounted on reciprocators, can paint the rotating tank. The number of automatic guns depends on how fast you want to paint. You must do the math. About the paint, don’t change it until you have installed and debugged your new painting system. 

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