Using Experts to Design a Finishing System
When your facility is ready to design a finishing system, Sames Kremlin’s Steve Romer recommends bringing in outside experts to help.
Q: When should I contact an outside finishing expert to help design a system?
A: Most manufactures have engineers on staff to design and develop their products and components. They are well-trained and have designed many quality products. But when it comes to finishing those products, coatings change almost daily. What was good last year might be out of date today. I believe finishing experts should be a part of the development and ongoing improvement group for every manufactured component.
Finishing experts need to be a part of the team. The best way to look at the process of finishing a product is as a triangle. The three sides together form a very strong group: the manufacturer, the coating supplier (either powder or liquid) and the coating application group. If you remove one side of the triangle, the strength of the overal group is dramatically reduced, and the process can collapse.
As finishing experts, we look at factors including volatile organic compound emissions, the substrate, the required environment for the finished product and how changes can enhance the product being finished. Just because a product has been finished one way for a long time does not mean that is the best way. The experts looks at real-world requirements and provide solutions for the needed process.
Here are a few examples of applications in which finishing experts can help:
Fiberglass finishing. We all know that fiberglass is not conductive, and electrostatic finishing methods can’t be used on this substrate. Many existing installations have multiple finishing stations, as there are normally four or more sides to the parts, resulting in lineal lines for longer parts. But if the fiberglass parts are cut to length before painting (which is a good idea, as it allows the cut ends to be finished in the same color), lineal finishing systems are a poor way to process them. Instead, the parts can be hung from an overhead monorail conveyor, which allows a variety of part lengths to be finished. A “hook expert” can help easily design hangers that will allow for complete finishing.
Since fiberglass parts are not conductive, non-electrostatic guns will result in a lot of touch-up requirements, which drive up the cost and produce varying quality issues. Applying a conductive coating to the parts before the finishing process allows use of electrostatics, which in turn allows for wrap and dramatically reduces paint use and touch-up. So, by bringing to the table experts, in this case hook experts, conductivity manufacturers and the finishing expert, costs can be dramatically reduced, finish quality dramatically improved and output increased.
Wood finishing. Normally, wood components can be finished on a flat line, but again, many parts, like windows components, are cut to length before finishing. In fact, it is very important that products like wood windows and doors be cut to length before finishing, because if they are not, the cut ends will have exposed end grain that can and will draw in moisture.
The hook expert can provide a hanger hook system for conveying the parts on an overhead monorail conveyor. Again, the parts might not be conductive, so non-electrostatic systems typically must be used, and with four-sided component parts, non-electrostatic finishing can result in poor transfer rates. The solution is to apply a conductive coating (again, consulting with an outside finishing expert) to make the parts conductive so that electrostatics can be used to provide much better coverage and greatly reduce coating consumption.
I have only discussed two different substrates in this article, but in both cases you can see how using outside experts will help a manufacturer easily address and resolve potential finishing problems, improve quality, improve productivity and reduce the dependence on manual touch-up work. The use of these outside finishing experts can save a lot of money and results in a very strong finishing triangle.
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