Sep 112012

The use of waterborne paints was mandated in Europe and Canada nearly two decades ago.  In the early 1990s, California became the first US state to enact legislation to limit the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and other potentially hazardous materials from paint, forcing California businesses to adopt the use of waterborne paint.  As more and more US states adopt regulations similar to California, paint manufacturers have worked to improvement their waterborne products along with end-user training and support.  These factors are contributing to the accelerating adoption rate of waterborne paints by the collision repair industry.  Moreover, as paint manufacturer promote waterborne paint, the cost of also supporting solvent based paints will become prohibitive, leading other industries, such as woodworking, to also begin using waterborne-based paint products.

Waterborne paint can be quickly contaminated with oil, water and small dirt particles, necessitating a review of the shop equipment and shop environment.  Over and over, the single most important factor when using waterborne paint is air quality and air movement.  Why?  Because when waterborne paint dries, a layer of water vapor / humidity occurs just above the refinished surface.  Air flowing across the painted surface will break-up this vaporous layer both increasing the time to cure as well as improving the overall quality of the finish.

Air quality and air movement can be improved in several ways:

  1. The use of handheld blowers and other drying systems.
  2. Inspecting piping and traps to eliminate the potential for oil in the compressed air system.
  3. Installing refrigerated drying units to prevent water condensation which carries dirt particles.
  4. Implementing a routine equipment maintenance / cleaning schedule.
  5. Use of a multi-stage filter system.

At we offer a range of pre-filters and final filters to create the perfect multi-stage filtration system when using and/or converting to waterborne paints.  All of our filters are designed and manufactured to the highest of quality standards and have been used for years in waterborne paint environments.

So when you think waterborne paint, think filters and when you think filters, think

 Posted by at 11:48 AM

FAQs in the Waterborne Conversion Process

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Sep 102012

Volatile organic compounds (VOC) in paint have been recognized as bad for the environment; consequently, there is a movement to reduce VOCs and this will affect practically everyone who paints – waterborne.

The move to less toxic, water-based finishes is already well under way.  Waterborne paints are currently in extensive use in Europe and Canada, and many OEMs now use water-based paints.  A number of states around the country have enacted regulations that are gradually forcing shops to lower VOC emissions.

The consensus is that the transition to water­ borne finish products may not be as difficult or as costly as some first supposed.  Below are answers to several of the most asked questions regarding the conversion to waterborne.

Am I faced with a large equipment investment by switching to water?

Not necessarily.  You can switch to waterborne with no equipment changes and still get good performance.  However, to truly enjoy the production benefits that water can provide, we recommend investigating air movement equipment, especially in humid climates.  You should also consider a waterborne spray gun, a new waterborne gun washer, and perhaps an air filtration system if your current one is not performing well.

Will I need a “special” spray gun?

Spray gun manufacturers have been working diligently to offer painters a gun that not only atomizes waterborne paint properly, but also has internal parts that will not degrade or rust.  The spray gun you use now may work as is, or you may have to buy the appropriate needle/nozzle/air cap setup, or you may want to buy a new gun.

We strongly suggest using separate spray guns for waterborne coatings in order to avoid contamination and material clotting.  If water and solvent borne base coats are used in the same spray equipment this could cause equipment damage, contamination, and costly redoes.

In addition to the waterborne spray guns, we recommend the use of a disposable cup system.  Disposable cups make paint clean up easy and cost effective.  It also expedites color change, reduces time and material clean up and is safe from outside contamination.

What about my air supply? Will I need to make changes?

The use of waterborne basecoats definitely requires new air treatment tools.  When spraying waterborne paint it is required that the air is free of oil vapor and dirt.  Even the slightest amount of contamination can cause coating imperfections.  It is highly suggested that your shop is properly piped and has an adequate air filtration system.  Check compressor ratings to ensure it can meet the air supply demands of the equipment used in a shop – including dryers, filters, and spray guns.

How will the regional climate impact waterborne? What if I work in an area with large temperature changes and/or high humidity?

When working with water-based products it is extremely important to pay attention to proper climate control, especially in locations that have cold winters or exceptionally hot summers.

Two key components involved in working with waterborne paints are temperature and humidity.  Neither of these factors should be taken lightly.  Low temperatures can cause your product to freeze.  The optimal temperature that you should store your waterborne paints should be above 35° F.  If the temperature falls lower you could risk damaging your entire supply.  If your paint has experienced a shift in its color or if it has started to gel, then you are going to need to re-evaluate how you’re storing it.

Humidity plays a huge part in how quickly paint dries.  If there is too little humidity, then the paint will dry too quickly causing you to lose some of your luster.  Too high and some moisture will get caught beneath the clear coating, which will eventually cause “popping” and “blushing.”

Will I need to change my prepping and paint mixing areas?

The answer to this question is simply, “How sound are your existing principals?” If you were very focused on maintaining a clean operating environment, then any changes will be minimal.  If instead, you were a bit lax, then the adoption of waterborne paints will require changes.

Simply tips include (i) washing the vehicle thoroughly before work begins, (ii) keeping the floors and surrounding areas clean and dust-free, (iii) changing paint booth filters regularly, (iv) disposing of all used rags and other waste immediately, (v) not storing jackets, shirts, or other sources of fibers in the mix room, (vi) keeping paint canisters sealed and stored properly, and (vii) ensuring that the airflow system is working at all times.  Best practices call for developing a daily cleaning.

Will I need to use waterborne undercoats and clearcoats?

No.  Waterborne basecoat performs best when used with solvent-borne urethane undercoats and clears.

Are all waterborne basecoat products are the same?

All waterborne systems vary from each paint manufacturing company.  A huge factor is the shelf life and the stability of the product.  Blendability and tape times can differ as can the ability of temperature to affect the product.  All waterborne systems are made up of acrylic and polyester resins, with each paint manufacturer using different proportions and different combinations of the two.

 Posted by at 10:11 AM