Should I Invest in a Prep Station?

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Feb 252013

You’ve probably heard that prep stations are essential.  Of course those comments invariably come from  individuals already using a prep station (or those individuals looking to sell a prep station).  So how do you objectively determine if a prep station is right for you?

The single most important consideration is how busy are you?  If your main paint booth is backed-up, then a prep station is an investment well worth making.  Prep stations allow for small paint jobs to be done outside of your main paint booth, freeing-up your main paint booth for those larger, more profitable projects.  Additionally, a prep station also provides an environment where sanding and other similar activities can be undertaken such that the resulting particles are filtered out of the shop environment.  End result — you’re trapping those paint / finish damaging particles before they are let loose into the work environment.  And a cleaner work environment lessens costly rework.  Nothing is more costly than tying up your main paint booth with non value-creating activities like rework.

For those concerned with cost, a wall-unit prep station is ideal.  Air is moved by a powerful fan through through first stage filters positioned in the front  and lower forward sections of the prep station.  A second set of filters is then placed after the first set of filters to prevent particles from reaching the mechanical  components (i.e., the fan).  This second set of filters is critical to extend the life of the fan as well as reduce time-consuming maintenance / cleaning.

While a basic wall-unit prep station is good, for a modest additional investment a prep station can add an overhead devise known as a plenum — almost creating an open down draft paint booth.  The plenum directs air from above through ceiling filters down into the work area.  Venting can occur either at one end of the prep station (semi downdraft configuration) or through a pit in the floor (downdraft configuration).  Ideally, the source of air should be from outside the work environment to lessen contamination, but at a minimum, the air should be prefiltered prior to passing through the plenum.

Regardless of the prep station design chosen, we here at recommend the addition of floor to ceiling curtains.  Curtains ensure the sanding and/or paint overspray remains in a confined area.  Moreover, where painting is involved, curtains help comply with certain regulation that require painting activities to be conducted in an enclosed area.

A prep station is frequently a worthwhile investment, but each individual owner / operator must consider their specific needs before making the investment.

 Posted by at 4:47 PM