In paint spraying, often the first time you know something’s wrong with your compressed air equipment is when your carefully prepared surface ends up with that tell-tale orange peel effect. By which time, of course, it’s too late to do anything other than strip it all and start again.
The perfect paint finish requires a team effort. It’s not all down to the gun, the air compressor, the hose or connectors; it’s the result of each of them working effectively together.
So, to give yourself the best chance of a finish to be proud of, follow these steps:
1. Start with the gun
Your spray gun of choice will tell you the required air volume and operating pressure. Naturally, choosing an air compressor that lacks the capacity to deliver what the gun requires is setting yourself up to fail.
2. Choose your air compressor
A clean, dry, constant supply: that’s the magic formula for a great spray paint finish. So, compare the requirements of your gun with the capability of your air compressor.
The gun will require a certain operating pressure (given in psi) and air volume (given in cfm) and, theoretically at least, providing the capabilities of your air compressor outmatch the requirements of the gun, all should be well.
But things aren’t quite that simple. First, the compressor needs to deliver its air cleanly. Oil or water in the mix can damage the finish irrespective of compressor power, so filters need to be fitted and clean.
Second, an air compressor’s ability to deliver its stated pressure and volume can diminish depending on the accessories used.
3. Check the accessories
Too long a hose, or a damaged hose, can dramatically reduce the ability of your air compressor to deliver the required amount of air to the gun at the right pressure. The same is true of the fittings used to connect the hose to gun and air compressor.
Pressure loss can vary greatly, from making minimal difference, to being sufficient to drop the psi below the levels required by the gun.
An air regulator can help keep things constant (although it can also contribute to pressure drops) so to find the right combination of gun, hose, fittings and air compressor for your application, you’re best seeking expert advice.
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