Thursday, 31 January 2008 17:00

SATA-DanAm's Treutel on Waterborne Necessities

Written by Autobody News staff
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 You've Got to Bring the Guns

A mini-interview with Steve Treutel, Director of Industrial Relations and Training for Dan-AM and SATA.

How are things in California?

I was just on a two week roadtrip working with A-class as well as B- to C-class shops and obviously there’s a difference at every level. I saw some huge changes that some shops are going to have to make and others that are having no problem whatsoever.

First of all we need to understand water is different and water dries by evaporation so temperature and air movement are the two key effects. We need special guns that will not corrode with water in the fluid passages and they need to clean up easily as well.

You need to have guns that have stainless steel fluid nozzles along with needles, and you need atomization that helps bring the water out of the surface in a slow enough way, without creating any pockets. This allows the pigments and the resins to flow to the right levels. We have to have equipment that is going to produce air movement inside that spray chamber to help bring the water out after it’s been sprayed.

Is heat or air more important?

I did some evening clinics with some smaller shops where they had cross-draft booths without air make-up units and typically in the California market those kinds of shops will have a booth just outside in the back.

The problem occurs in the evening when temperatures run in the 40s. For that kind of shop either they’re going have to make sure they’re painting during the daytime when it’s nice and dry with no humidity, or they’re going to require some heated air make-up units for early morning or late afternoon painting.

You need clean air for spraying and to blow dry the wet paint. If you’re going to take oil-laden air and blow that directly in wet paint you’re more than likely going to have a problem. You’ve got contamination over the surface. Then if you put a second coat on top of it, all of a sudden you start seeing a very small pinhole fisheye which hasn’t really shown up until putting the clear on. All of a sudden you see it and now it’s too late. Depending on how bad this is, they may have to sand, recolor, and clear it or they might just lightly nib and polish it and make that work.

Then I go into an “A” class shop where they have a good downdraft heated booth and good quantities of heated clean air, and all the filters. All their painters have to do is change their spraying air a little bit, add a new gun or two, and maybe supplement the dryers.

The expenses might run $12–$30,000 to outfit these booths, but even if you’ve got the Garmat-type fans working, you’ll still need some some kind of a portable unit because at some point you’re only doing a fender or a bumper. Obviously it costs more on an annual basis to run a full booth than to run the portable units when needed.

We sell the portable dry jet units and they work. As for costs, if you take a stand with two hand-held units on them the price runs anywhere from $500-$1,500. If you have stainless steel pieces in the more expensive ones — they will not corrode, they will not rust, no particles are going to blow into paint jobs.

I know that SATA in Germany is working with a company to design guns to spray nitrogen. I don’t see much nitrogen in use; most people use compressed air.

How are sales going?
It’s up to the painters to outfit themselves so they will likely buy couple of new tools to upgrade for waterborne, but that’s the guns now. Blowers and fans are shop purchases. So I think both are ending up with some expense. We’re seeing an increase in sales and equipment for waterborne use, there’s no question about that. When they see what equipment will help them increase production and get costs down, we’ll see those sales increase.

All of our topcoat guns are made for water, so you’re buying the same gun in North Carolina to spray solvent as you would buy in California to spray waterborne. It’s exactly the same gun with different adjustments. We made the change in our equipment design so whether you’re using solvent or water it’s not going to create a problem.  

If you get the stainless steel fluid nozzles and needles, you’ll have less wear on those parts regardless of the paint. Aluminum gun bodies need special coatings in the fluid contact areas. Don’t ever use aluminum cups for waterborne. Stainless is too heavy for cups, so you need a plastic cup or disposable cup. It’s better to go to disposable cups because of the waste cleanup. The cost of disposing of that waste water is more than solvent so it’s better to go disposable. The cost difference is amazing.

In Europe almost all the shops have changed over to disposable systems. All the mixing is done directly in the disposal. For waste disposal every area is a little different, but recyclers and hazardous waste haulers here charge differently between solvent and water. You still need a hazardous waste hauler because there’s still some solvent in there and you have pigmented resins that are hazardous.

Do painters like waterborne?
For the painters, it comes down to what environment they are in. If the painter has been training with the paint companies, painters are happy, but when I go to shops when their training hasn’t been there or there are poor conditions, they’re fighting.

I think at the end of the day training becomes the key issue, no matter what kind of shop you’re in, because it will make your life a lot easier whatever equipment you have. I’d say compared to six months ago, each and every one of the paint companies has increased their training and made it 100% better. It’s amazing to watch. They really know what they’re doing now.

If you’re going to “C” shops you’re training has to change a little bit because their environment is so much different. Typically the smaller shops haven’t had time to send their painters for much training so sometimes the basics are needed. 


At Dan-AM and SATA, we’ve had a lot of experience in Europe going from country to country and now going to California and Canada, we have the equipment in place. We looked hard at our own equipment in the early days of the transition and we made the changes and we haven’t stopped, we keep coming out with improved equipment and we’re quite proud of that.

Dan-AM has been working alongside SATA to offer extensive training programs for shop owners and painters. This is an ongoing priority at the company, which was founded in 1981 by Hans Jorgensen and his two sons Knud and Bent. Since 1999, Dan-Am has been SATA’s sole U.S. distributor.


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