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31. July 2018 09:16

BY: Bill Boxer, Modern Finishing Products, Inc.

Over the past few months we’ve explored HVLP from a few different perspectives. We started with an overview of HVLP technology, explored HVLP turbine/turbospray systems and then HVLP spray guns with compressed air.

Today I’d like to touch upon the growth of HVLP technology through its history. You may ask “why is this important?” As with any technology times change and product grows. We tend to remember early times and early product entries but often neglect to see what’s new and how technology rapidly changes offering more options and possibilities to spray finishing technicians.

So, what’s changed with HVLP? First we had the discover period. This takes us back to the 1960’s and earlier when it was discovered that it was possible to atomize a low viscosity fluid with a high velocity or volume of air as produced by the exhaust outlet on a common household vacuum. In fact, early use of the technology had nothing to do with spray finishing at all but rather some household applications requiring misted fluids.

This atomizing concept led a few companies in Europe to further explore the possibilities of using a high volume of air to atomize actual products used to finish wood and metal. Early product entries were looked at skeptically even with good results using low viscosity coatings. As with anything new, acceptance was not easily forthcoming. There was yet to be concerns about environmental pollution, greater efficiency in the workplace along with product and cost savings given the visible reduced overspray and higher retention of product on the workpiece.

Historically there has always been a fear of change and learning new products and concepts. Turbospray technology, as it was known through the 60’s and 70’s continued to limp along finding its way to the USA in the early 1970’s and finally a serious attempt in the late 1970’s to establish the technology as a serious and viable product as an option or alternative to conventional compressed air spray finishing.

As with any product, a person of vision, belief in the product and the ability to communicate with the consumer finally brought turbospray technology to the forefront. It is generally recognized in the industry that this was a company known as Apollo Sprayers International, Inc, and its founder John B. Darroch. It was John B. Darroch who persevered and brought the technology to South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) as a product that had the ability to reduce VOC emissions into the environment through a dramatically more efficient way to atomize a range of finishes and coatings. In fact Darroch had laboratory testing completed proving the high transfer efficiency of turbospray technology as opposed to conventional compressed air spray finishing. This is what led to Turbospray becoming HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) as named by SCAQMD along with developing a series of codes requiring various workplace applications to be compliant with the new rules.

Now into the 1980’s HVLP becomes a buzz word in the finishing world. While certainly not replacing conventional methods and other finishing technologies, HVLP begins its serious entry into the workplace. Of course given this early publicity you now start to have a few additional manufacturers enter the marketplace along with established spray gun manufacturers like Binks and DeVilbiss looking at ways to create spray guns that would comply with the new HVLP codes as opposed to the alternative independent turbospray systems that did not utilize compressed air but rather the blower type motor to produce the high air volume/low pressure as originally discovered back in the 1960’s.

The actual growth through the 80’s and 90’s brought to the market better designed and performing spray guns for both the HVLP turbine/turbospray systems as well as HVLP spray guns for compressed air. At the same time, new blower motor technology improved with the demand for HVLP with more powerful motors that increased nozzle pressure allowing higher viscosities to be applied.

Growth continued into and through the new century with more innovation further closing the gap between other technologies while offering the many benefits offered by the HVLP technologies discussed in previous articles.

If your personal history goes back to the 1980’s and memories of some performance limitations and you dismissed HVLP as not relevant for an application you may have desired, let me encourage you to look again and see the performance growth along with precision spray guns that have much to offer not only the wood and woodworking industries but other high performance finishing applications as well.

 Learn more about this subject during Bill's session "HVLP Turbospray Technology, Past-Present-Future" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.




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