Body Prep and Prime
New paint system and equipment technology, including prep stations, dust collection systems and infrared curing systems, has made sanding and priming easier and more productive.
Most equipment manufacturers have prep stations available in downdraft and semi-downdraft models. The downdraft models require a pit be built into the floor, but provide for the best curtain of air around the car. Most prep stations allow the operator to choose if the unit is re-circulating the shop air or exhausting the air from the shop to the outside.
To figure out how many prep stations you’ll need, multiply the number of vehicles you complete each day by the average number of hours needed to prep a typical job, then divide the number of prepping hours you get by the number of hours in the shift or shifts you have in a day.
Many jurisdictions have changed the codes concerning equipment used for painting and priming operations. The codes now require that a limited finishing workstation be used in areas where finishing operations will be performed. Most limited finishing workstations have prep station plenums attached to an air replacement unit. When spray operations take place, the operator must place the unit in the exhaust mode. The limited finishing workstation will then bring in outside air to replace the air being exhausted out of the building the same as a heated spray booth. Most jurisdictions limit the amount of spraying that can be performed in a limited finishing workstation. It is therefore very important you purchase the proper equipment for your use.
Prep stations mounted in the floor free space for other shop operations.
Keeping your shop clean helps profits. Controlling dirt at its source cuts cleanup time and the cost of re-dos. A central vacuum system is one of the best tools for keeping your shop clean. You can connect it directly to your air tools, like sanders and grinders, to keep the dust these tools produce from ever becoming a problem. Just remember to always use them with, not instead of prep stations. Central vacuum systems make sense for a well-designed prepping area. Outlets should be in every bay.
Dust collection systems can be portable or a centralized unit. A portable unit is moved to each vehicle, while a centralized unit has a collector in one area with collection drops located throughout the shop. Dust collection systems will help keep your facility clean, reducing cleaning costs. Another benefit is that the cars require less preparation work before going to the refinish department. Studies show a dust collection system can reduce sandpaper usage by 25%, because it makes the paper run cooler, reducing clogging.
Another tool in your battle with dirt is the ceiling-hung air purifier. These will collect and trap any dust and other airborne particles that enter your prep stations or vacuum system. Always keep in mind that producing clean paint jobs will be much easier if you plan for complete dirt and dust control throughout your shop before you ever build it.