Painting and Curing
Many collision shop managers and owners feel the paint department is their largest bottleneck. Careful consideration should be given to the equipment purchased for your paint department. Most of the equipment, paint booths, prep stations and limited finishing workstations are high-ticket items. Due to the installation requirements of paint shop equipment, it is expensive and difficult to move. You should give careful consideration as to the right equipment and location of this equipment to maximize productivity.
Combination spray/cure booths provide a safe working environment and make it easier to productively produce high-quality paint jobs. Painting and curing create fumes that must be collected and removed from your shop. A properly-designed spray booth provides a safe amount of air movement to reduce the potential for dangerous fumes to collect.
Use of high-efficiency filters removes solid paint particles from re-circulated and exhausted air. Again, the equipment you choose should be approved by an independent test agency.
Global Finishing Solutions spray booths and curing ovens meet all accepted rules for safety and performance. A more complete discussion of spray booths comes later. For now, here’s a list of items to consider when choosing a spray booth:
- The amount of space a spray booth will take up.
- What production levels a spray booth will have to meet.
- Heating / utility requirements for the spray booth.
- The type of airflow you want — downdraft or semi-downdraft, for example.
Most shops now have paint mixing machines to custom mix the required material for each vehicle. This practice reduces cost, and provides for more accurate paint matches. In most cases, to safely store and dispense these materials requires a paint mix room. The mix room can be connected directly to your spray booth using a covered walkway, or “vestibule”, between the booth door and the mix room, but this isn’t required. Most manufacturers provide paint mix rooms with color-corrected lighting and exhaust systems. Global Finishing Solutions mix rooms provide a downward flow of filtered air across the whole room. This air is exhausted outside since it will contain solvent vapors. Some manufacturers have engineered the required spill containment into their design, while others require you to pour a concrete curb to provide the spill containment. Most jurisdictions have specific codes on paint mix rooms, which may include:
- The amount of paint that can be stored in the mix room (this will vary on size and the proximity of the paint mix room door to the booth door).
- The amount of air exhausted from the paint mix room.
- Explosion-proof electric fixtures (if located inside the paint mix room).
- The maximum dimensions of the paint mix room.
A well-planned mix room and a good paint mixer make paint jobs go faster by cutting down the re-spraying needed to get a color match. Some larger shops have paint mixing specialists who prepare all the paint for each painter. These specialists obviously have to have a good eye for color. Using one may be right for you if your production is high enough. Just remember, your painter can’t be spraying cars while he’s mixing and color matching.
Some high production collision shops are using special purpose spray booths for cutting in new and repaired parts. This frees up the main spray booth for painting assembled vehicles. The use of a specialty booth can provide a large production increase for a fairly small investment. There will be more on special purpose booths later.
Re-Assembly and Detailing
This may be the last major work station in your shop, but the cool down / re-assembly and detailing area is very important to your overall quality, which is what your customers judge your work on. Your customers can’t see the body straightening you did, and they don’t know how to judge your prep and painting work. But there are three things they can and do see: the paint job, the fit of the re-assembled parts, and the level of detailing. So this area should always be kept clean, have the right amount of color-corrected lighting and be outfitted with the proper utilities and tools.