Understanding the Technology Behind HVLP Electric Spray Guns

Jul 9, 2024 | Blog Post | 0 comments

When it comes to automotive and custom painting, achieving a professional finish is essential. One of the key components to this is using the right spray gun. High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) electric spray guns offer a cost-effective and efficient solution without the need for an expensive compressor setup. As experts in the field of HVLP electric spray gun technology, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of how these systems work and why they are a superior choice for both beginners and professionals in the automotive and custom painting industry. 

The Basics of HVLP Technology 

HVLP spray guns operate by using a high volume of air at a low pressure to atomize and spray the paint. This technology differs significantly from traditional compressed air spray guns, which utilize high pressure to achieve the same result. The core components of an HVLP system includes a turbine unit, an air hose, and the spray gun itself. 

Turbine Unit: The turbine generates over 65 CFM of  air volume to atomize the paint. Unlike compressors that store and release compressed air, the turbine produces a continuous airflow, ensuring a consistent spray pattern.  As a byproduct of the high-speed motor the turbine generates frictional heat, which eliminates moisture in the air and always delivers clean, warm, dry air. 

Air Hose: The hose connects the turbine unit to the spray gun, delivering the air required for atomization.  Turbine hoses need to be larger diameters to allow the air to travel from the turbine to the spray gun without reducing the air volume.  Most turbine manufactures use at least a 5/8” hose diameter to accommodate the large volume of air produced by the turbine. 

Spray Gun: The gun mixes the air and paint, releasing it through the nozzle in a fine mist, which allows for a smooth and even application. Unlike traditional HVLP spray guns that run on compressed air, the turbine spray gun has much larger passageways to allow free flowing air volume.   

How HVLP Electric Spray Guns Work 

HVLP electric spray systems are designed to deliver a superior finish by utilizing advanced technology to control the spray pattern, pressure, and volume of paint applied. Here is a closer look at the process: 

Air Generation: The electric turbine generates a high volume of air (65+ CFM) at a low pressure, typically around 5 – 11.5 PSI of sealed air pressure. This is significantly lower than the 20 – 50 PSI used by conventional spray guns. 

Air and Paint Mixing: The large diameter air hose delivers air to the spray gun. Pulling the trigger mixes paint from the cup or reservoir with the air stream inside the gun. The turbine spray gun atomizes the paint using a combination of air volume and pressure.  Due to the high volume of air, the operator can use the turbine gun to apply paint much more efficiently. 

Atomization: The mixture of air and paint is forced through the nozzle, breaking the paint into fine particles. This process, known as atomization, is critical for achieving a smooth finish. 

Application: The fine mist of paint is then applied to the surface. The low pressure minimizes overspray and bounce-back, ensuring more paint lands on the target surface, which is both economical and environmentally friendly.  This is why turbine systems have been proven to be greater than 80% efficient, making them the most efficient way to spray automotive paint. 

Differences Between HVLP and Compressed Air Spray Guns 

The primary differences between HVLP electric spray guns and traditional compressed air spray guns lie in the method of air delivery and the resultant impact on the painting process. 

Air Pressure and Volume: HVLP systems use low pressure and high volume (5-11.5 PSI, 65+ CFM), whereas compressed air guns use high pressure and low volume 20-50 PSI, under 30 CFM). This fundamental difference affects the efficiency and quality of the paint application. 

Overspray and Waste: HVLP systems produce less overspray, reducing paint waste and environmental impact. Compressed air systems tend to have higher overspray, leading to more significant paint waste and cleanup.  Apollo Sprayers had independent laboratory tests performed in the early 1980’s to prove that turbine systems are more than 80% transfer efficient, which means they waste less than 20% of the material.  Compared to HVLP guns that run on compressed air, which are at best 65% transfer efficient.  This results in documented savings in paint that is greater than 30%! 

Equipment and Setup: HVLP systems are more compact and portable. Plug into a 120-volt outlet and spray all day with HVLP Electric technology and never run out of air. They eliminate the need for bulky compressors and extensive dryer and filter setups, making them ideal for smaller workshops and mobile operations, eliminating water and oil contamination from the air source.  Tired of rework due to dirty air, then the turbine system is for you. 

Finish Quality: The consistent airflow of HVLP systems results in a more even and smooth finish, reducing the likelihood of imperfections and ensuring a professional-grade result.  Never worry about dirty air and all the time you spend on rework.  With the turbine system not only will you get a contaminate free finish, but it will lay down your material nice and smooth also. 

Advantages of HVLP Electric Spray Guns 

HVLP electric spray guns offer several advantages that make them an excellent choice for automotive and custom painting projects: 

Cost-Effective: With no need for a compressor, HVLP systems reduce the initial investment, utility costs and ongoing maintenance costs associated with compressed air systems.  

Portability: The compact and lightweight design of HVLP systems allows for easy transport and use in various locations.  They can even be run from a 2000-watt generator or battery pack for mobile operation. 

Environmental Impact: Reducing overspray wastes less paint, lowers VOC emissions, and makes the operation more environmentally friendly.

Ease of Use: HVLP systems are user-friendly, with straightforward setup and operation, making them accessible to both novices and experienced painters. They also allow for easier application and better coverage of most paints. 

Consistent Quality: The technology behind HVLP systems ensures a consistent, high-quality finish, minimizing the risk of runs, drips, and uneven coverage. 

Practical Applications in Automotive and Custom Painting 

HVLP electric spray guns excel in automotive and custom painting due to their precision and control. Here is how to use them in practice:

Automotive Painting: HVLP systems are ideal for applying base coats, clear coats, and other automotive finishes. The controlled spray pattern ensures a smooth, even application, crucial for achieving a showroom-quality finish. 

Custom Painting: For custom paint jobs, such as detailing and artwork on cars, motorcycles, and other objects, the fine control offered by HVLP spray guns allows for intricate designs and consistent coverage. 

Small Repair Jobs: HVLP systems are perfect for small repair jobs and touch-ups, where precision and minimal overspray are essential. 

Tips for Using HVLP Electric Spray Guns 

To get the best results from your HVLP electric spray gun, consider the following tips: 

Proper Setup: Ensure all components are correctly assembled and that the turbine, hose, and gun are properly connected.  Make sure you have the proper needle, nozzle and air cap installed in the spray gun for the paint you are going to spray.  Typically, turbine guns will require two size nozzles smaller than compressed air HVLP spray guns. 

Surface Preparation: Thoroughly clean and prepare the surface to be painted. Any dust, grease, or imperfections can affect the final finish.  Surface preparation is key to getting a good finish with any system. 

Correct Paint Viscosity: Adjust the paint viscosity as needed. HVLP systems work best with paints that are properly thinned to the recommended consistency.  Always make sure you use a slower reducer when possible. 

Test Spray: Always perform a test spray on a piece of cardboard or scrap material to check the spray pattern and adjust the settings accordingly.  This is where you need to make sure that your atomization has all the same particle size.  If not, adjust until you achieve even particle atomization. 

Steady Movement: Maintain a steady, even movement of the spray gun, keeping it perpendicular to the surface to avoid runs and uneven coverage. Make sure you overlap your passes by at least 75% for clear and about 50% for base. 

Cleaning and Maintenance: Regularly clean and maintain your HVLP system to ensure consistent performance and longevity.  Clean turbine spray guns the same way as compressed air spray guns. The larger air passages make them easier to clean because they lack the small, tiny holes found in traditional spray guns.

HVLP electric spray guns represent a significant advancement in painting technology, offering a superior alternative to traditional compressed air spray guns. By using low pressure and high volume, these systems provide a cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and user-friendly solution for achieving professional-quality finishes in automotive and custom painting. 

For anyone looking to get into automotive or custom painting without the expense and complexity of a compressor setup, HVLP electric spray systems are the ideal choice. Embrace the technology and elevate your painting projects to the next level with the precision and efficiency of HVLP electric spray guns. 

By signing up, you'll receive exclusive pro tips, news and other subscribe-worthy incentives.