The process of painting, can change in complexity depending on the demands. Commercial activities like painting walls for an office are usually a straightforward process of applying a coat or two of a designated color largely for aesthetic appeal.
But paint applied to automobiles can present many more challenges. In addition to the aesthetic needs of a pleasing color, there are technical considerations, like durability, reflectiveness and smooth surfaces that all need to be incorporated into a vehicle that is often constructed with a variety of different materials.
While painting an automobile can put you face-to-face with some challenging technical hurdles, there is one factor critical to successful, high-quality paint applications: consistent temperature control during the paint application process.
Temperature & Viscosity
Viscosity is the measurement of how thick your paint is. The thickness of your paint, whether it is a traditional solvent-based paint or a newer waterborne paint, still plays a major role in how the quality of a surface will look after the paint is applied.
The viscosity of the paint will change as its temperature fluctuates. And when dealing with paint, poorly controlled systems can change the temperature at several stages of the application process, which means your paint’s viscosity may swing back and forth before it reaches the nozzle and adheres to the surface.
Storage & Circulation
Depending on the type of storage, distribution and environmental control systems a facility has, painting on an industrial scale may introduce many temperature changes at different stages. The ambient temperature of the room where paint drums are stored will have an effect on the paint’s temperature and subsequent viscosity. And even if a manufacturer controls the atmosphere of the room to reflect the paint’s ideal temperature, that’s not enough to ensure that the paint will remain at its ideal temperature and viscosity once it reaches the point of application.
Once the paint reaches the point of application, it will may have traveled through a significant length of pipes, tubes, and pumps. While being transported through the process, it is not uncommon for paint to change in temperature from its starting point in the drum.
This especially true if there’s no temperature control on the pipes themselves, as factors like the season (hot summer temperatures vs. below-freezing winter temperatures), and even the height of the pipes can affect temperature to some degree. In addition, the pumps used to move the paint can alter a paint’s temperature and subsequent viscosity by anywhere from 10-15 degrees as well.
Ultimately, one of the biggest factors that determine viscosity of the paint and how it will look on its intended surface is the exact temperature at the moment of application, when the paint is leaving the nozzle.
At the application stage, the temperature affects many different factors. The viscosity of the paint will influence just how effective the atomization process is, or how fine, smooth and uniform the distribution of paint particles are when they are sprayed out. This influences everything from whether the texture of the paint is smooth, to whether the final product could experience orange peel issues, to just how appealing a glossy sheen is on the vehicle.
For the best, most consistent results in modern paint application, temperature control is crucial. If that can be achieved, it makes it much easier to maintain the desired viscosity of the paint for when it counts most: as it is being applied.
Controlling viscosity is the key to achieving high-quality and consistent finishes. Learn more about the tools and best practices of viscosity management by downloading your free copy of our Viscosity Control Buyer's Guide.