We hear this a lot, “Oh, you’re the paint heater company.” We tend to cringe because what we do is quite a bit different than traditional paint heaters.
Let me explain…
When we think of paint heaters, we think of a cartridge heater with an adjustable thermostat. Paint heaters can provide multiple benefits. Among those are:
• Lower operating air and fluid pressures resulting in reduced component wear.
• Reduced VOC use/emissions.
• Improvement of select quality defects.
There are times where the traditional paint heater is the right option. There are however times where you could benefit from something else. That something else is where we come in. We focus on Point-of-Application Temperature Control.
So, what’s the difference?
The first, and most obvious, is that we provide heating and cooling. Paints, sealers, adhesives, and other coatings each have an optimum dispense temperature. Frequently that temperature is in the range of what we would consider room temperature. When operating in a facility where the temperature can get hot, paint heaters aren’t going to help. When you find your optimum dispense temperature, you want to keep it there. Sometimes that means heating and sometimes that means cooling. Heat alone cannot guarantee that you will be at your optimum. Temperature Control can.
The second, and probably most important, is that we focus on point-of-application, (also referred to as point-of-use). Paint heaters heat the material at some point along the dispense path. But what happens after your coating leaves the paint heater? It is exposed to plant ambient temperature and changing conditions. Insulation helps, but it only slows the heat loss, it doesn’t prevent it entirely. Point-of-Application Temperature Control ensures that your material temperature, and ultimately material viscosity, will remain consistent where you need it most – at the point-of-application, on each and every dispense.
Probably the biggest disadvantage to paint heaters is that they are relatively small and therefore have little surface area available to transfer heat. Because there is a smaller surface area, the paint heater must get hotter to reach the desired temperature in the paint than would be required in a modern Temperature Control system. This additional heat can actually damage the material that you are applying. This can lead to premature failure – not just of your material, but of the heater itself.
So how does that work?
When exposed to the hot surfaces inside the paint heater, the material “bakes” onto it. This creates a layer of insulation between the fluid and the heater surface, so to get the outlet to the proper temperature, the heater applies more heat. This bakes another layer onto the surface. This process repeats itself until the baked fluid completely plugs the heater passages. Your options are limited – either completely rebuild the heater with a new core, (if your heater is so designed), or replace the heater entirely.
Gently bringing the material to temperature while not disturbing the material path or creating hot spots that can damage the material is how our Temperature Control systems work. There are other benefits to Temperature Control, but these are the big three:
- Temperature Control provides the option of cooling when you need it. And you’ll need it if you are targeting your optimal dispense viscosity.
- Temperature Control provides point-of-application control. The most important material temperature is the temperature when it hits the part.
- Temperature Control is easy on your material. Paint, sealer, adhesive; it’s all expensive. Avoid damaging it.
So, are you making a mistake by using paint heaters? Not necessarily. They are the right choice for a number of dispensing applications. Pay attention to your changing environment and try to correlate those changes with quality defects, operator adjustments and equipment maintenance. If you are seeing a correlation, and it’s important to you, it may make sense to look at a more modern version of Temperature Control. At Saint Clair Systems, we’re not the “paint heater” company, we’re the Temperature Control Company.
It’s an important distinction.