2 Essential measuring tools in the paint industry

Today we are going to analyze in detail two essential measuring tools in the paint industry. Do you know which ones they are? Don't worry, because if you are interested in getting to know them, we will tell you interesting things about them below.

Until very recently, practically the only objective that was conscientiously pursued after refinishing any surface was to achieve a good topcoat that would contribute to customer satisfaction. However, times are changing, and so are the needs within the sector, to such an extent that nowadays it is just as important to obtain a quality topcoat as it is to make the repair efficient and cost-effective.

Therefore, faced with this situation, there is no other possibility than to optimize the profitability of any paint job, so today we are going to analyze in detail two essential measuring tools in the paint industry. Do you know which ones they are? Don’t worry, because if you are interested in getting to know them, we will tell you interesting things about them below. Let’s go!

Essential measuring tool #1: micron gauge

The first essential measuring tool we would like to highlight is the micron gauge. This is a high-precision measuring tool capable of determining the thickness of the coats of paint applied on a given support in order to assess the quality of the repair and/or seek new ways to make repairs profitable, something so important today to counteract the negative effects of various economic and business factors that have been occurring for some years and that are reducing the profit margins of companies.

Currently, there are two thickness gauges, one that reads when the paint is wet, i.e., when the paint is soft, and another that reads when the coating is dry , once it has cured. Of the two options, the wet micrometer is the least known. This is a fully manual operating tool, eliminating any risk of poor reading due to a malfunction of its internal mechanism.

As an example, the gauge supplied by Disolac consists of a hexagonal panel, easily manipulated, which has carved on each of its sides a series of grooves placed at a specific measurement, each of which corresponds to different paint thicknesses. The tool ensures its correct positioning on the support thanks to the perfect geometry of each of the vertices that form the hexagonal panel. We can see the micron gauge indicated in the following image:

Herramienta medida: Medidor espesor manual
Measuring tool: micron gauge

The use of this manual thickness gauge is very simple and consists of the following steps:

  • Consult the technical data sheet of the coating used to know the theoretical thickness of the coat of paint that can be obtained after application.
  • Choose the side of the meter that contains the theoretical value seen in the technical data sheet of the coating.
  • Tilt the meter so that the left vertex of the selected side is perpendicular to the support.
  • Bring the meter close to the test surface until its left vertex touches the support.
  • Tilt the meter little by little until the right vertex of the chosen side touches the support. At this point, the two vertices of the selected side are touching the substrate, so the coat of paint permeates the remaining grooves at a level equal to or less than the thickness of the coat of paint.
  • Carefully remove the meter following the same process as for placement but in reverse.
  • Turn the gauge over to interpret the thickness of the existing coat of paint, so that the edge of the last groove impregnated with paint is the one that determines the thickness of paint applied.

Compare the reading obtained with the manufacturer’s reference value, in order to make the necessary changes or adjustments to obtain the desired application values.

On the other hand, the electronic micrometer is also available on the market. This variant allows the measurement of the paint layer without generating any damage, as long as the coat of paint is completely dry.

In these tools, the measurement is performed by ultrasound through an ultrasonic probe that generates and sends a series of sound waves and pulses that pass through the coatings (paints, putties, etc.) of a surface until they reach the base substrate. The software included in the device then precisely measures the time it took for the impulse to pass through all the coatings present and, based on this, determines the existing thickness, returning a specific value on the gauge display. The presence of this technology inside the tool makes it more susceptible to damage and incorrect readings.

When using this tool, it is necessary to take into account the need for the coat of paint to be dry, as well as to carry out the corresponding calibration according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Finally, the following are specific examples of jobs where the use of this tool is essential:

  • In coating or vehicle factories, knowing this information is crucial to guarantee the quality offered without reducing profitability.
  • In the painting industry where painting systems standardized by ISO norms, such as ISO 12944, or similar, are applied.
  • In paint shops, the micron gauge allows a shop manager to know the repair carried out to see if the total thickness of the coatings is within the accepted standards.

In the expert sector, this tool is used to detect inadequate repairs that do not conform to the stipulated appraisal, especially when deformations have been assessed on metallic or synthetic elements where forming and subsequent caulking are required.

Essential measuring tool #2: mixing and measurement stick

The mixing and measurement stick is the other essential tool that we would like to highlight. This is one of the most widely used systems in the industrial painting sector for mixing hardenered and/or diluted paints. The most commonly used variants are the mixing ruler and the graduated cup. Both systems are printed with different ratios or scales valid for the most common mixing ratios (2:1, 3:1, 4:1, 5:1, etc.). This avoids the need for any calculations and simplifies the mixing process thanks to the visual and intuitive nature of the process.

Herramienta medida: Regla mezcla
Mixing and measurement stick

The mixing and measurement stick is the other essential tool that we would like to highlight. This is one of the most widely used systems in the industrial painting sector for mixing hardenered and/or diluted paints. The most commonly used variants are the mixing ruler and the graduated cup. Both systems are printed with different ratios or scales valid for the most common mixing ratios (2:1, 3:1, 4:1, 5:1, etc.). This avoids the need for any calculations and simplifies the mixing process thanks to the visual and intuitive nature of the process.

The representation of the mixing proportions is made by means of a ladder system where the first step is always the product (A), the second the hardener (B) and the third the diluent (C), which is sometimes represented as a percentage of the total (5%, 10%, etc.).

Thanks to this measuring tool, the operator is able to accurately mix the paint quickly and easily, which translates into important benefits such as these:

  • The risk of interfering with the physical properties of the paint in terms of drying speed, viscosity, resulting coat of paint, etc.is eliminated , circumstances which, if they occur, make the application more difficult, exponentially increase the risk of paint defects and affect the quality of the refinishing.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Reduced margin of error and, therefore, less product waste.
  • Reduction of measuring tools, thanks to the inclusion of different scales in the same tool.

Finally, to perform the mixing correctly with a mixing and measurement stick, it is essential to follow these steps:

  • Select the mixing and measurement stick appropriate to the mixing ratio of the paint to be mixed.
  • Make sure that the tool is completely clean, and the scale is perfectly visible.
  • In the case of the mixing ruler, introduce and rest it on a jar with a completely flat bottom and perfectly straight sides, i.e., the container does not have a taper.
  • Add the product up to the line marking the first step.
  • Add the hardener until it reaches the line that establishes the second step.
  • When necessary, add the diluent up to the corresponding line of the third step.
  • Stir to homogenize the mixture.

Accurate measurement = control over the application

As we have seen throughout the article, carrying out an accurate measurement process allows us to obtain very interesting benefits that go beyond achieving a quality topcoat at first glance. In this sense, the micron gauge and the mixing and measurement stick are essential tools that help to achieve optimum quality, but also allow us to apply precise control over the work process carried out. So if you still don’t use them in your daily life, don’t hesitate to start doing it!

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