Tips for cleaning the application spray-gun

Discover how to effectively clean the application spray-gun: a task that, despite not being very flashy, is of great importance to avoid complications during paint application.

In the Crom Campus blog, we usually talk about how to apply products or relevant aspects related to work processes. However, in the day-to-day life of the paint shop there are other tasks that, although not as showy, are of great importance to avoid complications during paint application. We are talking about the cleaning of the application gun, a task that could well define the cleanliness of the operator who normally uses it.

And, even if we assume that any professional in the workshop knows how to clean an application gun, different questions then arise, such as: Does everyone know how to do it effectively? Is an application spray-gun always cleaned in the same way? What risks does the operator take by not cleaning the application gun effectively?

So if you are interested in finding out the answers to these questions, we answer them for you in detail below.

Why is it important to give it a good cleaning?

From a general and purely practical point of view, the importance of the correct cleaning of the application gun is given by the impact that this equipment has on the paint application process, the final finish of the job and productivity. In this sense, the impact will always be positive when the application gun has been properly cleaned and, particularly negative, when it has not.

In order to understand this particular incidence, it is enough to remember that the reason for using spray-guns for the application of paints is the need to use a painting equipment capable of projecting such coatings in such fine drops that, once deposited on the surface, they form a perfectly even coating of product, free of any type of visual anomaly. This is why any ineffective cleaning of the spray-gun significantly affects the very fine “operation” of this equipment.

With this, effective cleaning of the spray-gun prevents dirt from accumulating on the nozzle and fluid nozzle, improving the final finish and increasing productivity.

Proceso limpieza pistola aplicación
Cleaning process of the application spray-gun

What are the consequences of poor cleaning?

As we have pointed out in the previous section, the main consequences of poor cleaning of the application spray-gun are the decrease in the quality of the finished job and the loss of productivity. These two consequences translated into the practical language of the workshop imply the appearance of the following problems:

  • Difficulties in application due to erratic spraying of paint that leads to spatters, intermittent paint flow or insufficient product flow. When this happens, the psychological factor comes into play, which increases the worker’s nervousness and leads to a higher risk of making mistakes.
  • Undesired spatters on the repainted surface. Inevitably, this circumstance interrupts the normal development of the work process and forces us to make the necessary corrections before continuing (when the color is being applied), or once the paint is dry (when the spatter occurs during the application of top coats or clear coats).
  • Appearance of painting defects related to the lack of evenness in the applied paint layer, such as shading, insufficient coverage or incorrect alignment of the paint effects, all caused by an inadequate spray pattern. Clogged nozzle lines or orifices due to improper cleaning of the spray-gun is the most common cause of these failures.
  • Reduction of the spray-gun or some of its components’ shelf life. Inadequate cleaning causes certain components of the spray-gun, such as nozzles, to become unusable. On the other hand, other parts such as cable glands deteriorate prematurely due to this type of problem.
  • Partes de la pistola aplicación para su limpieza
    Parts of the application spray-gun for cleaning

Ways to effectively clean an application spray-gun

The ways to clean an application gun effectively can be divided into two types of actions. On the one hand, there is daily cleaning, which is carried out after finishing the application, and can be done manually or with a particular machine; and periodic cleaning, which is carried out from time to time to remove the dirt that remains embedded in certain parts of the spray-gun due to daily use. Whatever the type of cleaning applied, it is necessary to use the corresponding PPE and manage the waste generated appropriately.

Regarding the daily cleaning of the spray-gun, the most common way of cleaning is a combination of the manual system and the one carried out with a particular machine. In this case, the process to be followed is as follows:

  • Prepare the gun cleaning machine best suited to the paint base used, i.e. water or solvent.
  • Empty any remaining product left over in the cup.
  • Add a little of the cleaning solvent inside the cup.
  • Connect the gun to the air inlet and press the trigger, blocking the product outlet through the nozzle intermittently, using your fingers and for a couple of seconds each time. This generates a backward effect of the solvent towards the interior of the gun that dilutes and drags the residual paint that remains stuck on the ducts, orifices and walls of the nozzle and the fluid nozzle.
  • Disassemble the cup, nozzle, needle and pressure gauge.
  • Pre-clean the gun body, cup, needle and nozzle with the brush usually included in the cleaning machines.
  • Insert the gun, cup, needle and nozzle inside the cleaning machine, using the specific trigger-opening tools provided and placing each item in the most suitable nozzle.
  • Close the lid of the machine, select the cleaning time from the corresponding remote and wait for the time to pass.
  • During this time, clean the pressure gauge with a paper or cloth soaked in a suitable solvent.
  • Remove the gun body and the rest of the machine components.
  • Dry and assemble all components.
  • Store the gun in a place where it cannot be dropped or knocked.

On the other hand, when it is time to carry out periodic cleaning of the gun, the procedure is as follows:

  • Disassemble all the elements of the gun: regulators, springs, fluid nozzle, cup, etc.
  • Cover each component of the gun, including the body, with paint stripper. To avoid damage to the cable gland, it is recommended not to cover this part.
  • Leave to take effect for the time indicated by the paint stripper manufacturer.
  • Carry out an exhaustive cleaning of all the components, ducts and orifices of the gun with the help of the specific kits for this purpose. These kits include brushes, micro needles and paintbrushes of different shapes and sizes, as well as other utensils such as supports and lubricants to leave the gun perfectly clean and prepared. These kits are supplied in their corresponding case.

There are no excuses for not cleaning your spray-gun

The perfect condition and maintenance of the spray-gun is one of the most important keys to obtaining top quality finishes. For this reason, it is crucial to carry out a thorough cleaning every time an application is finished and, additionally, every now and then. Thanks to this combination, the operation of the spray-gun will always be perfect, avoiding the appearance of defects and any loss of time.

Do you want to learn more about application guns? Don’t miss reading the following articles: How a spray gun can ruin your paint job: part I and How a spray gun can ruin your paint job: part II

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