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Spray gun vs iPhone. What a dilemma.

This blog post is not about the new technology in automotive repair industry, nor about its challenges or best practices. This post is about a crisis we definitely have in our industry. This is the human resource crisis. No matter how precise the color matching is, or how fast clearcoats dry, if we don’t have skilled, motivated and proud painters, the industry’s future is not bright. In fact, this post blog comes as a continuation of one of my recent articles “The biggest challenge in the collision repair is to keep it young.”

Just last week we had a round of presentations of new Devilbiss spray gun DV1 on the field. Usually I enjoy this part of my job. What can be better than a direct, unfiltered contact with the end users of your products? While the presentations were “business as usual” , one encounter left me very concerned and in doubt.

My sales manager and I visited a very typical for Greece bodyshop. Average size, family owned workshop of three people. The painter was actually the owner’s son, and the next generation of the business. After initial formalities and casual chat, I asked the young guy about his spaying equipment arsenal. It turned out that he is using two spray guns for basecoat and clearcoat applications. One was a Devilbiss GTI – the very first model of the iconic blue spray gun by the British manufacturer. The other piece was a SATA 2000 model. Both spray guns were purchased many years ago by the painter’s father, and they have obviously seen better days. Looks like a good potential customer, you may think. I thought the same exact thing. However, the youngster looked very indifferent and reluctantly asked for the price. The average retail price for a premium spray gun, regardless of the brand is slightly above 700 Euro in our part of the world. If you take in account that with a quality piece of equipment like Devilbiss DV1 or SATA Jet 5500 (I don’t mention other brands, but the list is not all-comprehensive) one could save massively on materials consumption, improve color matching on difficult metallic colors and decrease re-works, purchasing such gun is a no-brainer. Well, for me at least. However, my prospect customer had a different opinion.

“That is too expensive”, he replied indifferently and took a brand new iPhone XS Max out of his pocket. He started clicking through some Viber messages and turned his back to us. Our pitch came to an end.

En route back to my office I was thinking a great deal about this young man. I wasn’t thinking about the rejection. No. If you are in sales, you know that rejection is just a part of everyday life. What stroke me most is that the “professional” painter didn’t show any interest for something new in his industry. It wasn’t the question of money, of course. Someone who can afford buying an expensive gadget worth about 1300 Euro, can afford investing in his job. Unlike pricy phone, the last technology spray gun (or any other piece of equipment) will earn him money. The problem is that investment in his work is not something he wishes to do, and it is important to distinguish between investment and pure expenses. Purchasing a piece of equipment is definitely an investment. Buying a new phone, unless you are mobile app developer, is an expanse.

To conclude, I would like to say that there are people in our industry who struggle to make both ends meet. Probably not everyone, especially in crisis-hit Greece, can buy a DV1 or similar spray gun. However, a serious sprayer would rather save money for a gun, rather than for a phone. This is my humble opinion.Chances are that this bodyshop will not survive until the next generation, unless the owner changes his attitude.


Automechanika 2018. Footnotes.

Yet another Automechanika in Frankfurt closed its doors. I haven’t missed a single event since my very first visit to Frankfurt in 2002, but I still feel a slight adrenaline rush when I enter the hall 11, where the majority of the refinishing stands are located. As a visitor and as an exhibitor, despite the decrease of the exhibitions’ importance in our business (actually in any business), I do enjoy the buzz and the energy of this venue. I guess it is in my blood already.

What I enjoy most is meeting people. Many of them I know, many faces are familiar, but we have never had a chance to be acquainted. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the players in our industry are known. “Oh, I remember this guy, he is Greek with a horse brand (Etalon logo features a horse).” – I overheard a whisper in Spanish while in the queue in cafeteria “Bellavista”. In some ways, all the people you meet in the paths of the fair can be divided in three categories: customers (existing, potential and former), suppliers (current, potential or past) and competitors (competitor is always competitor). Meeting customers is probably the most exciting, but simultaneously the most alarming. Where is he going now? I hope not to meet the other guys?

When you return from the event, like Automechanika, you are asked pretty much the same question: What new have you seen? To be short, apart from the long awaited new spray gun from Devilbiss – DV1 – I haven’t seen anything really new. Of course, I could have easily missed something. Correct me please if I am wrong. As you may have heard any business, industry or organization is going through the life cycle in different ways, like revolution and evolution. This process has been described by Larry Greiner in his paper called “Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow.” Sometimes this theory is described as Greiner Curve. Revolution is characterized by fundamental change, which affects the way we do something (repair vehicles in our case). Evolution, on the other hand, is an upgrade, an improvement of the existing products and processes. Our industry is going through evolution phase without any breakthrough in the horizon so far. In no way I mean that the evolution is not good; it just underlines that automotive refinishing business is a mature market.


While I didn’t see a particularly groundbreaking product, I must admit one significant shift in our trade – much better marketing. For many years, collision repair materials suppliers hadn’t paid attention to the look and feeling of their products. Probably this year’s presentations in Automechanika marked the shift on this matter. The best example is probably the packaging of the newest Devilbiss flagship spray gun DV1. It reminds me the box from the luxury Swiss watch.

Those of you, who attended the fair last week, would probably agree with me that SATA had the most chic stand from all. SATA for some years now dedicates their impressively big stand to a particular theme – “Sweet Sixties” this year. SATA’s team welcomed their guests in stylish uniform, while presenting a dedicated special addition SATA 5000 model. Great job from the marketing team. They totally dismiss a stereotype that everything German is well-built, but boring…

I left the fair with solid feeling that I really enjoy the industry I am in, and, as always, regrettably, I didn’t have enough time to spend with my colleagues, customers, suppliers and competitors (yes, I have very good friends with whom we compete). Friends from Australia, Argentina, Serbia, UK, Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Spain, Hong Kong, China, Kenya, South Africa, Italy, Norway, and, of course, from Germany, I will be looking forward to see you soon!



What if you could only have one spray gun?

I really love to make assumptions of different kind. What if … I was invisible, what if I was a millionaire, what if you had limitless resources for your paint shop or bodyshop? The last one actually was a title for my blog post sometime ago. Here is another one: “What if I had just one spray gun for all my jobs?”

I sell spraying equipment for bodyshops for quite a long time now. Modern spray guns producers compete in consumption, ergonomics and design. New, sexy models appear virtually every year, tempting us to buy one. It is almost like with new models of smart phones, so when a new one comes, you absolutely need it. However, if you could only have a choice to keep one, what spray gun would it be? Please do not misunderstand me; I do not advocate using one and only spray gun in any bodyshop, big or small. Far from it, I suggest that spray guns are vital tools of a trade, and a sprayer absolutely must have minimum three guns: one for basecoats, one for clearcoats, and one for more viscose materials like fillers and primers.

What if

Which technology to choose from?

Before actually picking the preferred model, I would like to say a few words about the atomization technology, which is the most versatile to spray different coatings, both basecoats and clears. Remember the assumption, only one gun for all final coating jobs!

Unfortunately, in our industry we have in general a problem with standardizations (recall the post about MS and HS clearcoats)? Similarly, categorization of different spraying technologies is prone to questionable terminology. I will simplify and distinguish three main spray gun systems:

  • High pressure
  • HVLP
  • Trans-Tech or RP (reduced pressure). You can also meet a term LVLP, which means Low Volume Low Pressure, but it is not as common.

High-pressure spray guns choice I would drop first for its high material consumption and non-compliance to various legislations.

HVLP or Reduced Pressure?

By definition, they key difference between two technologies is that HVLP uses lower pressure in air cap, which is compensated with high volumes of air to atomize and deliver the paint with desirable finish results. Trans-Tech (or RP) alters the balance between pressure and air volume. Air cap pressure in RP is about 2,5 times higher (about 1.6 Bar), and therefore less air volume is needed (smaller compressor output as well required). Putting aside all technicalities, Trans-Tech spray guns allow us to spray better than HVLP such materials as HS and UHS clearcoats, without compromising the quality of basecoat application though. I vote for Trans-Tech/High Efficiency (Devilbiss), RP (SATA) or similar technology.

Gtipro Lite

Which spray gun is the one and only?

I have to admit that after being a distributor for Devilbiss equipment for more that ten years, I am bias. If I had to choose just one spray gun for application the final coatings in my bodyshop, it would be GTIPRO LITE TE10 with 1.3 fluid tip. Here is why:

– TE10 High Efficiency is probably the most all-around air cap in Devilbiss range. It is highly recommended for spraying both basecoats and clears (including UHS) by the majority of leading paint brands.

– Ergonomic gun body

– Lightweight – only 446 gms

– GTIPRO Lite gives the possibility to switch easily between different nozzles without the need to change the air cap.

– Low air consumption – 270 l/min

– Low material consumption

– Smooth, kick free control


And what is your spray gun of choice?


The minimalist guide to HVLP (Compliant) spraying technology.

Without a doubt there have been said or written a lot about the HVLP or Compliant spray guns and their benefits. However, switching simply to new (not so new, you can say) technology is not enough. A sprayer must also alter his spraying techniques.


Definition of HVLP and Compliant technology and its benefits.

Let me just name a few of the benefits, which automotive refinishing professionals will enjoy by switching to HVLP or Compliant guns. Yet I would like to clarify the meaning of each technology first. If the term HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) is pretty well known, the definition of Compliant gun is not so clear. Actually “compliant” means that it complies with some rules, and particularly rules about VOC emission, which require a spray gun used in automotive repair jobs to deliver at least 65% transfer efficiency. The best two examples of “compliant” spraying technology are Trans-Tech ™ system from Devilbiss and RP ™ from SATA. These two brands came up with similar spraying system, which allows achieving desired 65% transfer efficiency while having increased output air pressure in a gun’s cap. Increased output pressure allows better atomization of higher viscosity materials, like, for example, HS clearcoats.

Benefits of switching to HVLP (Compliant) technology.

-          Lower materials consumption. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPT) simply switching from conventional (high pressure) guns to HVLP will improve transfer efficiency, and, hence reduce material costs, from 35% to 49%. (Yes, by using high pressure guns you can waste up to 65% of the paint). However, in order to get close to 65% efficiency, proper spraying techniques must be adopted by a body shop sprayer  (we will talk about it later on in this article).

-          Besides saving on materials costs, by adopting HVLP technology your will be working in safer working conditions and with less damage to environment.

-          Less overspray will prolong spray booth filters life, consequently it will help to decrease overhead costs.

-          Automotive repair professionals, who switched to compliant technology and adopted proper spraying techniques, enjoy higher quality paint jobs.

-          Finally, being conformable with EU regulations or US EPA rules will insure you in case of inspections from the government bodies.

7 ways to alter spraying technique to get maximum out of your new spray gun.

  1. Set up the inlet air pressure exactly per spray gun producer recommendations. Usually the pressure should be in the range within 2-2.5 Bar (29-36 PSI).
  2. Shorten the distance to the surface you spray. The distance must be closer than with conventional high-pressure guns, somewhere around 20cm (8 inch). Distance for car spraying
  3. Adjust your spray gun until you get clean, cigar shaped pattern without overspray on the edges.                                                                               Spray gun pattern
  4. Angle of spraying must be exactly at 90 °
  5. Spraying speed must be constant, without arching and a little slower than with conventional spray gun. Arching spraying
  6. Overlapping should be no less than 50% (usually 75% overlap is required with high pressure gun).
  7. Check how much paint you will need exactly for each job, and mix just enough quantity to avoid waste of materials.

Finally, please have a look at two short videos from Devilbiss and SATA on how to set up and use your spray gun to get maximum performance and cost saving.



What do a sniper and a car painter have in common?


I have to
admit, I like comparing things which are not meant to be compared just for fun.
So, after the blog post “4 things a car painter and a doctor have in common?”,
have a look on what the most skilled killer has in common with a peaceful (well
I suppose in most cases) bodyshop guy. I spent almost five years in the army,
so both professions are very close to me.

Refinishing pic

1.      1. 
professionals need an essential tool for their job to be “executed”-  they need a gun! Not just any gun, but a top
! Actually, the better the gun, the quicker the job will be done; less paint
will be sprayed, fewer bullets will be shot.




2. Whether
it is a sniper’s rifle or HVLP spray gun, both tools need regular calibration. To
keep equipment ready for action is crucial. Intensive spraying will inevitably
cause fan’s pattern deterioration, while frequent shooting interferes with
rifle’s settings.


3.      3. 
environment parameters like humidity and temperature affect the gun’s
performance. A good sniper must know the current humidity, temperature and wind
speed, because those affect bullet’s trajectory. While a good car painter must
also set his spray gun, according to the weather conditions (it is called
“Intelligent atomisation”
). For example, with high humidity, the atmosphere
slows the drying time of paint, and higher flow air cup (HVLP ) is better to be
used. While, as the temperature increases, drying times of coatings speed up,
so smaller nozzles are preferred for decrease paint flow. 

     Intelligent atomisation

4.      4. 
you ask a NAVY SEAL, what is the most important thing before and after the
operation, he would probably reply: taking care of his gun is an absolute
priority. Similarly, car sprayer will spend enough time to keep his favorite
Devilbiss or SATA (or any other brand) gun clean and shiny.



5. It
is not a secret that the best collision repair job is the one, which is not
visible, as if no repair was done what so ever. Alike, a sniper will leave no
traces on his ambush. No traces, no shells, absolutely nothing.

Sniper 3

Despite the
similarities, I have to admit that there is one big difference between a sniper
and a car painter: the first is trained to kill, while the second is trained to
save…even if he just saves your car’s look

Doctor doll


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