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7 tips for collision repairs during hot season.

written by Alexandros Aslamazis 

In most of the countries in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is in the middle and temperatures reached the peak. Unfortunately, not all of us are on holidays, so business in body shops continues, despite the “beach mood”. Below you will find seven short tips, which may help you to deal with problems caused by extreme weather conditions during the summer.

  1. Cool down your compressor.

As temperature rises, excessive water in the compressed air system inevitably occur. Thus, many sprayers face the problem of water blisters in their paint job. To minimize this problem, make sure that your compressor is placed in cool place, not under direct sun or closed place with poor air circulation. For more information on this issue, please check here an article I wrote some time ago about this subject.

  1. Choose cooler times of the day for color spraying.

Plan your prep jobs so that most of actual spraying will be done in the mornings or in the evenings, when temperatures go down.

  1. Mix your 2K coating materials using appropriate slow hardeners and thinners.

Using too fast hardeners and thinners may cause a lot of paint defects like swelling, loss of gloss, solvent boil, orange-peel effect, overspray, clouding, water spotting and moisture blisters.  Most of the car refinishing materials brands have slow thinners and hardeners in their range, so check TDS of the products you use in order to choose the right mixture according to the outside weather conditions.

  1. Avoid using so-called express or fast primers and clearcoats even for spot repair jobs.

In many paint systems, you can find special products dedicated for spot repairs, which offer fast drying results. In normal conditions, these materials are very useful, however during the summer it is better to avoid using them, since many of the above-mentioned paint defects may appear.

  1. Pay attention to the humidity levels.

In certain climates, heat is accompanied by very high humidity, which may affect drying times and surface wetting during spraying process. For example, waterborne basecoats are very sensitive to humidity levels. In case of high humidity use, spray gun with HVLP technology. Air cap based on HVLP technology delivers higher airflow, which in turn helps to achieve drier application.

  1. Do not proceed with polishing or nib removal job on a hot surface.

Cool down the car surface to be polished or buffed. Polishing process raises the temperature of the surface, so hot already clearcoat will “burn down” in matter of seconds, causing loss of glass and matting.

  1. Do not skip using personal protection products like disposable masks, overalls and gloves.

It is true that working in high temperature conditions is not a pleasant task; however, potential occupational health problems outweigh by far any discomfort caused by wearing protection equipment. We recommend using disposable masks with air valve to keep wearer’s face cooler.

Title image

Happy painting everyone!

Selling to a bodyshop. Is your product/service vitamin or painkiller?

Since many of our readers are actually suppliers of bodyshops, trading partners, I would like to share some thoughts about how different could one product be in the eyes of a bodyshop manager or an owner, depending on their business, size and condition. Perhaps you already have heard about a theory that all products and services could be divided into two groups: vitamins and painkillers. Let me introduce to your attention how this sales concept applies to the collision repair business.

Vitamins

Vitamins are products or services, which are “nice to have”, but not “need to have”. They are optional. It is just like with real multivitamins we take from time to time. We know that vitamins are good for our health, but we do not know exactly how good they are. It is not measurable.

Painkillers

Painkillers on the other hand are the products or services, which solve real, tangible problems. These products are “need to have”. Without these products or services, the overall operation of a bodyshop has serious problems.

Vitamins or painkillers

Examples

In fact, car paint supplier carry both types of products in the range. Therefore, a sales rep should be in the position to distinguish what is what, applied to each bodyshop individually. For instance, if in a bodyshop there is a bottleneck problem in the preparation area, causing delays and long waiting times for sprayer, then additional sanding machine, more efficient abrasives and faster drying primers are real “painkillers”.

Another example. In a busy bodyshop, fast drying clearcoat could be a real “painkiller”, unlocking more capacity and hence higher profits and improved customer satisfaction. However, if a body shop experiences lack of customers and is struggling to survive, faster clearcoat is “nice-to-have”, but not necessary product.

Why is it important?

If your work is to sell car refinishing products (just like mine), you probably think of how to increase your figures, to upsell, cross sell etc. Nevertheless, it makes little sense to push products, which are not real “painkillers”. In order to identify such products, we should be genuinely interested in our customers’ problems. Only if we know where the pain is, we can offer the right “medicine”. By doing so, not only we will achieve sales, but also build long-term loyal business relationship.

AUTOMOTIVE CLEARCOAT CLASSIFICATION

 by Alexander Aslamazis

A few months ago, we launched a discussion on Etalon LinkedIn group, which was about automotive clearcoats’ classification. The problem is that there is no clear distinction between MS, HS and Ultra HS clearcoats. In fact, most of the suppliers prefer to name its clears HS, even if the product is low in solids. Wouldn’t it be better to have some official classification in place? Many colleagues sent their suggestions and comments; therefore, I would like to summarize the discussion in the following blog post.

As automotive refinish materials supplier, I see a lot of confusion concerning clearcoats commercial names. One could see ibn the market a low quality clears named HS or VHS, causing many misunderstanding and false expectations. Below you can find five opinions on how to classify clearcoats according to their quality, properties and composition.

  1. By solvent content.

All the clearcoats used today in car refinishing industry, employ organic solvents. Even if water based clears appear here and there, but they still have not reached comparable results to the conventional solvent clears, both for application and final appearance. Three different categories of clears with progressive reduction of solvent content are presented below:

  • MS (medium solids) – the resin particles are larger compared to HS or UHS clearcoats. The amount of thinner necessary to obtain the right application viscosity must be about 20% greater than the other types (usually VOC 550-580 g/l)
  • HS (high solids) – the resin particles are smaller compared to the MS ones, and the amount of solvent is around 15% (usually around 420 g/l).
  • UHS or VHS (ultra or very high solids) – the size of resin particles is even smaller and consequently it is possible to reduce by thinner up to 10% (less solvents than 420g/l).

 

  1. By solids content.

Not all the producers actually include this information on their labels. Solids content is measured in percentage by either weight or volume.

  • MS (medium solids) – solids content 40-45%
  • HS (high solids) – solids content 45-50%
  • UHS or VHS (ultra or very high solids)50% and higher

 

  1. By VOC compliance

Since 2004 EU Directive for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in Paints, Varnishes and Vehicle Refinishing Products limits VOC content in topcoats, including clearcoats, up to 420 g/l. Taking this figure as starting point, many professionals regard all non-compliant clearcoats as MS (medium solids), while clears with VOC less or equal to 420 g/l as HS or UHS.

 

  1. By number of coatings

Some vehicle refinishing professionals judge clearcoat on the number of layers you need to achieve appropriate film thickness. Simplistic categorization of clearcoats according to the number of coats applied looks as following:

  • MS (medium solids) 2 or 3 coats
  • HS (high solids) 2 coats
  • UHS or VHS (ultra or very high solids)1 or 1 full and a 1 mist coats

 

  1. By feeling

As my colleague, Malcolm Cutting mentioned in his post, some painters will even describe the difference between HS and MS as one is thicker and you can really lay it on, while the other is runny, rather liquid.

To summarize, I believe that automotive paint suppliers should be careful with giving misleading commercial names to their products. Of course, some kind of standard accepted across the industry would really help to end the confusion.

Special thanks to my colleagues, who participated in this discussion and especially to Hamid Elhalfi, Gregory Boccardo, Marc Toegaert, Rob Dumais, Mike Fahham, Malcolm Cutting, Lori Lorenz, Carmelo DiLuciano, Jack Reinking.

 automotive clearcoat

Stop pouring money the drain in your bodyshop Part 1

Money drain

It is not a secret that a body repair shop, regardless of its size, is a business; and every business is designed to make profit for the owner/entrepreneur who invests his money and expects return on his investment. The more profit a bodyshop produces, the better for its stakeholders (the owner, employees, suppliers etc). So, what shall we do to increase the profit? Well, you can write a book of a size of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”, but without a doubt, if a body shop manager will spot where money go down the drain in a shop’s operations, it will help to optimize the  profit. In the first part of this series of articles, I will draw your attention to two of such money drains: paint over mixing and spray gun efficiency.

Mixing paint quantities

Believe it or not, but the waste of materials, which were over-mixed for a particular paint job may increase the overall paint (clear, primer, filler etc) consumption up to 20%. The biggest wastage occurs with 2K materials, which have a very short pot life of a ready-to-use mixture. I have seen many times how a painter was pouring into sink half cup of clear coat, simply because the working day was over and tomorrow the material will be already cured. This is about 200-250gr of the material!

Paint mixing

Why it happens?

There are a few reasons why a painter is mixing too much material for a given job:

  1. Lack of experience with a particular product. As we all know, coverage and consumption from product to product may vary dramatically. For example, UHS clearcoat may need only one full layer with a mist coat to get 60 microns of thickness, while certain MS clears won’t get such a film thickness even in two full coats. The difference between primers and fillers can be even bigger. So, please familiarize yourself with the material you use, study TDS and get used to it. Don’t change the materials used in a bodyshop too often.
  2. Overall professional incompetence of a sprayer. Unfortunately, badly trained people in a bodyshop are the biggest problem. Every bodyshop owner should invest in people and their constant education concerning the materials and spraying techniques. Some of the paint suppliers provide specially designed software, which helps to estimate the materials consumption per every imaginable type of painting job. Train your people, invest in them!
  3. Pure laziness of a painter. Yes, unfortunately it happens often that a painter over-mixes materials merely to avoid going back and forth to the mixing room. To avoid such a behavior, there should be established a good system of the materials consumption and inventory control. In addition, a good working culture in the company should be developed, where every worker cares about the overall result and profitability.

Paint mixing 2

Inappropriate spray gun set up and spraying technique

Another common problem related to the material’s excessive consumption is directly linked to a spray gun used by a painter. I will never stop writing about the importance of a spray gun as single most important piece of equipment in a painter’s arsenal.

What are the reasons for the excessive paint consumption related to a spray gun?

  1. Inappropriate spray gun technology used. For the last two decades the world of automotive refinishing has moved from high pressure spray guns to HVLP and other product saving technologies. However, you could still see in some bodyshops old conventional guns used. Painters just like the atomization, while they ignore that over 60% of the material sprayed never reaches the surface. Use only compliant spray guns with certified transfer efficiency over 65%. Period.
  2. Using wrong nozzle-air cap set up for a spray gun. It is not enough to acquire the newest technology spray gun, but you should also be able to choose the right nozzle size and air cap. For example, using a nozzle size 1.4 mm instead of recommended 1.2mm will definitely increase the quantity of the material sprayed. Consequently, paint defects like “runs” and “color mismatch” will come a long with the higher than expected material usage. Consult your paint supplier and technical data about the correct spray gun set up. Always shoot some paint or just water on a piece of paper to see the size, shape and consistency of the fan produced by the spray gun. Calibrate your weapon!
  3. Poor working condition of a spray gun. Even if you have the right settings and the last technology spraying equipment, proper maintenance and cleaning remain crucial for the economy of the paint or clear sprayed. We should not forget to replace the worn out nozzles and needles. Everyday cleaning is a must.
  4. Incorrect spraying techniques. Provided that your spray gun is in perfect shape, still you can increase the waste of the materials by adopting wrong spraying techniques. The most common mistakes are too slow spraying pace and too much overlapping between the passes. Establish some kind of benchmark for the perfect application techniques, learn from your colleagues and tech reps. New spray gun model may require slight technique adjustments. It is like with a car, when you change your old vehicle on some other model, you alter your driving techniques according to the new car you own.

 

To be continued.

  Spraying picture

 

5 things big auto paint companies won’t tell you!

You can't handle the truth

During the last 10 plus years, I had an opportunity to travel and meet many people in car refinishing industry. Whether I was in Africa, South-East Asia, Europe or Americas, more or less, I have stumbled upon the same paint brands (or paint groups). These groups, and I would distinguish 4 of them (I don’t want to name them in order not to offend anyone or/and receive angry comments). Nonetheless, I would say that they share a few common traits in what they want their customers and stakeholders to know, and what they prefer not to talk about. Each one of the leading automotive paint group wants to spread a positive image of a leader, innovator, safe partner and global player with socially responsible and transparent business conduct. And mostly all these are true. However, there are also some things, which big sharks of automotive refinishing prefer not to speak.

Spray gun

Here I present 5 truths, which car paint manufacturers won’t tell you:

1. Different paint brands may have exactly the same product inside the can, but with very different pricing. As we all know, each big paint group has more than one paint brand in its portfolio. The idea behind it is to address different customers segments and markets. Very clear up to now. Nevertheless, in many cases the paint inside the tin is absolutely the same. The question is, why some customers must pay more for exactly the same product?

2. Paint approvals by OEM (car manufacturers) are the matter of money, not the quality. Probably you heard many times from your potential customer: “Our manufacturer approves only X brand of paint for the repair jobs”. I have to say that the value and influence of these approvals vary from market to market, yet in some countries you virtually have no chance to supply authorized bodyshop without the approval.  Those who are in paint business for a while know, that in some instances, paint companies simply buy this document from OEMs, and the one who pays more, gets the business.

 3. Lifetime warranty, which are advertised by some paint brands, is nothing but marketing trick. I like this one a lot. Lifetime warranty reminds me the closes in insurance contracts or bank loans agreements. There are some many “if” in those documents, that one hardly can satisfy all of them. In practice, a paint producer can easily refuse to refund your bodyshop, if he wants to. Look at technical data sheets, and you will realize that it is very difficult to have 100% of conditions fulfilled in a real-world bodyshop. When someone is asking about Etalon products warranty, I always reply that we offer no less than a big paint company offers. Statistics also proves that in 99% problems in a refinishing job comes from the wrong application, human mistakes or equipment failure, and not the material itself.

 4. Free equipment and mixing machines are already included in the price of paint. Another trick, which many bodyshops believe in. All the leading paint producers are big multinational corporations, where profit margins and markup are the main figures their shareholders are looking at. Be sure that any free equipment, trainings and any sort of financial incentives, are already paid by you with a vengeance!

Arrogant

5. The paint companies do not produce many of the auxiliary paint materials, like fillers, primers and even clearcoats. They simply outsource the production to smaller players. The funny thing about this is that many times sales managers talk in a rather arrogant and mocking way about the quality of the smaller competitors, who in turn produce for them. In addition, frequently big guys don’t mention on their products the country of origin of their filler or primer. Why? Simply because “made in Turkey” or “made in China” would heart their image.

  Big or small lies are lies

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