Conventional vs Electrostatic Paint Spray Guns

Which is best for your finishing operation and budget? Seven factors could help you decide.

Conventional and electrostatic spraying each has pros and cons for industrial paint lines. For example:

  • Conventional applicators can produce a great finish and generally cost less than electrostatic spray guns.
  • Electrostatic applicators can produce a top quality finish with transfer efficiency as high as 95 percent. This ability to put more paint on parts than conventional spray guns saves material and labor costs, bringing about a strong return on investment (ROI).

Top 7 factors for your paint line

What’s best for your industrial finishing operation and budget – conventional or electrostatic paint spraying? This comparison could help you decide.

Factor Conventional spray guns Electrostatic spray guns
1. Finish quality Great Excellent
2. Coverage Cover only the surface directly in front of the spray gun Wrap material around the part, using less paint
3. Equipment cost Lower price tag than electrostatic equipment Higher price tag than conventional equipment, but a quick return on investment (ROI) from lower paint cost, less VOCs, less cleanup and increased throughput 
4. Transfer efficiency Low transfer efficiency with a lot of overspray Up to 95 percent transfer efficiency possible with little overspray
6. Spraying non-conductive material (such as plastic or wood) Coating applied easily Conductive primer sometimes needed to optimize electrostatic benefits
7. Spraying waterborne material No extra equipment needed Isolation system or external charging applicator needed

What about the Faraday cage effect?

The Faraday cage effect can happen when spraying into corners or recessed areas with an electrostatic gun. Since charged paint spray is attracted to the grounded area closest to the applicator, the paint coats the part’s edges instead of going into the recessed area.

To compensate for the Faraday cage effect:

  • Some painters use a conventional gun to coat the recessed area and then use electrostatics to finish the rest of the part.
  • Others reduce or turn off the voltage of their electrostatic applicators and increase the air pressure, allowing shaping air to direct the paint into the corner.

Video compares transfer efficiency

See the difference between conventional spray application and electrostatics. This video compares the transfer efficiency of a conventional paint spray gun with electrostatic applicator coverage. 

How much you could save by changing your applicator technology?

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