The History of Spray Booths

1940s Truck Paint Booth
1940s Paint Booth for Painting Trucks

Did you know that the origins of the spray booth go back as far as 1888? Did you know that many different spray booth manufacturers from all over the world have come and gone in that time?

We do, because we’ve been through it all. You may recognize such brand names as DeVilbiss, Team Blowtherm, JBI, and Binks, but you may not realize that all those brands were part of the creation of the company you know today as GFS.

The Atomizer

The Atomizer

The story really starts with a man by the name of Dr. Allen DeVilbiss. Back in 1888, he developed a device called the “atomizer,” which is really just a fancy name for a sprayer. Originally engineered for applications in the healthcare industry, it was quickly recognized that this device could be used to quickly and effectively apply paints and coatings.

At the time, painting was done with the slow and messy “brush and can” method, and companies such as Ford and other large manufacturers were wasting large amounts of time during the painting process as a result. Once the atomizer was adapted for spraying paint, production rates increased dramatically.

Early Paint Booths

1950s Crossdraft Paint Booth
1950’s crossdraft paint booth manufactured by Devilbiss

Of course, this method of applying coatings resulted in the need for a safe, controlled environment in which to spray in order to protect the workers from harmful fumes, as well as to reduce the risk of fire and explosions. Thus, the spray booth was born!

DeVilbiss was one of the earliest makers of spray booths, followed quickly by others like Joe Binks, founder of Star Brass Works in 1911, which would eventually be known as Binks Spray Booths.

Driven by the adoption of mass production techniques, the demand for spray booths skyrocketed over the years, and many other manufacturers came in to the market.

In 1990, DeVilbiss was acquired by ITW, a tool manufacturer based in Chicago.

Waterwash paint booth for Vought Corsair fighters

In 1984 Thermal Downdraft Systems began importing and selling booths manufactured by Blowtherm SPA, an Italian manufacturer of downdraft spray booths.

Over the next decade, Thermal Downdraft Systems and Blowtherm SPA would partner to create the North American company, Blowtherm USA in 1993, which would begin manufacturing their automotive spray booth products in the USA.

This side of the story continues with Blowtherm USA purchasing the DeVilbiss spray booth division from ITW in 1998, which was rebranded under the name ‘Team Blowtherm’. The following year, Team Blowtherm purchased the Binks Spray Booth division, and incorporated its product offering under the Team Blowtherm brand.

The Birth of GFS

In 1975, a company based out of Osseo, Wisconsin known as ‘JBI’ was founded, producing spray booths and related finishing products for the automotive, industrial and aerospace industries. In 1998, JBI was purchased by the Curran Group, a holding company based in Illinois with interests in the porcelain tile, rail industry, and asphalt contracting sectors. Shortly after, in 2000, JBI and the Curran Group purchased a US-based finishing systems manufacturer known as Blu-Surf.

Shortly after these events in 2003, Team Blowtherm purchased all remaining shares from Blowtherm SPA, therefore severing the ownership connection between the US and Italian sides of the company. Team Blowtherm (USA) then merged with JBI to create the company known as Global Finishing Solutions. This was the moment when Global Finishing Solutions, an entirely US-owned company, would first emerge in to the world. In 2005, the Curran Group purchased all remaining interests held by others within the company, and became the sole owners of Global Finishing Solutions.

GFS’ extensive product line includes equipment from all these previous brands, now manufactured under the Global Finishing Solutions name.

In addition to expanding the manufacturing facility and investing in machinery and equipment, GFS has also made great strides in product development and technological advances. For example, GFS developed the world’s first paint booth filter for waterborne paints. A sophisticated Computational Fluid Dynamics program allows GFS to simulate any concept or configuration to ensure that the highest levels of efficiency and performance are achieved out of a paint booth design.

Testing Paint Booth Airflow Concepts with Computational Fluid Dynamics
Screenshot of Computational Fluid Dynamics software running a simulation of the airflow in a large aerospace paint booth.
Revolutionary Filter Design - GFS' New WAVE Aqua Paint Booth Filters
GFS’ WAVE Aqua waterborne paint booth filter.

GFS continues to manufacture the world’s finest spray booths and finishing systems for all applications including Automotive, Industrial, Aerospace and more. Advanced design tools, top engineering talent, precision manufacturing capabilities, and a team dedicated to providing the highest levels of customer service and satisfaction ensure that GFS continues to lead the industry of paint booths and finishing systems.

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