Earth Day is an annual celebration to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Whether you are an advocate for cleaner energy, electric vehicles, using less plastic or reducing your overall eco-footprint, we should focus our attention on things we can do — big and small — to help reduce our impact on the environment and develop a plan for sustainable growth.
Over the years, there have been many aspects of paint booth technology that have evolved to reduce energy consumption and be more efficient, while also contributing to a more effective paint environment. Not only do these technologies reduce the environmental impact of operating a paint shop, but they also lead to a cleaner, brighter and more productive shop. We have identified seven ways that you can start using less and cleaner energy in your shop today:
1. Electric Infrared Curing Technology
In increasing numbers, many people are switching to electric over gas — and it is no different in automotive collision repair shops. Infrared (IR) drying technology increases paint shop throughput by providing significant time savings over a traditional cure cycle or convection dryer, as vehicles do not have to sit overnight before polishing.
In gas IR systems, a catalytic reaction happens that decreases overall cure time; however, this does not happen until the units are preheated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which can take up to 15 minutes. To prevent lost time during the warm-up period, gas catalytic units are typically left on all day, consuming a large amount of energy.
Short wave electric infrared technology, such as REVO Accelerated Curing Systems from Global Finishing Solutions (GFS), generates only a fraction of the energy costs needed to run a conventional curing system by providing exceptionally fast drying times that reduce the need for rework. REVO Systems concentrate drying energy on only the panels needing repair, delivering an even, complete cure.
REVO Systems reach curing temperature almost instantly and are ready to cure a repair immediately. Cooldown is also very quick, so the systems can be turned on only when needed and are safe to handle shortly after shutdown.
2. LED Lamps
It is no secret that LED lamps are an energy saver for your home and business, and they can now be easily integrated into your shop, paint booth or other finishing equipment for additional savings.
LED T8 Lamps from GFS offer significant energy savings — up to 40 percent* when compared with traditional fluorescent 32-watt T8 systems. Lower energy consumption allows for short payback periods, making it more cost-effective to upgrade to LED lights.
Additionally, no rewiring is required because the LED lamps use existing electrical wiring. Waste is also minimized when switching to LEDs since the tubes can be installed in existing light fixtures.
*Actual savings depend on your system configuration.
3. Booth Shield
An alternative to power washing your booth with gallons of water, Booth Shield peelable coatings from GFS are more environmentally friendly than booth paper, which can create a large volume of waste. Booth Shield lasts up to 700 booth cycles, and with a simple score to the edges, it peels off and can be disposed of normally.
4. Waterborne vs. Solvent-Based Paint
Compared to solvent-based paint, waterborne paints are less toxic to the environment. With new rules that fall under the umbrella of the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) guidelines, regulating the use of VOCs should now be at the top of shop owners’ priorities. Whereas conventional basecoats have a VOC solvent content of about 84 percent, a typical waterborne basecoat is composed of about 70 percent water and only 10 percent solvent.
The easiest way for shops to meet NESHAP guidelines is to use waterborne coatings. For shops continuing to use solvent-based paint, GFS engineers have designed custom solutions to combat the release of vapors and particles into the air. GFS even engineered a custom carbon filtration chamber for Kindig-It Design’s main paint booth that they use for show painting with their custom, solvent-based paint color line — Modern Classikk by Kindig. Their new GFS Ultra® XD Paint Booth — one of two at Kindig-It — captures solvent vapors and particles before they are released into the atmosphere, meeting NESHAP’s requirements.
5. Powder Coating
An environmentally friendly coating option, powder coating is becoming increasingly more popular across many industries. As opposed to liquid coating, powder coating does not release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), solvents or other pollutants into the air. These are commonly found in paint fumes, which are captured within paint booths. In powder coating booths, oversprayed powder can be recovered and reused. Overall waste from the powder coating process is minimal, and it can be disposed of easily and safely.
6. Energy-Saving Systems
As air is exhausted from paint finishing equipment, that heat is lost as well. Heat recovery systems help reclaim some of the heat that escapes with the exhausted air, in turn providing measurable energy savings. On average, GFS heat recovery systems provide 40 to 50 percent energy savings for air make-up systems serving the booth for both heating and cooling.
Additionally, GFS paint booth control panels feature an economy mode option, which reduces airflow by 50 percent. This energy-saving feature automatically ramps the paint booth down and runs on idle when the booth is not in use. The system uses outside air during energy-saving mode, ensuring clean air to the booth. With economy mode on LOGIC and Engage control panels on automotive refinish paint booths, shops have seen savings of up to 60 percent in electricity and 75 percent in fuel costs.
7. Government Programs for Small Businesses
In addition to improving your paint shop’s throughput and paint finish quality, an efficient, code-compliant paint booth can have a significant impact on the quality of the air in your shop and community. Some government programs have been put in place to help reduce air pollution and make it easier for small businesses to buy or replace a new paint booth that will not only help contribute to cleaner air, but also improve your business.
Body shops and collision centers in Ohio may be eligible for financing assistance through the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority’s Clean Air Resource Center to help offset the cost of a new paint booth. Find out if your state has programs such as these and if your shop qualifies.
These are just a handful of the products, programs and technologies that are available to make your finishing operation more energy-efficient and productive. We encourage you to spend this Earth Day (and the next) finding ways to make your shop — and life — more ecologically friendly.