by Brian Ladegard, Director of OperationsAs part of our GreenTech philosophy, not only is our goal to develop new products that are more efficient than the prior generation, but we follow this approach for our processes as well. That is, our commitment to sustainable practices extends to our production processes for gains in terms of economy and ecology. Case in point – we have just completed installation of a new Nordson ColorMax powder paint application system complete with their Automatic Feed System and new Encore spray guns. As a result, we expect to see a significant increase in powder spray efficiency, less scrap powder, lower disposal charges, higher quality painted parts, and significantly faster color change times.
In our old booth, we typically got 60% of the sprayed powder on the parts and 40% became process scrap. We were able to recycle one color with our older booth, but this didn’t work too well because our primary color kept changing all the time. In the new Nordson ColorMax booth, we can now effectively recycle ALL colors through the use of dual cyclone technology. This automatically feeds back (recycles) the 40% of powder that hits the parts and falls into the bottom of the booth – increasing our actual powder usage efficiency to about 95%.
The other significant advantage for us is color change over time. The entire booth and all feed hoses had to be fully cleaned (manually) to prevent mixing of colors between production runs. Our new ColorMax booth has much of the cleaning cycle automated, so a typical color change time for the new booth should be reduced by up to 75% vs. the old booth. The booth Canopy is a state of the art material that allows for easy blow offs during color changes. This time regained is significant - as we typically change colors 2-3 times per day.
Finally, we also changed our actual paint application guns to the new Encore system. These guns are new Low Velocity technology that allows for more even coating and better use of powder at lower air pressures – further reducing powder spray waste. With the new Lower Velocity technology, we should also improve our painting finish quality for better parts on the “first pass” – with less defects and less rework and re-paints.