When it comes to compressed air systems for collision repair shops there is no one size fits all solution. Every shop has different requirements and different restrictions. The right equipment and a properly designed and installed system will substantially increase your long-term shop efficiency and profitability. Production Supply can assist with all your compressed air system needs from specifying the correct compressor size and piping system to air filtration, dryers and maintenance programs.
Automotive paint and body shops use compressed air in nearly every step of the automotive body repair process. Including various sanding steps (rough to wet finishing), multiple paint applications, (primer coats, base coats and finishing clear coats) and they all consume compressed air. As a result, compressed air plays a critical role in auto body repair, so the choice of air compressor and air delivery piping should be considered carefully.
Compressor Sizing and Installation Considerations:
Pressure needs — Consider each tool in your shop that requires compressed air and follow the manufactures recommended guidelines for the required operating psi. Using an incorrect pressure can result in poor tool performance or adversely affect your paint application.
Air demand — Be sure to determine the size of your compressor based on your specific compressed air requirements, including psi and CFM. When sizing your compressor you should take in to account the operating pressure and sum of your average CFM requirement for each piece of equipment in your shop. For example, if you use a spray gun that requires eight CFM with a use factor of 50 percent, that tool would require four CFM from the total compressed are delivery. To create an accurate estimate of your total air demand, do this for each tool in your shop.
Compressed air storage — A general rule of thumb for compressed air storage is to have four to five gallons of air storage per one CFM of compressed air delivered from your compressor. However, this can vary depending on your specific application and equipment requirements.
Questions to ask:
Do you need oil-free air or is an oil-lubricated compressor acceptable? If you don't care about small amounts of oil in your process, then oil-lubricated is perfectly fine. If oil in your process is an issue, you will also need to consider filtration or an oil-free compressor.
Do you need dry air? All air compressors create condensate, but condensate can cause problems in some applications. To reduce or eliminate this condensate, you should consider a compressed air dryer. Dryers reduce moisture in the delivered air, yielding a better paint process.
Smaller body shops typically will not use any filtration, though most medium to large shops will use at least point-of-use membrane or desiccant style dryers and a point-of-use carbon filter at the paint booth, as well as drip legs and in-line filters to capture condensate. Additionally, FRLs (filter, regulator and lubricators) are used to keep tools oiled.
This practice, however common, can be costly and requires frequent replacement of your filtration media in multiple places. A best practice is to install a refrigerated, membrane or desiccant compressed air dryer and to use coalescing, particulate and carbon filtration for the entire system to minimize cost and cut-down on short-term filter media change-outs.
Ideally, your compressor should be installed on a solid, level surface. You should adhere to the recommended guidelines for spacing around and above the compressor to allow for the proper air flow and maintenance access. The unit should be kept away from dusty environments to guard against shortened air inlet filter life, poor compressor performance and diminished compressed air quality.
Air Delivery Piping:
For many years, black iron has been the standard choice for piping in across many industries, even though a more efficient alternative is available. Black iron is very heavy, begins to rust as soon as it is installed and becomes less and less efficient over time. Piping systems more than five years old have been shown to exhibit leaks of up to 25 percent and a single quarter-inch air leak at 100 psi will cost more than $2,500 a year depending on current energy costs. Replacing old piping systems with corrosion-free and lightweight modular aluminum piping helps minimize air leakage and reduce line losses.
By minimizing pressure drops and optimizing compressed air quality, a well-designed air piping system can make a big difference in the energy efficiency of the compressed air system. Modular aluminum air piping gives you the freedom to design a custom compressed air piping system to meet the unique needs of your facility while offering flexibility to adjust the design should your facility expand.