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Automotive paint booths, most commonly known as spray booths, are pressure-controlled and closed environments that are used to paint vehicles from the smallest cars to the largest trucks. These booths can be found in most body shops these days and are usually fitted with different ventilation systems and motors to ensure an even paint job and to maintain a stable temperature and aid in reducing humidity levels in some instances.
The following is a comprehensive automotive paint booth guide created by our specialists here at JMC Automotive Equipment that will offer a deeper insight into the different types of spray booths available on the market, as well as into some of the most important features and functions that make them stand out from the rest.
A Closer Look at the Different Types of Car Spray Booths and Their Individual Benefits
There are several different types of car spray booths that one can find in an auto body shop, and each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. These paint spray booths can be classified according to their features or their overall design – while some of them are open, others are fully enclosed. However, the manner in which the air is filtered, pressurized and then re-directed is yet another factor that makes a difference, as some booths are pressurized while others are non-pressurized. The latter, draw their air through the special inlet area (which comes with a filter attached to it), and after that the exhaust fan simply exhausts the air through ducting leading outside of the building.
In spite of the fact that there are many different varieties of booths, they all have the same mechanism of action: the booths draw fresh air inside them and then they rely on their exhaust fans or Air Make Up units and exhaust fans to supply airflow for the booth. For the best results, the air that is used by the paint booth must be as clean as possible in order to prevent contaminants from interfering with the spraying process, as they might impact the quality of the paint and lead to uneven and sometimes disastrous results.
1. The Open-Front Paint Booths (Premier Flo)
Open-front automotive paint booths are by typically negative pressure units that are used for cutting in parts and priming operations. They take up a smaller area of the shop and save time where you won’t need to use booth time in an enclosed booth that is typically used for cleaner & final paint processes. The open front industrial bench booths come with a sturdy, durable and heavy-duty construction that will last throughout the years. They are very easy to install and operate and require minimal long-term maintenance as well. Another benefit is they are well suited for automated production designs and it can be used both for batch and for conveyor production, and is suitable small and for large-scale production systems as well.
2. The Fully Enclosed Booths
Fully enclosed paint booths are the most commonly used mainly because they provide a cleaner painting environment. They are available as negative pressure or positive pressure environments. Negative pressure booths are only using the exhaust fan to pull air into the booth from the ambient air outside of the booth cabin and positive pressure booths are pulling air into the booth through and Air Make Up unit. A booth with an Air Make up unit comes with an inlet, where air is drawn which pushes more air into the cabin than the exhaust is taking out, providing a pressurized environment and it also can be used with heat for cold days as well as provide the opportunity for baking or curing the painted surfaces for quickly.
One of the most notable benefits of the fully enclosed car paint booths is that unlike the open-front ones, these booths significantly reduce the amount of dirt, dust and other particles that can affect the painting process, due to the intake filter that is installed inside the inlet areas of the booth. The purpose of this filter is to keep dirt and debris outside and to ensure a high air quality.
3. Downdraft Booths
The downdraft car spray booths are amongst the most advanced ones and they come with different price tags – you can purchase them with their default features or you can opt for a modified downdraft booth. Down Draft booths typically are enclosed booths that also have intake filters and they most often are used with an Air Make Up unit providing clean fresh air in a slightly positive pressure environment. This booth is known for providing the cleanest environments for painting vehicles. In terms of Good, Better, Best, this booth would be characterized as Best. Down Draft Booths with Air Make Up units tend to be more costly than other versions but they do provide a very good Return on Investment. They are commonly found in large or high production shops.
Ameri-cure Air Make Up Unit
The unique air flow characteristics of the downdraft booths have made them very sought-after these days, and they are commonly used both for large and for small vehicles. As a matter of fact, this type of spray booth is the most commonly used one for industrial applications (especially for trucks), due to the generous ceiling filter that allows more air to be exhausted through the pit system located in the floor of the booth.
4. Modified Down Draft Booths
Downdraft booths are also divided into two distinct categories: they are Full Down Draft Spray Booths that require a pit in the floor and it has superior airflow than any other style and there are Modified Down Draft booths that encompass Down Draft with No Pit or Basement Needed, Semi-Down Draft booths, Down Draft Side Exhaust booths, & Down Draft Basement Booths which are designed to allow the air movement from the input area from the ceiling and then to the exhaust areas located somewhere other than a pit in the floor.
Example of Pit Before Paint Booth Installation
Example of Pit During Paint Booth Installation
Each version has its benefits and drawbacks with the most efficient version other than a Full Down Draft with a pit is the Down Draft with No Pit or Basement Needed. This model relies on its specially engineered intake plenum chamber and matching exhaust system to provide the best airflow other than a booth with a pit.
Full Downdraft Air Flow
Semi Downdraft Air Flow
Side Downdraft Air Flow
Then there is the Semi Down Draft that has the exhaust which is typically located at the end of the entire structure wit the airflow going down over the vehicle at a 45 degree angle for good air for 2/3’s of the booth and OK air by the entry doors, Side-Exhaust Down Draft booths with exhaust boxes on each side of the booth with the air coming down and then splitting toward the exhaust located on each side of the booth – typically has poor lighting around the middle to bottom of each side of the vehicle.
Finally, the Basement Down Draft Booth that has the air going into a raised floor basement that requires extra height shop ceilings and careful driving of the prepped cars as they have to drive up into and down out of these booths as well as technicians doing the same.
These models are usually available in negative pressure or positive pressure heat-modified Down Draft spray booths with the heat modified models with Air Make Up units being preferable, especially since they come with both a spray and a cure cycle and will provide cleaner faster paint jobs. These booths rely on the same mechanism as the typical Down Draft structures, which draw the fresh air from outside and then push it through the heated Air Make Up unit where it reaches the optimal temperature. Afterwards, the air is pulled through a set of filters to remove debris and impurities.
The Down Draft with No Pit or Basement needed coupled with an Air Make Up unit typically deliver the cleanest paint jobs out of all the booths from this category, due to the unique engineered airflow with the intensely filtered air (the air is cleaned during the paint and curing cycle). A clean, smooth and fine paint job can help the owner increase their productivity and their revenue, and these structures are usually made from galvanized steel of the highest quality, as well as including heavy duty steel frames, or can be manufactured of Double Wall Insulated Panels that ensure a fast, efficient and effortless installation.
5. The Crossflow Booths
The crossflow booths manipulate the movement of the air in a totally different way. In a nutshell, a crossflow booth is designed to make the air move through the booth, all the way from one end of the structure to the other one, thus the name of “cross flow”. This type of structure has literally been used for decades, and most of them are non-pressurized. When pressurized the quality of the air is higher when moving across the booth.
Crossflow Booth Air Flow
Even so, it is not uncommon for some body shops to use non-pressurized crossflow booths as they have their advantages. You cannot control the air temperature within a non-pressurized structure of this kind (unlike it happens in a pressurized cabin). This type of booth is still able to deliver good paint jobs, but will require more effort than the booths listed above. Also, the overall cleanliness and quality of the air can vary from one type of crossflow booth to another depending on the filtered area or size of both the intake air and the exhaust and their relative locations – either way, the pressurized structures offers the user far more control over the entire process, and this is the reason why they are to be preferred over the non-pressurized ones.
What Are The Most Important Features And Functions Of An Automotive Paint Booth?
Each type of paint booth is suited for a certain application. Nonetheless, there are several notable features and functions that every good and durable booth should have, and the most important one is undoubtedly the overall construction of this structure. The material used for the booth can truly make a difference, given the fact that such a booth involves a long-term investment for every body shop owner.
Example of Galvanized Steel Ameri-cure Uses
For this reason, steel is the most commonly used material due to its durability and increased life span. No matter if the booth is made of galvanized or cold rolled steel, these structures are made to last in the long haul. Taking galvanized steel as an example, this is the best type of material used for constructing a car paint booth nowadays, given the fact that it can resist rust (which would otherwise wreak havoc on a cold rolled steel, especially if the material is left untreated). Besides this, the galvanized steel can come with either a smooth or a shiny finish. It gains even more longevity when either powder coated or painted with high quality urethane paints.
Example of Lighting inside an Ameri-cure Paint Booth
The lighting also plays a pivotal role, as it is important for the booth to get a bright and full illumination –this way the painter can have a closer look at the spraying job and to make sure that it is even enough for a showroom-like car finish. Most modern booths come with four or more fluorescent light fixtures, depending on the overall size of the structure. A true saying in the refinish industry is “you can never have too much light” as it will assist the painter to get better beautiful paint jobs with less effort. These lights should be mounted behind tempered and transparent safety glass, to prevent them from being sprayed with paint during the process.
The finish of the structure also adds to the durability and efficiency of the booth, as one of the most common misconceptions these days is that the coating or the finish is all about the aspect. Some booths come in a powder coating that is typically aimed at galvanized steel structures, given the high adhesion to this type of material, while other booths are specifically made of a pre-coated steel (these structures usually have a pleasant vinyl finish) and double wall insulated models with high quality urethane painted finishes providing a smooth and elegant look.
Another important feature of a good paint booth is its overall design – there are some designs that come with two doors, others have three doors while others have four. Some of them are heavier (the barn doors that come with two big doors) while others are easier to manage and they are more space-effective at the same time.
Generally speaking, the car paint booths are pre-assembled, therefore they help the owner save a lot of time, money and trouble as the doors are already mounted and securely locked in place. The welding should be of the highest quality, as this also adds to the durability of the structure. Also related to the design of the structure, the seals aim to keep dirt and other contaminants from entering the booth (just like the air filters mentioned above). Every good paint booth comes with seals of the highest quality.
Last, but certainly not least, the general structural integrity of the booth should be taken into consideration as well before investing in such a product. Simply put, this refers to the load bearing strength of the booth, and there are two main design types: the structural steel member load bearing and the panel load bearing, the latter involving vertical sheet metal panels that are required for bearing the entire weight of the structure’s ceiling. However, the other design type relies on a horizontal panel construction (unlike the other type), and this design is also commonly used for buildings made of heavy duty, durable steel.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A High-Quality Automotive Paint Booth?
The first and perhaps the most important advantage of relying on a high-end car paint booth is the fact that the body shop using it can deliver work of an impeccable quality. At the same time, using a specialized designed with auxiliary controls that allow you to better control the booth environment significantly increases the production levels and it allows you to save a lot of time in the refinish process. The showroom-like quality finish of the cars coupled with the advanced technology embedded in these spray booths are generally the main reasons why many body shop owners choose to invest their money in such a structure nowadays.
The auto collision repair service has advanced greatly over the past several years, and so has the technology in the field. What every body shop owner wants is to deliver the highest number of quality paint jobs within the shortest period of time, and this is precisely why it is extremely important to choose your spray booth for your facility carefully. Call us up at 877-298-7730 to discuss your needs and so we can point you in the right direction when choosing your Automotive Paint Booth.
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