Switching from a Cup Gun to an Air-Assisted Airless

Finishers give advice about how to adjust to the differences between cup spray-guns and air-assisted airless models. May 27, 2014

(Finishing Forum)
(WOODWEB Member):
I have a new finisher who is having trouble switching over to our Kremlin system. I would like to encourage him to make the switch, so let me hear your success stories from when you made the switch over from a cup gun.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
Two words...

From contributor F:
What kind of problems is he having? If the Kremlin is set up properly, there should be no issues. For volume and productivity there is no match, and I have about 8 different cup guns to choose from. If I am spraying anything more than a quart, I am using the pump. There really is no comparison.

From contributor C:
Do you have different tip sizes for him to try? Maybe the output is different than what he is used to. Once he gets used to it he should really appreciate the ease of use and the difference in weight between the two.

From contributor H:
Didn't your equipment dealer come in and start it up? if not, get him back in and have him work with your painter instead of thrashing around with a new system. For that kind of money, you should get the service.

By the way, AA systems are the way to go in most applications.

From contributor N:
I don't think it's as far apart as the Yugo/Ferrari comparison. More like 1961 Alfa and 2014 Lexus or Acura.

I love the simplicity of the pot/gun and if I'm spraying something small or stain, it's the way to go in my mind (I like it for waterborne too). But everything else goes in the pump - less OS and it uses 1/4 the air. The other day I sprayed one side of 40 cabinet doors with the AAA before the compressor kicked back on. I'm lucky to get 8 doors using my 15cfm Devilbiss GTI pressure feed gun before it kicks back on.

If you tell your finisher that you'll pay him by the piece, he'll be all over that Kremlin.

From the original questioner:
That's the kind of feedback I'm looking for. I would like to give him a few examples of the increased productivity based on experience. What did you find to be the biggest learning curve?

From contributor N:
I've been at this a pretty long time (38 years) with most of my finishing work done on site with an airless, so no real learning curve for me with the AAA as I was going from very fast to not so fast. I could see where going from the gun/pot to the AAA, though, would be a jump - the speed, what tips to use, pressure settings for both the air and the gun and a different setting for every material you use. With that said, if you can set up a pneumatic gun to your liking. An AAA gun is no harder and probably easier. It's not rocket science and in fairly short order your finishers should get a handle on it, and love it.

One resource I found valuable is an article on the CAT site with recommended settings for their pneumatic guns and AAA setups for ML Campbell products - tip sizes, fluid pressure and air pressure. Even if you don't use ML Campbell you can use their recommended settings for the similar product you use as a starting point.

From contributor M:
Some things that helped me make the switch were being able to watch another finisher who was well experienced with the Kremlin and observe his technique, and starting out with mostly large flat surfaces to kind of get a feel for it. The biggest thing for me was the shop had a Kremlin set up for paint and they let me spray the primer with it. This was a huge help, as I could really play with it and try different techniques, tips, etc. with really no pressure because it all had to be sanded again anyway and I was the one who had to sand it all, so there was that incentive to do a good job, but also the feedback where I made mistakes. It is always uncomfortable stretching outside your comfort zone, but that's the only way to keep growing. I remember the first time my finishing mentor was going to have me spray the toner and I must have had that deer in the headlights look and he said "well, you didn't come here just to spray primer, did ya?"

Tell your finisher to stick with it, be observant and persevere. Adjust and learn from his mistakes, he'll be a better finisher for it.

From contributor P:
- Not having to refill the cup.
- Being able to spray from any angle.
- Much less bounce back when spraying inside boxes.
- Gun is a fraction of the weight of a full cup gun, so less fatigue and a joy to use.
- Doesn't drip finish all over your work when the cup gasket fails.

Spend some time playing with the tips, air and fluid pressure, etc. to get the fan pattern and atomization that you like.

From contributor R:
I definitely wouldn't call my Sata gravity cup a Yugo. I love the Kremlin system for production spraying in a wood shop. I have yet to walk into an automotive paint shop and see them using the Kremlin. I'm sure they can afford it. I find it doesn't atomize as well as a quality cup gun, but puts on enough mils to look very nice.

I use both systems and find they have their place in our shop. With a 3m PPS system the cup gun is ideal for samples and small jobs that come up every day. Our Superfici Robot uses 4 Kremlin guns and we stain, seal and topcoat with it and we have Kremlin systems for hand application as well as conventional pressure pots which we use for stain and toning.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all your feedback. I'm printing out the responses and will pass them on to the finisher. These are all points that I have mentioned, but when it comes from a group of his peers and not the cabinet guy, I think it will be better received.

From contributor H:
Sata is overpriced but well marketed. It is a high quality gun but pricing is insane for air caps, needles, fluid tips. I would bet money that a Devilbiss or Binks is an absolute equal. As far as learning curve for AA system, spraying vertical, spraying too close to parts versus about eight to ten inches away, you will save about 20 percent on material costs and a bunch on spray booth filters and compressed air usage. I don't believe an air assist is a good fit for a body shop - the paint mix size is way too low.

From contributor A:
Sata guns blow Binks and Devillbis away.

Why does a Yugo have a rear window defroster? To keep your hands warm while you're pushing it. Old Serbian joke I've been waiting for the right time to tell.

From contributor I:
Satas are spendy guns to buy and maintain. I used to own two, but replaced my pressure feed Sata with a Devilbiss GTI mostly because I got the GTI new for I/5 the price ($150.00) of a new Sata, but also because it uses only 2/3 the air and for spraying wood I can't tell a difference in the finished product - perfect from both. I was able to fully outfit the GTi with various nozzles (one needle fits many nozzles) for just over $100.00 e-bay shopping. An empty box from Sata might cost you that much.