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As the market for polyurethane and polyurea coatings continues to expand, so do the demands for specialist equipment to deal with high performance coatings.

Some manufacturers of polyurethane and polyurea coatings say buyers are moving towards specialised equipment that will do one job well, but machines able to deal with varying constituents remain popular with markets such as shipyards, where painters want to be able to run different coatings through the same machinery.

Kits are now more portable and reliable than in the past, and though the entry level of equipment for small companies has come down, it still remains a sizeable investment.

VARIABLE RATIOS
Equipment is not cheap, so buyers have to choose carefully from a wide range of machines. Plural component spray equipment is divided between variable and fixed ratio machines, and though there have been some moves towards harmonising component ratios, variable ratios obviously offer more flexibility. Variable ratio equipment also brings a faster return on investment compared with older, possibly antiquated fixed ratio systems. Modern equipment is also very user-friendly.

STABLE MARKET
The market is dominated by a relatively small number of equipment makers. Peter Bloem of Graco’s Advanced Fluid Technologies Division says they have maintained a market leading position through working with distributors, and providing users with complete packages: “Training our distribution partners on installing
and training our end customer is paramount. Together with our distributor, we deliver
everything needed, including training for applicators.

“There is still growth throughout the paint industry. Demand for spray equipment from shipyards, after being held back by the slow-down in the market, is now starting to pick up as yards attract more work, and the marine market is not saturated.

“Across the whole market there is increasingly a demand for high performance coatings and the systems to apply them. The cost of such coatings motivates applicators to invest in equipment that will spray on ratio every time. We are seeing people interested in making sure they have the right equipment for the job.
“Graco has a wide selection of sprayers for protective coating applications, including
bridges. Our high performance, next generation spray equipment has a model of sprayer designed for each specific coating need. We offer from heavy duty, light weight, cordless sprayers for a wide range of protective coatings, to a turnkey system for polyurea waterproof coating and lining. Our purposely engineered range of sprayers enables applicators to find the right sprayer from a bridge to a ship.”

Graco’s equipment systems include the EXTREME MIX (XM), a standard package that can be configured to the needs of the applicators, with proportioner, pumps, feeder  pumps, spray gun and hoses that can supply the spraygun at up to 95 metres.

Bloem continues; “A big advantage with this equipment is the ability for a painter to go from one type of coating to another on the same equipment, as it can deliver variable ratios. This is when the overall return on investment starts paying off. The Painter with the XM has the ability to take on more projects.”

NEW EQUIPMENT

“Another industry game changer is the Graco XM PFP” says Bloem. The system is fully approved for explosive atmospheres, and delivers passive fire protection with epoxy intumescents.

The sprayer is the first complete system to receive ATEX and IECEx certification for use in explosive atmospheres, and is rated for both electrical and mechanical construction, making it suitable for offshore refineries, liquid natural gas facilities, petrochemical plants and industrial manufacturing facilities. Features include display of constituent ratio readings in real time, a USB drive for data reporting and displays of current tank levels and spray temperatures.

Like most current equipment, digital inputs and outputs offer precise control. Setting of ratios on the new equipment is done by weight, after a calibration process programs the machine for the specific materials being used – this avoids  any need for tank pressure or temperature tweaking for accurate weight checks. Closedloop technology adjusts the heaters to achieve optimum spray performance in even extreme conditions. It also provides accountability with the ability to download data for every job.

Meantime, the Graco e-Xtreme Electric Airless Sprayer is the first Atex Zone 1 approved electric sprayer for protective coatings approved for hazardous locations. It operates on a more reliable, convenient and available electric power source, which improves jobsite inefficiencies associated with compressors. The electric technology eliminates pulsation and motor icing. “The cost of compressed air versus the cost of electricity on Zone 1 job sites makes the e-Xtreme a viable investment”, continues Bloem. “On March first, Graco EMEA will release the new range of King airless pneumatic sprayers.

The Graco King sprayers are the most powerful machines for protective coatings. The system provides the applicator output values, pressure ratios and pumping capacities never seen before.

“The King units are designed to withstand the harshest environmental conditions and easily handle the toughest protective coatings and corrosion control applications. With 10 different ratios available, there is a sprayer with the correct pressure and flow characteristics for any application”, he concludes.

GROWTH AREAS

Italian equipment manufacturer, Magme Macchine says the local PU market is growing quickly, particularly in the construction industry.

Sales Manager Marcus Quirino says part of the reason is the green tax breaks offered to property developers; “The market is increasing year by year thanks to an incentive taxes programme. In Italy, owners can save up to 65% on refurbishments to improve the thermal insulation grade of houses.

The ideal choice in these cases is to use PU spray foam, because it can be applied, without thermic  bridges, on slabs, floors under roofs, under tiles, backing walls, and double walls. It also has dimensional stability, is corrosion proof, and very low thermal conductivity value. “Polyurea spray is also growing alongside that, mainly for roofing and flooring: it is the definitive solution for waterproofing. It gives a continuous waterproof layer without any joint or welding point; so all possible points of check and leakage are avoided; moreover in few seconds it is walkable and is cured in some minutes.”

Quirino stresses the importance of proper application by trained applicators: “The skills needed are not just the ability to use the equipment, but also to correctly handle certified raw chemical products and to take in mind also other aspects like weather condition, moisture grade of substrate, temperature of substrate etc. No unpreparedness is allowed.”

Magme Macchine has a wide range of equipment. Its MS series variable ratio machine delivers from 6 to 22 kg per minute output at high pressure using self-cleaning mixing heads. The machines deliver rigid and flexible expanded foams, adhesives, and coatings with elastomers and PU. The MS LC series fixed ratio machine delivers 4 to 9 kg per minute. Both are hydraulically driven for reliability at high duty cycles and output.

SMART MACHINE

Mageme’s Smart Machine is a manoeuvrable air driven machine with constant pressure. Quirino continues: “The choice between MS and MSLC depends on the contractor. What I can say is that, even nowadays the 90% of chemical formulation (PU and PUA) is a fixed ratio of 100:100. It is not certain of that in the future, with ever more specific formulations for both polyurethane and polyurea, so it is necessary to have machines with a variable ratio. On the other hand, the fixed ratio

has an interesting price – lower than variable – and so the investment pay off is very short.” Manufacturer GAMA’s new GDI Mechanical Purge Spray Gun includes a mechanical selfcleaning system designed to give an excellent mixing quality for Polyureas, chemical systems for polyurethane foaming and some twocomponent epoxy systems. It offers flows of 0.5 Kg/minute to 18 Kg/minute and different fan shapes and widths for finishing quality in “in situ” and industrial applications.

The company’s Polyurea and Elastomers proportioning machinery, Easy Spray Hydraulic, is a portable unit, with product tanks on a wheeled chassis and a touch screen control panel to facilitate selection and control of all working parameters. A sophisticated alarm system warns the operator of any error in the process.

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