The Graco King airless spray unit, after enjoying 60 years as the industry standard, has been relaunched in a new and improved form.
It’s fair to say that Graco, having invented the market for airless sprayers, have continued to set the standard. Applicators who have worked long in the industry are fiercely loyal.
The new version comes in three sizes, each incorporating small but important improvements over previous models. A re-designed air valve is probably the most significant.
Experienced applicators are well familiar with the problem of jammed pistons caused by internal icing, a more or less inevitable result of continual compression/decompression and vapourization ofair . The usual solution on all airless machines, long approved by the manufacturers, is a sharp tap with a hammer on top of the unit to dislodge the piston.
Some may now miss that ritual. Graco have re-engineered the air valve to include an external pilot line made of flexible material that can be easily be disconnected with one hand and closed off with the thumb. It achieves the same effect more quickly and easily. Experienced users at the Graco launch event greeted the improvement with wise nods of professional approval.
Other improvements such as thermally isolated poppets, and a solid guard protecting the piston, are the result of extensive user feedback. With an estimated 10,000 applicators in Europe and the Middle East alone, Graco have not been short of advice.
The King sprays high-solid, 100% solid, abrasive and even plural component coatings. It is designed to deal with a wide variety of applications and industries, including application of primers, enamels, and viscous, high solid epoxies. Graco expect to see the unit in use across most sectors, including construction, marine, oil and gas, general fabrication, and vehicle manufacture.
All in the name
Business Development coordinator Peter Bloem, completing a continent-hopping series of launch events, says: “The name King has become almost generic. Its like a Hoover – you’ll often hear people saying ‘ we have a King’ even if the unit is an NXT or a different brand . We don’t mind. We’re quite happy for people to get started in the business with a competitive brand – they come to us when it’s time to upgrade.
“Graco pretty much invented airless spraying 60 years ago with the first King, and this is now the third major version. We’ve thought carefully about this new machine and had plenty of input from our loyal users across the world.
“There was talk about changing the name to something we could protect but we decided in the end that everyone knows what a King is, and even users of copy machines aspire to getting the real thing. The response to our launch seems to confirm it was the right decision.
“We don’t sell direct, only through a network of about 3000 trusted distributors worldwide. They are local and they can provide much better on-the-ground after sales support than we could hope to do.”
Ready for abuse
Spray machines inevitably come if a fair amount of abuse in the real world, with shipyards having a name for testing their build quality. Bloem continues: “We know these machines are going to get knocked around a bit when they are out on the side of a dock, or out on site – or even in a spray-booth. We have built these to be tough and we give them a 2-year warranty.
“People have been particularly happy to hear about the new way of clearing blockages. Icing will occur in any airless sprayer no matter what the outside temperature is. We’re telling them that the thumb now replaces the hammer.”
Less chance of icing
Another common problem with airless spray units is the poppet valve, which controls the critical air flow during operation. Graco have now thermally isolated the poppets on larger models from the motor castings, which often drop below freezing. The newly designed poppets and external pilot lines virtually eliminate pilot valve freezing, reducing icing potential by up to 70%.
King sprayers also feature a new air motor that provides sharp, smooth changeovers and low pulsation – even while operating multiple guns. Graco says there is now almost no perceivable pulsation.
The King comes in 3 models: XL3400, XL6500 or XL10000. Output per cycle varies between 180 cc and 430 cc; output at 60 cycles per min varies between 11 and 25.5 liters per minute. Maximum working pressure is 500 bar/7250 Psi.
The pressure drum operates at 7000 psi/482 bar, enough to power one nozzle at up to 300 or 400 feet (90 to 120 meter). At shorter distances the unit can run several nozzles. The bigger models in the range can handle 6 nozzles, while allowing each separate nozzle to be independently flushed.
Packings, which play a critical role in optimizing spray performance by sealing pressure and holding material inside the pump, have been redesigned. These now have tighter seals with enhanced edge loading, and seven throat packings instead of five.
Stephan Rindfleisch, Product Marketing Manager at Graco concludes: “From the very beginning, we designed the new King from the idea of providing our customers the best airless protective coating sprayer; one that can handle any material on any jobsite, that doesn’t stop or ice up and only requires simple maintenance”.