What Is Electrostatic Painting And How Does It Work?

Electrostatic Painting
Here we take a look at a little known technique for paint spraying – Electrostatic. This system is only for metal painters as it requires a static charge to be passed through substrates to enable the paint to stick and wrap around an object. As this technique attracts paint to the object you are painting it can also drastically reduce overspray and wasted paint potentially saving you money in a busy paint shop.

What Is Electrostatic Painting?
Put simply it is a method of applying a coating to a substrate that uses positive and negative electrons so that the paint is attracted to the substrate and causes far less overspray than traditional spray painting.
So how do you get the paint to become electrostatically charged? There is a powerpack that sends an electric current through the nozzle and then when the paint is moving through the tip, it flows against the side and gains a negative charge. The substrate then needs to be attached to the power pack via another wire (clean earth cable) that gives the metal substrate a positive charge. This then causes the negative electrons in the paint to be attracted to the positive coatings in the substrate.

The Best Way To Spray Curved Items
As you can imagine, this painting system is perfect for spraying curved surfaces and small intricate parts where large amounts of overspray are common. If you take a metal cylinder as the example, negatively charged paint wraps around the cylinder, making the painting job much faster and so much more efficient than usual. More paint is attracted to the substrate and less paint becomes overspray, the overall paint usage is a lot less and, so in turn, the paint costs shrink dramatically.
Get a visual view of how electrostatic painting works by viewing this video:

How Much Does Electrostatic Painting Cost?
Although this system requires an upfront investment, the return on investment can be huge and swift. Industry big boys in the plant and machinery sector such as Volvo and JCB have stated paint costs have been reduced by a whopping 20%. Personal experience has shown clients who before investing in the electrostatic equipment were painting one large steel structure in a single night shift. After purchasing the electrostatic spray system, this output increased to four structures in a whole night shift. You can only imagine the reduction in costs but also the paint shop & production efficiencies that this company experienced as a result of moving over to electrostatic spray painting!

Does Electrostatic Improve Finish?
Another benefit beside cost saving is that the finish achieved will be much better looking because the paint is more evenly distributed across the surface and the finish is much more uniform. The charged particles tend to wrap or overlap onto a surface in a uniform attraction therefore ensuring that your substrate will achieve a very good wet film thickness rating which is key for long lasting, durable paint finishes.

Electrostatic Precautions
There are, however, a few precautions that you need to be wary of when using electrostatic spraying. One of the most common issues is for the paint to spray back and be attracted to the painter (the closest earth contact available) and not the required substrate! To solve this issue, a top tip is to invest in electrostatic gloves (view: with a metal strip on the palm to ground the painter and eliminate spray back.
Another problem is what is called the faraday effect. This is when the painter is tasked with coating tight internal corners or channels, inside flanges etc, as the paint is attracted to the nearest earthed point, the paint doesn’t actually reach the internal points, however most of the new guns have the button on the rear of the gun to switch the electrostatic mode off for these awkward areas on structures.

Author Bio | Andy Potts is a business writer, industrial paint, spray equipment, automotive and finance specialist. Further information can be found at Ultrimax Coatings -

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