HVLP and the Evolution of Spray Guns

For many of you, having an HVLP spray gun is a part of your regular arsenal when it comes to maintaining your car or working on your own personal projects at home. Though what is the difference between HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) spray guns and conventional spray guns? And why would you even need one? To begin, HVLP spray guns are the most efficient spray guns available to complete projects.

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How HVLP Spray Guns Work

This type of spray gun releases more air at a higher volume, yet with a lower pressure so that the paint is transferred exactly where you want it to go without most of it being wasted, as was typically the case with conventional spray guns. That means that when you’re working on your car you will get more even paint coverage since you’ll be able to better control exactly where the paint is going. You’ll also be breathing in less harmful chemicals! For those of you passionate about long term auto careers, then you’ll most likely become familiar with HVLP spray guns throughout the course of your career.

How did the spray gun evolve from a conventional tool to the high volume low pressure (HVLP) model that is primarily used today?

Early Spray Guns

Firstly, to understand the HVLP spray gun, it is best to get an idea about how it has evolved within the auto industry. It is also essential to know that in the early days most painting was done by hand with a paint brush. That also includes painting early cars, i.e. horse-drawn wagons and horseless carriages. You can see how creating a spray gun became a necessity as it would take up to a month for a complete paint job. Although the HVLP spray gun has been around since the 1930s, it became more popular during the 1990s due to environmental laws in California setting limits on the amount of VOCs that could be used in spray paint. Those changes in the environmental laws brought about the popularity of the models that are currently used as the standard in spray painting.

In contrast, conventional spray guns, which are still used by many auto mechanics hesitant to change, use basic high pressure that atomizes the spray resulting in fine particles that give the finished product a smooth finish. However, despite the great finish given with the conventional spray gun, most of the product being used ends up released in the air, which results in environmental pollution and wasted material. Hence the need for and the current popularity of HVLP spray guns.

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What’s Available on the Market Today?

There are three different types of HVLP spray guns on the market: siphon feed, gravity feed and pressure feed. To simplify, the siphon feed spray gun holds the cup on the bottom and the gravity feed spray gun holds the cup at the top. The pressure feed HVLP spray gun is the most commonly used and efficient spray gun available.

Since spray gun technology improves on a regular basis it is always a good idea to test a new spray gun every few years to see how they are evolving and improving. Anything that you can do to improve your technique will be beneficial in the long run. Taking automotive painting courses is also a great way to improve, particularly if you are making the change from using a conventional spray gun to a HVLP model.

Check out this video for more tips of the HVLP spray gun in action!

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