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Monday, 17 March 2008 17:00

American Company designs booth for spraying waterborne paint

Made in America is more than just a patriotic slogan. It is an opportunity to spotlight the innovation U.S. manufacturers bring to the table. While conventional paint booth companies are offering retrofitting and add-ons to adapt existing booths for spraying waterborne paint, NorAM Inc. built a booth from the ground up that did not need any changes to embrace new paint technology. And every single part is made in the USA.

After trying equipment made by overseas companies, Brian Kilgore, owner, Buford Collision, Buford, Georgia, was introduced to the NorAM product. Even though this new paint booth bore a higher price than competitors and was not a household name, Kilgore’s experience made him hungry for an American-made unit that could increase his production while lowering his energy bill. Furthermore, he was concerned about prompt delivery of parts. He heard about a shop owner who waited a month for the delivery of a new paint-booth door from an Italian company. This type of setback would kill his business, so Kilgore went searching for a home grown paint booth.
Jack Hughes, a distributor who operates Shop Teks near Atlanta, was in a similar situation. He recommended the new product by NorAM, Inc., a provider since 1995 of high-tech paint booths and related equipment, because he believed the innovative heat units, lighting and exhaust systems were the best in the business and shop owners would save at least 50 percent on their fuel bill for years to come.
And Kilgore was persuaded because the product was “American made in Alabama, so  I knew it would be easy to get new parts in one day. The irony is that we've never had to order any parts because the booth runs so well.”

A modern inventor

Founder and president of NorAM, Inc. Harold Davis has spent his entire career improving the quality and performance of every-day products. Davis became intrigued by the paint booth industry and the technology that could be applied to it. After a career as a successful distributor for other major paint booth manufacturers, Davis spent over 15 years focusing all of his efforts toward making advancements that can benefit the entire painting/refinishing industry. If there are cost-effective ways to improve the performance of a piece of equipment, Davis thoroughly enjoys the challenge of integrating these improvements into NorAM products.

This cutting-edge paint booth technology can increase production by processing vehicles in a shorter time with significantly lower energy costs. The NorAM booth recycles 80 percent of the hot air used to heat the booth whereas other systems continually draw air from outside the unit – a costly process particularly during winter months.
“We developed our system to address waterborne when it was first introduced years ago – much earlier than most booth manufacturers,” explained Davis. “We envisioned a booth that would perform the job without attachments by concentrating the enveloping air flow around the spot on the vehicle causing it to dry faster and take away the hazes. Adding heat further expedites the drying process.
“Our mission was to develop a booth with enough air flow built in so retrofitting would not be necessary. Adding nozzles to existing booths is functional if one has already made a major investment, but for those looking for a new product, we offer a booth capable of doing the job without added complications.”

Keeping the job clean
During the painting process, tiny pieces of airborne debris can adhere to the vehicle’s new surface, necessitating the extra step of buffing out imperfections on each paint job. A second innovation by NorAM makes this step unnecessary. Conventional  systems blow air sideways, causing some debris to fly against the  paint surface. The NorAM booths re-circulate air from the ceiling, creating a downdraft that hits the top of the car and then exits through the floor. This removes overspray and fumes.
“One problem with adding components to existing booths is that inexact velocity causes turbulence which gets dirt on the new finish. The airflow in our booths can be controlled without adding turbulence to the equation. For over twenty years, painters have tried to solve the tubulence problem – and now NorAM has accomplished it,” continued Davis.
Another problem with adding nozzles is that they can cause a rippling effect, thereby creating another buffing step to smooth out the finish.

Seeing the light

A most exciting innovation is a unique lighting system that has to be seen to be believed. Most conventional paint booths light vehicles from the side or floor. But that makes painting difficult because the painter casts shadows and creates glare as he circles the vehicle. As  a result, it can be difficult to test color for evenness and depth.
“NorAM booths are fitted with an indirect 360 degree system, modeled after the photography industry,” added Davis. “The refracted and reflected light render back true colors. There is no squinting from glare which is a common problem for painters.”
The usual response is for painters to keep adding lights, which in turn creates more problems with glare, but Davis discovered a better way. “We consulted with photography companies to come up with a system that would provide maximum light with no glare or shadows. With the high lumen in the booth, a painter can keep his eyes open while working. No more squinting. No more twisting around to try to get a good line of sight. Light comes from everywhere in our booths. Customers are skeptical at first, but once they actually use it, they find out pretty quickly how incredible it is.”

Going green

Concluded Davis, “NorAM’s products can help shops go greener by using 30% less energy. Our paint booth is competitive with any premium booth on the market today. Within dollars, ours is the best value for the money.
“With paint booths, like computers, you can upgrade over and over again, but eventually it is necessary to acquire the newest technology. That’s where NorAM comes in with products that save energy, concentrate heat and air on the vehicle, offer exceptional lighting – and made in the good old USA.

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