Achieving a high-quality finish on your manufactured parts requires several spray paint booth components to seamlessly work together. Fans for air flow filtration and paint application equipment are just to name a few. However, an often-overlooked requirement for a truly high-quality finish is proper lighting.
The last thing you want to do is spend the money to repaint apart due to poor lighting… unfortunately, this lesson has been ignored far too often. Some industries, such as aerospace, may not be able to make up for poor quality by adding another coat due to meticulous weight restrictions. Therefore, it is critical for manufacturers to have the proper lighting in their spray paint booths in order to achieve the optimal finish the first time.
While the final quality of the finish is an important consideration for proper lighting setup, there are also other factors to consider. In this article, we examine spray booth lighting options using three factors:
- Finish Quality
- Operational Costs
Lighting can have an impact on the final finish quality, especially if the finish is manually applied by your paint operators. They need to properly see in order to direct the spray pattern towards the areas that require more coating. Even in automated operations, proper lighting may be needed to inspect the final finish quality. Choosing the right lighting for each finishing application requires an understanding of both lighting qualities and lighting options.
Brightness and color can affect how the final finish looks on a particular manufactured part. Light brightness is often measured in foot-candles. In many industries, the standard is 100-150 foot candles at a 3 foot height. This level of illumination allows the color finish to be properly seen and inspected.
The color also impacts how the final finish looks. Full spectrum light can be a good choice, but manufacturers should also note the Color Rendering Index (or CRI number). Rated on a scale of 0-100, and where a rating of 85 or higher is desired, the lighting with a higher CRI is less likely to have color shift or distortion. The chosen lighting solutions should have the right brightness and color rendering for each coating application.
Lighting System Options
Spray booth lighting has two major light sources and three main placement locations. These light sources are either T-8/T-5 fluorescent tubes or LED emitters. We’ll cover the advantages of each later when we discuss operational costs.
These two light sources can be placed in three locations in the spray booth: corners, ceilings and walls. The goal is typically to illuminate the entire area being painted without casting shadows. Corner lights can be more effective at illuminating the bottom of components than wall or ceiling lights. However, they can only be mounted in 90-degree corners, so wall and ceiling lights are used more often. Many spray booths use a combination of locations to illuminate the finished area effectively.
Lighting Safety Codes
In addition to the brightness, coloring and placement, the safety classification of the lighting must be taken into consideration. The spray paint booth contains a hazardous environment, where volatile chemicals are present in the air. Therefore, lighting can be a source of ignition, so the rating of the light fixture must be taken into consideration.
Lighting present in paint spray booths must conform to the national electrical code standards for electrical devices, and depending on the light location, might require a rating of Class I, Division II, Groups A-D. This rating, as well the typical operating temperature, needs to be visible on the lighting source, says OSHA. The operating temperature must be lower than the ignition temperature of the finishing material. Choosing lighting with the proper classification and operating temperature is crucial to the safe operation of a spray paint booth.
Lighting Operating Costs
While lighting solutions must meet certain finish quality and safety criteria, operating costs also have a role to play in the selection. Fluorescent tubes have been a popular choice in the past. They offer non-directional light and are relatively inexpensive. LEDs, on the other hand, are becoming more common and preferred as a light source regardless of the higher expense.
LEDs require much less maintenance, they’re directional for bringing better lighting to the part, and they provide higher efficiency and lower operating costs. LEDs will likely outlast your paint spray booth, as they can last up to 50,000 hours. In contrast, fluorescent tubes require more maintenance than LEDs. As they age, fluorescent tubes lose color and brightness. They need to be regularly replaced if the finish quality is to be protected. While LEDs are a more expensive solution initially, they offer many distinct operating advantages where the expense is returned many times over inefficiencies.
The perfect lighting solution for a spray paint booth optimizes finish quality, safety and operational costs. It ensures that lighting has the proper brightness, color rendering and placement for quality inspections while being compliant with OSHA and other regulations. Don’t let poor lighting affect your painting operation, our expert booth designers will work with you to make sure the solution provides a high-quality finish in a safe environment at a reasonable cost.