Using the example of a customer project, the coating of the hull of a 30 m long boat, we show the possibilities, advantages and disadvantages of airless spray painting for boats. In this blog, we explain if and how it is possible to spray fiberglass, steel and wooden boats with Airless spray painting equipment.
First, here is an example of airless boat spraying done by a customer in Berlin using a Graco airless sprayer.
Can steel, fiberglass and wood boats and ships be sprayed with Airless?
Boats and ships made of steel, fiberglass-reinforced plastic and wood can be painted very well with an airless sprayer. Each lacquer and paint is accompanied by a data sheet, similar to the package insert for medicines, which contains important information on application.
For example, how to prepare the surface to be coated, which nozzle and pressure to use, and how much power the airless sprayer must have to ensure optimal paint application. This data sheet can usually be found online or the paint supplier should be able to provide it. If in doubt, we will be happy to help you.
What are the advantages of coating boats with an airless sprayer ?
In shipbuilding, as well as in the service and maintenance of boats and barges, airless technology has certain advantages. Many areas of a ship’s hull or bilge are difficult to access and tortuous. With an airless device, these areas can also be coated in a professional manner.
In addition to the physical relief, it also saves time, which is why many professional painters use this spraying technique and thus work much more economically than with a roller and brush. Freight ships and container ships are also sprayed. In addition, the airless process allows for thicker layers to be applied per operation than with rollers and brushes.
The advantages of the airless process summarized:
- Fast and economical paint application (high quality)
- Higher layer thickness per operation (if desired, can be controlled by choice of nozzle and working method)
- Better accessibility of angular and hard-to-reach surfaces (e.g. hull, bilge)
- Comfortable working and physical relief
- Beautiful surface finish without brushes or structures
However, there are a few points to consider when using airless. On the one hand, environmental and health protection must be taken into account. This includes, for example, work protection and the wearing of protective equipment such as a breathing mask suitable for the material used.
Outdoor areas should be covered so that paint residues are not released into the environment. In the case of two-component materials with a particularly short drying time, the processing time must be taken into account in order to prevent the material from hardening in the airless device.
Disadvantages of airless spraying summarized:
- A little more cover work
- Respiratory protection
- Higher costs for the purchase and operation of the spraying technique (but quickly amortized by the saving of working time)
Advice for a 30 m long steel houseboat project
In the video above, you can see some footage of a project in Berlin with a 30 m long houseboat converted into a houseboat. For the routine acoustic examination, the steel boat was brought to the dry dock in Rummelsburg Bay. There, the algae and shellfish vegetation was first removed with a powerful high-pressure cleaner.
Then, repair and welding work was done on the steel body and the anodes were replaced. The hull was then sprayed with an airless device. During the preparation, the upper part of the boat and the solar panels mounted on the side were covered with a protective plastic over a width of about 1 meter. The side section was then sprayed with a two-component paint.
The team had previously always done the work by hand with a roller and brush and was pleasantly surprised by the speed of the work and the possible layer thickness. Even edge areas, welds and areas exposed to corrosion could be coated completely and without losing time.
For the underside of the barge, an extension was used, which made it possible to comfortably process large areas from the side without the employees having to crawl under the boat.
What type of sprayer to choose for painting boats ?
The materials used for coating boats and ships made of steel, GRP or wood can have very different characteristics (e.g. viscosity, solids content). For this reason, different airless spraying equipment is used depending on the application and the material. Here are some examples of airless equipment used by our customers.
Graco ST MAX II 495 PC Pro
The Graco ST Max II 495 PC Pro, for example, is used by a boat rental company for motor yachts up to 20 feet and barges. Beforehand, we checked the materials to make sure that the performance of this rather small airless sprayer was sufficient for the paints to be applied. The advantage is that the Graco 495 is powered by 230 V, is compact and can be used in a mobile way.
In addition, the Airless has been equipped with a paint funnel and a short hose, which makes it possible to apply small amounts of paint economically. The shorter product path also has some advantages for 2K materials with short drying times.
The Graco ST Max II 495 PC Pro can also be used by yacht clubs and sailing clubs, as the acquisition costs are quickly recouped through regular use thanks to the time saving and more professional coating.
Graco Ultra Max II 1095 PC Pro
If the product has a higher viscosity or solids content, more power is required. If the sprayer still needs to be mobile and requires no additional compressed air, the Graco Ultra Max II 1095 PC Pro is the answer.
With a flow rate of 4.5 liters per minute, this sprayer is significantly more powerful than the Graco ST Max II 495 PC Pro.
Graco KING XL70-180 (70:1)
If even more power is needed, the Graco King 70:1 can be used. This compressed air piston pump delivers up to 11 liters per minute and a maximum pressure of 500 bar. A powerful compressor is required for the drive and, at around 110 kg, this airless device also takes up considerably more space than the previously mentioned spray devices.
This is why this spray painting device is mainly used in medium and large shipyards.
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Questions or queries ?
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