Hubert Palfinger Technologies GmbH, a German technology company, has recently presented an automated system for the surface treatment and airless coating of freight ships. The system is called HTC Automated Hull Treatment and allows the coating of up to 1400 m² an hour. It can be operated by four people and the mounting of the system takes about 6 hours. Here are a first video sample of HTC Automated Hull Treatment in action.

Can these automated systems be employed in airless painting?

In the meantime, there are automated systems with which simple large areas can be coated with relatively few employees. The question is whether this technique can be applied to airless painting. The surfaces can be more uneven, there are irregulatiries such as windows, doors or gutters on facades. Inside, windows, doors and radiators. In addition, some other technical problems would have to be overcome, so that airless robots of this type could also be used in classical areas of painting.

Are airless robots conceivable for the painting trade and how would they have to look?

Basically, automated systems are conceivable, but these airless systems would have to recognize surfaces, in order to clearly distinguish which areas are to be spray and which are not. A further problem arises with overspray and the masking of areas which are not to be coated. In addition, airless robots would have to be smaller and more cost-effective than the HTC Automated Hull Treatment System to find application in the painting trade.

Airless robots would have to recognize the surface

The airless robot would have to recognize the surface in order to clearly distinguish which areas should be sprayed and which should be left untouched, otherwise façades or interiors with windows, doors or gutters could not be sprayed with such systems. The recognition could be done in different ways. For example, a façade could be photographed, scanned or otherwise measured, and the system based on these data would decide which areas are to be sprayed. However, an automated system would be better. Certainly not very easy, but considering that now we have face recognition technology it should be technically possible to develop a system that can distinguish between a window and a wall.

The airless robot would have to be able to greatly reduce or mask the color mist

However, detection of the sprayable areas is only the beginning. An automated system would also have to be able to apply the paint in a precise manner without covering window frames, roof edges or entrance doors of a façade with paint mist. Also not exactly an easy task. There are already systems in the market for reducing and avoiding overspray such as heating hose systems, the SpeedShield or special nozzles. However, a great leap would be necessary to develop a functioning automated spraying system for the painting trade.

The airless robot would have to be smaller, more compact and more cost-effective

In addition, the robot would have to be smaller, more compact and more cost-effective than the HTC Automated Hull Treatment System, for such a system to find application in the painting trade. The cost of transporting, setting up, dismantling and technically maintaining such a system would have to be significantly lower than the effort required in the conventional paint application to enable an airless robotic system to get an edge.

So there are still many barriers that need to be overcome to develop an automated airless paint spraying system for the painter’s craft. However, I do not think it is unrealistic that there will be more technology in the future. The development is going on. Around 1950 the color roller was introduced, until then people worked only with brush and tassel. At that time, the roller was too new and modern to many painters, but it quickly became established and is now used by everyone. You never know what is coming.

How would the painter’s profession change with a robot painter?

If one day automated spraying systems could be used in apartments or outdoors on façades, the painter’s profession would probably develop into more specialized and high-quality manual work. Therefore, classical and high-quality handicraft techniques would still be required, but in this case the number of application which could be done automatically would increase dramatically. The painter would be increasingly involved in the operation, handling and maintenance of an automated system or painting robot. Whether this is good or bad everybody has to decide for himself.

But until then it will certainly take some time, in the meantime, here are a few more detailed pictures of the HTC Automated Hull Treatment:

Let us know what you think of it, or let us know if you’ve already built an airless robot in your workshop. Until then, we would be pleased to assist you in our service center, by telephone at +49 (0)30/22015436, via WhatsApp (Tel. +49152-33717195) or by mail via our contact form for all questions about Airless paint spraying equipment.