Airless Spray Tips Made Simple - A Step-by-Step Guide to Choose the Right Tip
XHD. FFLP. LP. The list goes on…
When it comes to spray tip varieties, things can get confusing.
Not only does the tip determine how much fluid will leave the gun when you pull the trigger, but the spray tip also determines how wide a spray fan the gun will create. Then, comes the question of whether the material you’re using will successfully atomise with the sprayer/tip combination that you’ve got.
This all adds up. Ultimately, your spray tip selection will either ease or add to the difficulty and cost of achieving that professional level you require.
So, in an effort to bring some clarity without the need for a science degree, let’s break it down.
Here are the 3 key steps to choosing the right tip:
Material specs and orifice size.
This is a quick one. Simply, make sure that you size the spray tip according to the tip rating of your sprayer.
Make sure that the sprayer can support the tip you are planning to use. If you plan on using multiple spray guns on your job, pick a tip size that matches the multiple gun tip rating of your sprayer.
2. Material Specs and Orifice Size
Choose a tip with an orifice size rated for the paint or coating you’ll be spraying.
Light coatings such as lacquers, stains, and enamels require a small tip, while heavier coatings such as membranes and textures require larger spray tips.
What does that code mean?
Our range of Graco spray tips is identified by a three-digit code – example FFLP312.
The first number, when multiplied by 2, indicates the fan the tip will create when sprayed at a distance of 12 inches from the surface – a 312 creates a 6-inch fan.
The remaining two numbers indicate how much fluid will leave the spray tip via a measure of orifice size, in thousandths of an inch – 312 has a 0.012-inch orifice.
These two figures combine to determine how much paint output you’ll be spraying. Paints that have a lower viscosity, will require a smaller orifice in comparison with more viscous paints that will require a larger orifice to atomise the paint.
If you have a thin material with too large an orifice, the spray tip will flood the surface resulting with runs and drips.
If your material is too viscous for a small orifice, the fan will produce undesired tails (see image below) and may constantly block due to flow restriction.
Left: Quality Finish. Right: Finish with Tails
This is why you should check out the specs sheet for the material you’re using.
Many paint manufacturers will specify recommended spray tip sizes on the container or product specification sheet.
Recommended tip sizes for common materials:
One last note for this section. Your filters matter.
Filter size, material viscosity and flow rate all have an intimate relationship.
If you're spraying a thicker material, it will require a larger mesh otherwise the flow rate of your sprayer will be hindered, the paint won't atomise, and you'll be revisiting the tails image above.
From Graco's two filter sizes, distinguished by colour: 60 micron (black) and 100 micron (blue), here's your cheatsheet:
Relating to the common materials list above, any material exceeding the viscosity of a water-based enamel (or similar) requires a black filter. For enamels and thinner, a blue is recommended.
3. Tip Wear
Want to save yourself hundreds of dollars a day?
Replace your tips regularly.
This may not seem like a key consideration, but like everything else that you work with, spray tips wear. And it can have a major cost.
Below you can see examples of three fans at differing levels of wear. You’ll notice that as a spray tip wears, the fan reduces but it continues to spray the same quantity material. If your 6-inch fan reduces by half, it means that you are doubling the number of passes and in turn doubling the quantity of material used.
Essentially, less fan means more passes. More passes mean for time and material. More time and material mean more cost.
I’m not sure what you’re paying for material and labour, but I imagine that you’d prefer to invest in $60-$90 more frequently than the hundreds of dollars on unnecessary expenses that take away from your bottom line.
So, keep this in mind when buying your tips.
There you are. The three-step guide for tip selection.
Related: Graco Comprehensive Tip Selection
If you’ve got questions or are unsure which tip is best for you, get in touch with our experienced team! We will do our absolute best to find the best suitable tip for your application.
The GO Team.
- Tags: Contractor
- Paul Morgan