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Old 05-12-2005, 11:09 AM
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Static Electricity

Itís been somewhere between 7-10 years ago I did some testing of static electricity and the affect on painting. This was done for a northern company who had come up with an anti-static device.
Now, Iím going by memory so some of the percentages may be off 2-10% but I think you will see, it really donít matter in the end.

At the time I had owned in the area of 70 - 50's-60ís corvettes that I had restored or did paint work on of some sort. I was such a believer that I had a grounding rod in the ground outside the garage with copper cable (4) with hooks on the end so I could ground all four corners of the frame.

The company was good enough to give me a ďStatic charge meteĒ to use. At the time I think this was about an $800 unit.

First test was Fiberglas and SMC on different year Corvettes with all the
anti-stat items (at Mikes corvette center)
We had available at the time.
*Chain from frame to floor.
*Anti stat wax and grease remover
*Ionizing gun
*Static Kleen (wall mount with jumper cables and processor)

Chain to floor did nothing to the vette until about 24 hours and than there was a 2-3% decrease.
The wax and grease remover worked great. (Alcohol base)
Ionizing gun worked great.
Static Kleen after 8 hours had eliminated 15% on the vettes 90% on metal cars of the static.

These figures hold true on all cars tested except for the chain to floor.
After 24 hours the metal bodied car there was a decrease of about 15%.

So we know three of the above items work but do they? No way!
Yes they worked but after going over the car one time with a tack rag 70-75% of the Static was returned;
OK we can skip the tacking.

The next problem was the first coat of paint over the SMC increase the static by over 50% give or take.
The first coat of paint over the metal car increased static 25-30% and every additional coat got worse.

So Milo said it best clean the booth and pray.
Because as soon as you start painting all your previous efforts are for naught!

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Old 05-12-2005, 02:10 PM
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Barry, Thanks for sharing, interesting stuff.
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Old 05-12-2005, 02:12 PM
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BarryK:

Having worked in the electronic field for almost 20 years and having to deal with static electricity all the time, it seems like it shouldn't be hard to get rid of it. I am sure everything you said is true, and I have not tried to get rid of SE on a car. In some ways it is not the elimination of SE, but making everything have the same potentional. Meaning if something has a static charge of some value then you make every thing have that value. With everything at the same value their is no difference and nothing wants to find a ground and a path for it to follow. It then has a non static charge = 0

I am not sure if that makes sense or not.

I would guess the hardest thing would be eliminating the air from creating a static charge with the paint moving through the air. wonder if you could paint in a vacuum?
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Old 05-12-2005, 02:21 PM
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when you paint in a vacuum it sucks the paint off of the car and back into the gun.
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Old 05-12-2005, 02:33 PM
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I wonder what the factory's do to keep the problem in check for painting? Big robot with a static fly swatter or something.
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Old 05-12-2005, 02:56 PM
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I did read years ago that they have controls in place in Manufacturing be it additives or ionized rooms I don't have a clue as did not pay much attention to it at the time.

Air from the gun is the killer, paint roller?
Alcohol mist spraying on the intake filters?
Ionized air flow?

Now that I think about it it could be corrected but guess no one considers it an issue in this part of the industry.

Edit,
Another thing I thought of is manufacturing as a whole usually has a more controlled environment for finishing and that is really not the case for body shops.

Last edited by BarryK; 05-12-2005 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 05-12-2005, 04:23 PM
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Couple of differnt ways would be a charged air intake and/or charged exhaust exhaust grid or filters.

You might be able to put the static charges to work for it. Sort of like powder coating with + and - charged gun and car.

I am sure there are other things that could be tried too.

Nanobots or some star trek thing.... Or I guess I should say STARWARS since the last one starts soon.
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Old 05-12-2005, 06:24 PM
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I don't know if this would help, but I work on electronic boards all the time and we always connect a ground wire to the unit container or board to our wrist that stops the static so we don't cause SE on the boards when working on them. Would it make it better to do this when painting a car? It is just a THHN #18 wire with a copper wrist band and small clamp.
30dee
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Old 05-12-2005, 08:02 PM
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That is exactly what the article on the Wescott web site says to do.

Vince
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Old 05-12-2005, 08:42 PM
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OK. But how you gona deal with the wire and all the other "stuff" AND paint a car??

I'm thinking that humidity controll would be a BIG help in reducing SE.
We deal with it in HVAC all the time and humidity IS a big part of reducing SE.
I could go drag my psycometric charts out and figure it up for ya, but it's a "sliding" scale basically,dependant on the ambient temp vs RH (relative humidity) in other words,
Dry bulb vs wet bulb.

The lower the ambient temp,the lower the RH can be before you start getting zapped. The higher the ambient, The higher the RH has to be to prevent it.
SO, If your painting in a room that's 80* and the RH is say 35%,You are going to have SE out the wazoo. 80* room and 65% and it's basicaslly non existent.

My $1.295's worth.
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Old 05-12-2005, 09:16 PM
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well we should be in great shape in the gulf coast area. I don't think we every get less than 70% humidty. Most of the time its 90%+. Thats why rust will almost happen right before you eyes.
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Old 05-13-2005, 05:11 AM
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I never thought a chain connected to the car and laying on a wet floor
was much. When I grounded my car I used a long soft copper wire with
no insulation like you can get at Home Depot for several dollars.
I connected alligator clips to both ends, connected one end to the
battery negative post (it's the best conn) and connected the other
end to my compressor on a spot thats grounded good. The wire also
layed on the wet floor. I never could tell much difference though.
But hey, it can't hurt.
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Old 05-14-2005, 10:20 PM
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Barry, so let me get this straight, there is little you can do about it but a water borne surface cleaner is one of the best things?

Brian
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Old 05-15-2005, 04:20 AM
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Brian,

It does, if it an Alcohol base.
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Old 05-15-2005, 10:44 AM
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As said humidity is a big issue but you need high humidity to kill static electricity and that's not good for painting. As said conecting you to the car gives you = potential and that means you don't discharge. In building computer boards we try and eliminate SE as much as possible but in the end a grounding pad and wrist strap are the best thing possible. I am not sure what the problem here is though? If the booth is vented the concentration of fuems is not likely to explode even if you lit a match so if that's the concern then VENT the booth or am I off the boat here? Is there another issue? In Louisiana with our drinkable air SE is not a big problem.
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