When you’re a professional painter, choosing the right tools for the job is every bit as important as your paint skill. From knowing which type of bristle material is best to which type of clear coat gives the most protection and shine, the tools of your chosen craft are integral to your success.
So it’s no wonder that the people making the very paint you use – the chemists, mixers, and manufacturers – rely on a tool set that is every bit as varied and versatile as the tools you use when painting. From glossometers to spectrophotometers, from haze meters to grind gages, the tools and test measurement equipment used in paint factories around the world are how you know that the paint you’re using is as close to perfect as possible.
One of the most essential tools in paint manufacturing, both in factories and in paint stores, is the paint disperser. A paint disperser is an industrial tool used to mix and homogenize paint and additives, primarily taking clumpy powders and rapidly mixing them into paints and coatings. Unlike hand mixers or even old-fashioned stir sticks, paint dispersers are built to provide predictable and repeatable mixes for years on end. Whether thinning a paint out to the proper consistency or adding a protective agent into the mix, paint disperses take each of the finely-tuned ingredients of a paint recipe and produce an exacting mix.
Choosing the correct paint disperser is much like choosing any other piece of industrial equipment. Depending on your purpose and desired frequency of use, the available options in paint dispersion equipment are extensive. Here are a few suggestions to consider when choosing a paint disperser:
1. Consider mixing speed. Dispersers have a blade that physically mixes the materials in the vessel. Unlike an agitator that might be used for thinning paint, a disperser is used to break down thick materials (like powdered additives) and mix them into a paint. Different liquids, resins, and additives obviously have different viscosities and thicknesses. Much like mixing the ingredients used to bake a cake or loaf of bread, mixing too quickly or too slowly won’t produce the desired results in the final mixture. As such, make sure the blade and range of speeds your materials respond to can be accomplished by your chosen disperser. For example, a high-speed disperser may not be a good choice for thicker materials that need to be mixed slowly and for longer periods of time. Conversely, a fine silica used to increase paint hardness will likely need to be dispersed into automotive paint at a high speed in order to mix well enough that it won’t adversely affect the gloss and clarity of the paint.
2. Consider vessel size. Dispersers come with vessels (think of a large bowl) where materials are added to be mixed together. If you need to mix large batches of paint (for painting an entire building, for example) a larger vessel would be a good investment so you can produce a large batch of paint all at once. Conversely, if you only need to produce small batches for test purposes or other custom applications (such as a one-time custom paint job on a motorcycle gas tank), choose a disperser with a smaller vessel. Aside from reduced cost, a smaller vessel is easier to clean between use and easier to manage during the dispersion process. Regardless of size, the vessel should be round with a curved or sloped bottom to ensure consistent mixture and reduce the chance that materials will clump and collect in places not reached by the blade or agitator.
3. Consider blade size. Most dispersers call for a blade that is between 1/4 and 1/3 the diameter of the vessel. A blade that is too large isn’t likely to collect and mix all materials, while a blade that is too small is likely to provide an inconsistent mix. Furthermore, the size of the blade determines the amount of force required to mix the materials, which directly impacts the resources needed (i.e. energy consumption) to operate the disperser successfully. A thinner or less viscous liquid like wood stain requires a larger diameter blade, while a thicker liquid like interior epoxy requires a smaller diameter blade to properly disperse any additives.
Industrial and commercial dispersers are crucial in making paint production possible. When scientists and chemists determine what quantities of what materials are necessary for a certain paint to be manufactured, they know that a large-scale mixer will play a vital role in repeating that mixture over and over again. Choosing the right disperser comes down to knowing how much paint or mixture you need to produce at any given time, and knowing the characteristics of the ingredients you will be mixing. The tips above should help you as you decide which paint disperser is best for your organization. Click here to learn more about the tools available to help you make, test, and apply paint!