In early 2007, Dubois Wood Products decided to switch from high-pressure, air-assisted spray guns to pressure-feed spray guns from Dux Area Inc. The Huntingburg, Ind., manufacturer of hospitality and dormitory furniture, as well as kitchen cabinet doors, had expanded its finishing line and wanted to look at spray-gun options for its top coat, sealer, no wipe and non-grain raising (NGR) systems.
The plant manager saw an ad and article for Dux Area guns in a trade magazine, and asked Ron Kemp, finish room supervisor and production manager, to learn more about them. He contacted Dux and a sales rep came to the Dubois facility.
After an assessment of Dubois' finishing needs, several consultations and the resolution of problems such as "blotchiness," Dubois decided to convert its entire finishing operation to Dux guns, and bought 14. The main selling point, says Kemp, was the amount of savings Dubois achieved with the new guns.
A new technology
Dux developed the guns in conjunction with a car racing expert, who had spent more than 20 years discovering ways to optimize how fuel is atomized and mixes with air inside a car engine. He incorporated many of those principles into the original spray gun design.
The result is "laminar airflow technology," which is moving air in a single column without creating turbulence. The technology takes lower pressure air, moves it in a single direction and focuses it on the air cap. The results are better finish quality, lower material use and high transfer efficiency. Dux offers this technology in pressure-feed, gravity-feed and automatic guns, which can be used for a range of applications and materials.
Kemp identifies five ways that the guns have improved operations at Dubois Wood Products.
Material savings. "The biggest selling point to us, where we just went full blast toward those guns, was the amount of savings we got," Kemp says. "We were spraying with the high-pressure, air-assisted gun at 128 ounces a minute, and dropped it down to 16 ounces per minute with that gun and had the same coverage."
Kemp says they saved so much in materials that they decided to add another coat of sealer; they now do two sealer coats and one topcoat.
Ease of use. The guns work basically like any other gun, Kemp says, with a fan and fluid adjustments. The micrometer is a plus, he says, because it enables employees to easily set the gun to match the application. "It's almost like a pre-programmed gun," he says. "You turn it right where you had it before and you get the same application you did the time before."
Employees were initially reluctant to try the Dux guns because they were used to the old equipment. "It didn't take very long," Kemp says. "Within a day or two, they loved them. Not only did they spray a lot better, there's hardly any overspray." Filters now only need to be changed at the day's end.
Dubois didn't have to change any finishing materials when it switched to the new guns. "We used everything we used before," Kemp says.
Versatility. The one thing Kemp likes most about the Dux guns is their versatility. The guns have interchangeable parts, which makes for easy shifting between applications and materials. "Top coat and seals would use a different air cap, different nozzle than no-wipe would," he says. "I could take a no-wipe gun down to top coat, switch out the air cap and the nozzle, and use it. You could interchange the parts with the guns and they work great."
Consistent finish. The gun applies the material more evenly than the previous equipment, Kemp says. Dubois salespeople noticed the improved quality immediately, and informed customers of the changes. "They told them it was coming and they recognized it when they saw it," he says.
Customer service. Kemp says Dux is quick to respond to problems. When Dubois bought the guns, one had a minor leaking problem. Kemp says someone from Dux arrived the next day to fix it. Another time, Kemp sent Dux a gun that had been damaged at Dubois and needed repairs. They sent back a new gun at no cost.
When Dux made improvements to the guns, they contacted Kemp and sent him replacement parts. When Kemp had a little trouble replacing the parts, the company sent all new guns via next-day air.
Dubois plans to buy more guns when it reactivates a finish line in another plant. "We're extremely busy, so at that point I'll be replacing those (old guns) with all new Dux guns," Kemp says.
For more information, visit www.duxarea.com or call 888.389.2732.
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