New Year, New Ideas. How a Brainstorm Can Lead to a New Product
Since we are in a new year —a new beginning— let me talk about how new products evolve and come to market at Apollo Sprayers and at TheFinishingStore.com.
New products just don’t appear. It starts when we isolate a particular need or one of us has an idea. Often an idea comes from our consumers. They will write or call us with a suggestion. We consider every idea that comes to us. We constantly review our markets, look at our products and think how we can take something that is already successful and make it even better. This process can begin a year or more before a product comes to market. Every once in a while something is just so simple that it can be implemented immediately. Let me give you an example of each.
We have always looked at ways to store and hold a spray gun safely on our turbine systems. Our units are made of metal, which limits our options. If they were plastic, they’d have been less durable, but it would have been easy to mold a place to store a spray gun. We tried a swing out hook that was okay if the unit was sitting on the floor but was not the best option when moving the turbine system from place to place.
Then, one day the light bulb went off and we realized that our air hose quick disconnect was a secure a way to safely hold and store any of our spray guns in any configuration. We experimented by installing the quick disconnect on top of our turbine case. Once we determined that this idea would work, it was in production and in place in a matter of weeks and we had our HandiHold™ docking station.
On the other hand, when we talk about making changes to a turbine system or designing a new spray gun there is much more involved. Let me outline the process.
- First comes the idea or need for a new turbine system or spray gun.
- We brainstorm and discuss all of the possibilities.
- A sketch is made of the concept for a new design.
- We consider the price point for this new and improved product.
- Our engineering department creates a rough prototype to see if the concept will work.
- We see that it can work and move on to formal engineering designs leading to a prototype.
- Then we test and test again. The original design might change a few times as various modifications take place.
- Once satisfied that the new product meets the unique needs it was intended for, then it goes into limited production.
- The next step is a rigorous process of re-testing, obtaining various electrical certifications and producing logos, a name for the product and finally sales and marketing materials.
- Developing a new spray gun takes a similar process.
- In either case, spray gun or turbine, it can take a year from idea to market launch.
When we bring in new products to TheFinishingStore.com the procedure is similar. Sometimes we get recommendation from one of customers of something they want or have discovered, or we at Apollo, by constantly looking at the market for unique products that we think might benefit our consumers, find something with potential. We then obtain the product, test, and then ask a few selected and trusted associates work with the product to gain their thoughts and opinions. Once satisfied, the product is secured and put on our website for sale.
We are looking forward to an exciting 2013 and looking forward to hearing from you with your needs and ideas!
Sr. Vice President and COO
Apollo Sprayers International, Inc.
Product of the Month: Erecta-Rack PRO SERIES
The PRO Series Erecta-Rack has been designed for the professional finisher from top to bottom, with a new sleek and stylish design. The extremely durable, no-mark, powder coated cross bars accommodate jobs that require delicate finishes or four-side priming.
- Brilliant space saving innovation
- Quickly dry doors, cabinet doors, and trim
- Easy to assemble, modular and portable
- Paint and dry on-site with minimum space wasted
- Once you’ve tried Erecta-Rack, you’ll never work without it
The Erecta-Rack is a simple, patent pending, innovative solution for all of your trim and door drying needs! It is completely modular and portable. Just insert the cross bars into the support blocks and you are ready to go! When finished, simply disassemble and transport in the optional custom carry bag.
Add a Little Music to Your Spraying
The Apollo Model 1050VR turbine spray system was tested at the Sherwin-Williams Automotive Paint Division in Atlanta, GA. The unit was put through its paces for 8 hours spraying a variety of primers, base coats, clear coats and fleet coatings. Both solvent and waterborne products were applied on various hood and fender substrates. The 1050VR performed flawlessly, providing superb finish results with a measured average coating savings of 40% over other spray technologies including HVLP spray guns designed for compressed air. This savings is significant given the cost of automotive coatings. See the results for yourself!
Finishing Feature Article: Nine Experts for the Price of One!
Looking back over our recent articles, we thought we’d celebrate some great ideas, hot tips, and super stories from our Finishing Experts. Read, learn and enjoy!
1.Glen Huey on Shellac:
The lack of respect for shellac may be due to the fact that it, a natural resin, is made from a bug’s secretions – not bug droppings, as some think. A lac insect, about the size of an apple seed, ingests tree sap which undergoes a transformation before being secreted as a shell-like shield that covers the bugs. The secretion also sticks to tree twigs. If it is scraped from the twigs, the result is known as “sticklac”, but if it is knocked free from the twigs using wooden mallets, the shellac is known as “grainlac.” Both are sent for additional processing. As it is being processed, the story of shellac does not get any richer. Originally, shellac was ground in mills, sifted through screens then soaked in large containers of water. At some point a worker jumped into the containers and, with his feet, READ MORE
Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Turbine Remote Control
Here’s a way to operate a turbine without having to turn the turbine on and off between spraying steps. It’s best to have the turbine a little distance from the spray area, so here’s a really efficient and easy solution: plug the turbine into a remote control like the one pictured and turn it on and off from the remote in your pocket or hanging from your belt.
Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Conversion Varnish Application Issues
Conversion varnish, also called catalyzed varnish, is the most protective and durable finish
commonly available to amateurs and small shops. In industry it is often used on office furniture and kitchen cabinets.
The finish is supplied in two parts: the finish itself, and an acid catalyst that has to be added just before application to make the finish cure properly. Conversion varnish thins with xylene, toluene or a related solvent specified by the manufacturer.
You can usually find conversion varnish at distributors or stores that cater to professionals. The trade off for the added performance is greater application difficulty.
The catalyst has to be added exactly as specified or problems will occur. Too much catalyst and an oily residue, called “bloom,” will develop on the surface, and the finish might crack. Too little catalyst and the finish won’t harden properly, and it may wrinkle when the next coat is applied.
Once the catalyst is added, you have a limited time specified by the manufacturer to use the finish or it will cure in the spray gun. You also have a limited time to complete the finishing so the coats bond well. As a result, if you’re doing any pore filling or glazing with slow-drying products, you may want to do these over a vinyl sealer and with vinyl washcoats between steps so you don’t exceed this window. Other sealers or finishes may cause wrinkling or cracking if you apply conversion varnish over them.
- The acid catalyst causes color shifts in many dye stains, so always use the manufacturer’s recommended stains.
- Due to the hardness attained, you shouldn’t apply more than about three coats of conversion varnish or the finish will crack – sometimes months later.
- The temperature should be kept in the upper 60s or higher for two days after application, or the finish may not cure properly.
- Repairs to conversion varnish are difficult to do well enough so the repair doesn’t show.
When spraying, it’s very important to work in a quality spray booth with good exhaust and use a proper NIOSH-approved respirator.
Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Testing Your Finish for Hardness
You can use architect’s pencils to test for finish hardness (scratch resistance). The lead in these pencils is rated from about 6 or 7B, the softest, to 6 or 7H, the hardest. HB is in the middle. You don’t need to buy all these pencils, just the middle five or six, because most finishes will test to one of these.
To prepare the pencils sharpen them with a pocketknife, not a pencil sharpener. Then ground the tip of the lead perpendicular to the length of the pencil on fine sandpaper, or regular paper if the lead is close to flat. You want the 90-degree angle at the tip of the lead to be sharp.
To perform the test, hold the pencil as if writing and push it forward into the finish, as shown in the accompanying picture. You don’t need to use much pressure, but it’s important to use about the same pressure with each pencil and on each finish you are testing to get an accurate result.
Begin with one of the softer-lead pencils and work through the hardness until you get to one that leaves a cut mark in the finish. This is the rating for that finish.
You can easily tell if one type of finish provides more scratch resistance than another.