Suggested AAA Settings for Waterborne

Instructions for a beginner on dialing in an air-assisted airless spraygun. November 3, 2010

I recently acquired a new CAT H20 AAA. What are experienced users setting air and fluid at when using waterborne products? Are settings for pigmented adjusted from settings for clears? I'm using mostly Target EM6000 and EM8000cv and some MLC products. I've sprayed some with an AAA before, but never set one up.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor T:
Check with your MLC rep - they have a list of what the tip PSI should be. Just sprayed some Agualente primer with my Kremlin, very heavy. 5 gallon pail, added 1 ltr water, tip psi approximately 550lb. Rep said around 480 psi. Also had a 411 tip instead of 409.

From contributor O:
Start with 20 on the air side and 50 on the fluid side and then adjust from there. I use 409 and 411 tips for clears and 413 for pigmented finishes. That will get you started.

From the original questioner:
Thanks! I've got a call into my MLC rep. Contributor J, that helps for a starting point. I've got the 409 and 411 tips for clear. I'll pick up a 413 for pigmented.

From contributor J:
I have been considering a move to AAA and would be interested in your initial impressions as you get to know this unit. Things like quality of spray pattern, overspray, cleaning and learning curve.

From the original questioner:
Yesterday was my first time using my new AAA, and I am truly impressed. I previously was using pressure pots, and while I could achieve good results with this setup, the AAA is much faster and I can lay down a lot more product quicker with a lot less overspray. I often had a difficult time keeping a large surface wet when using waterborne products. I didn't experience that at all with the AAA. I used a lot less material for a job of similar size than with a pp. Setup and clean up is a lot faster as well. Even though it's only my first run with the new setup, I see very few, if any negatives. I'm anxious to try it inside a cabinet, as many guys claim that it really reduces overspray in this area.

I'd highly recommend getting an AAA rig, and I can see where it will pay for itself in a short amount of time. I bought the specific H20 AAA from CAT, as it has a larger pickup tube, stainless steel fittings throughout, and an Opti tip specifically designed for waterborne products. You could run solvent products through it as well, just maybe change the tip to the standard design and follow the proper cleanup schedule to convert back to waterborne. If your budget permits, I wouldn't hesitate to buy one.

From contributor J:
Thank you for the report. Do you find the quality of spray is as good as or better than your other guns?

From the original questioner:
I purchased the Bobcat gun with the CAT AAA unit. I have its sister gun on one of my pressure pot setups and I like the way it feels in my hand. It's a little lighter and more compact than the standard Cougar gun. That said, I'm able to make a good comparison between the pressure pot setup and the AAA setup since the guns are essentially the same. Without a doubt, I was able to lay down a nicer coat with the AAA. You don't have as much fan pattern control with the gun on the AAA as with a pp gun, and the trigger is either all on or all off, but that honestly doesn't seem to be an issue. You can buy different tips to change fan pattern widths if needed. And, without a doubt, it is incredibly faster.

For me, it has been a fairly easy adjustment to switch from a pp to an AAA. I know that I still have a lot to learn and need to become proficient on dialing it in with various materials, but it doesn't feel as intimidating at this point. If you're spraying any volume of material and lots of flat surfaces like cabinet parts and doors, I don't think there is a better way to go than an AAA.

From contributor J:
Thank you. I am not a high volume (5-10 gallon/month) sprayer, but I do spray all my cabinet parts and doors flat. Drawers I do without bottoms. So time is a consideration, but quality is paramount.

From contributor S:
Start off with no air, just fluid pressure. Start low, which should produce a pattern with lots of "fingers" or wet spots. Increase the pressure until these go. You won't be able to get rid of the two outer spots, so stop trying at this point. Once you have a classic pattern of a (rugby) football with top and bottom spots, start adding air, until the spots are blended in and a reasonably even spray pattern is achieved. Make a note of these settings in a book or on the wall. Next time you spray this product, set the system to these settings and away you go.

I sell Sikkens Industrial joinery products, all water-borne and all AAA sprayed. I have the odd customer who uses PP, but this is based purely on equipment cost.