Need is always the foundation of innovation. One man named Joesph Binks was employed by Marshall Field’s in Chicago and part of his job was to paint the walls of the basement in the store. This wasn’t just your average basement – it had multiple floors which needed to be whitewashed. If Binks sent his crew down there to get the job done with brushes, they wouldn’t finish the job for several weeks.
There had to be a better way. In 1887, Binks invented the very first spray gun for paint. It was a pump which had to be operated by hand, but a spray nozzle would disperse the paint thanks to the pressurization container which kept the contents under pressure. This saved everyone an enormous amount of time and in 1893, after his work for the Colombian Exposition, Binks would become a household name throughout the US Midwest.
The modern spray gun does more than just put paint under pressure so it can be sprayed outward. It also atomizes the paint so a fairly even coat of paint can be sprayed onto the surface being worked on. The invention of this process actually started with a doctor who was looking for a better way to treat his patients.
Dr. Allen DeVilbiss was trying to solve the riddle of a sore throat. If he gave patients a liquid medication for their pain, it wouldn’t be very helpful. Pills and tablets weren’t working either. To create a spray, Dr. DeVilbiss would use some tubing, a container base, and a rubber bulb to help create pressure and a lower overall atmosphere to create a vacuum that would create “droplets” of medicine. These droplets would then stick to the back of the throat.
It would be his son, Thomas, who would take this technology and apply it to a spray gun for paint in 1907. Thomas discovered that when compressed air was blown across the pickup tube after it was submerged in paint, a spray pattern which users could directly control would result. This technology was immediately picked up by the furniture industry because it reduced their finishing time.
The paint sprayers available from the 1920s-1960s would go through some unique evolution. Users could swap out paint sprayers to spray different colors with ease. People discovered they could use food dyes in paint sprayers, so smaller models were made for the kitchen. Fabric makers were using spray guns to apply fire retardants and other protectors.
World War II would also create a unique future industry: automobile paint sprayers. Many soldiers involved in the painting of ships, trucks, and other vehicles would find themselves able to use the same type of equipment to paint vehicles in Detroit. This would eventually lead to the development of gravity and siphon sprayers, which would then lead to electric models.
Today the HVLP development, which started in the 1980s, has again changed the paint spraying industry. Results are more consistent and less screening is required to create results.
The history of the spray gun has helped many people complete DIY projects with ease. Have you found the right sprayer for your next project?
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