Testing Paint Booth Airflow Concepts with Computational Fluid Dynamics

Understanding how an effective spray booth works, and why the air moves the way that it does, is not as simple as many would lead you to believe. Although seemingly basic in principle, paint booth airflow is subject to many factors that can impact the movement of the air in ways that can be extremely difficult to anticipate. That is, unless, you have access to a sophisticated modeling software that simulates every aspect of air movement before any metal gets fabricated.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software does just that, and we were excited to sit and talk with the GFS Engineering Team about how the software works in the GFS paint booth design process.

GFS: Can you give us a general idea of what computational fluid dynamics software is, and why it’s important?

Engineering Team (ET): It’s a software package that allows us to model airflow and temperature distributions within a booth of any size. This allows us a couple of distinct advantages in the process of designing a paint booth.

First, we can quickly determine if there are any potential airflow issues very early in the design process, dramatically saving time and money. The second advantage is its usefulness as a research tool. Multiple new concepts can be quickly modeled and tested to determine validity and verify the best option to meet a particular set of performance needs.

GFS: That sounds very tricky.

ET: It is rather simple to run the software simulation itself, but the real skill comes in to play when examining the data and analyzing the results. It takes a great deal of training and expertise to accurately interpret the data, realize how it impacts the designs, and determine what you need to do about it.

GFS: So can you walk us through a typical CFD scenario?

ET: It always starts with building a CAD model of the booth. This model is then imported in to the CFD software, and you assign what are known as ‘airflow regions’ to various elements of the CAD model. Essentially this tells the CFD software which areas of the booth the air will flow through, and in which order. Once this is complete, the software then runs the simulation until the system reaches ‘convergence’, which is the term used to describe the booth’s ‘steady state’ of operation where airflow speed and temperature reach their set points.

GFS: How long does the simulation take to run?

ET: Of course, it entirely depends on how large and complex the model is. In some instances this can take as little as 10 minutes, in others it can literally take weeks to complete the simulation. So far, the longest simulation we have run in a test is 5hrs, which gives you an idea of just how powerful this software can be. If a massive aerospace paint booth takes 5 hrs to simulate, we can only imagine how huge a project would have to be to take a week to simulate!

We hope you’ve found this look at fluid dynamics in paint booth design interesting! If you have any questions about this unique software, or any other questions about GFS paint booth design, drop us a line at info@globalfinishing.com and we’d be happy to answer them for you.

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