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Spray Booth

My Spray Booth is What?

By Michael Benolkin

Date of First Look October 2019 Manufacturer Artograph
Subject Model 1530 Spray Booth Pros Filtering and airflow is great, even lDacquers, excellent design and construction
Cons Out of production MSRP (USD) OOP

First-Look

Over 15 years ago, I purchased an Artograph spray booth for my hobby workshop. My shop is in a loft overlooking the living room, so any smells I create in the process of modeling, my spousal unit will immediately smell. At the time, I was using primarily Testors Model Master enamels as they were readily available in our local hobby shop whereas my preferred paints (Tamiya and Gunze Aqueous) were not. The spray booth did its job well and indeed kept the peace in our family. A few years later and our only decent hobby shop had closed its doors, and since I was mail ordering my supplies, I went back to Tamiya and Aqueous. Over time, I began to explore the other acrylic options: Vallejo, Mig, AK, Hataka, and Akan, and as long as I was keeping things relatively odorless, the spray booth gradually became a storage nook for projects on hold.

Fast forward to present day, and I'm back to shooting Tamiya and Gunze Aqueous (Mr.Hobby), but I'm wanting to explore lacquers from Gunze Mr.Color, MRP (Mr.Paint), and a few others. If you have used lacquers indoors, you know that they can create odors worse that enamels. It was time to get the spray booth back in operation. After clearing out the kit boxes from inside the booth, cleaning off the dust, and powering up the blowers, I knew I had to replace the filter elements. Over the years, I had recommended the Artograph spray booth to others and would provide them a link to their website, but this time when I stopped in, Artograph listed my booth as 'out of production'. Worse yet, they no longer stocked the filter supplies for my booth. A broader search around the interweb revealed that there were a few sets left 'out there', but the cheapest set was still obscene, and the higher priced options are more than some of the new top-end hobby spray booths. Now what?

Artograph 1530

The good news is that in my previous engineering life, I was faced with similar obsolescence issues and began a quest for options. My Artograph booth uses three layers of filter media, the first is a simple thin mesh, the second was a one-inch-thick polyester filter element, and the final stage was a charcoal/carbon filter element. Since I have a roll of the thin mesh on a tray behind the booth, I simply pulled another section through and that is good to go. One down.

A search back on the internet and I found several commercial suppliers for industrial filter materials. The carbon filter in the 15"x30" size was in stock, and while I had to by a minimum quantity, the price was still very reasonable. When they arrived a few days later, the carbon filter looked like a filter I'd put into my furnace, but it dropped right into my spray booth. Two down.

The polyester filter material came on a roll 30" by 90' (feet!), and while I felt that I had just been shopping at one of the wholesale warehouse stores, the roll also arrived shortly after the carbon filters. I cut two sections of 15"x30" out of the roll and test-fit one of them in the spray booth. It looks and feels like the filter element I had removed previously. Three down!

When I fired up the booth with its new filters, it came up to speed with no strain or issues. What was interesting (to me), was the older filter pads sat on the bottom of the booth and the carbon pad sat over the blower intakes, and judging from the dust/particle patterns on the old filter pad, most of the carbon pad went unused because the blower drew its air from the area of filter pad above its intake. The new carbon filter is in a paper/cardboard frame which holds the filter off the intake and allows all of the surface area to be used.

In any case, the cost of the huge roll of polyester and box of carbon filters, with shipping, was still $50 less than the least expensive option for replacement Artograph elements. What's more, I now have six carbon filters and 70+ polyester filters, so this was by far less expensive than buying a few of the Artographs replacement sets when they were still in production. Sometimes you just need to think out of the box.

Artograph 1530Artograph 1530

In the image above, this is the spray booth some 15 years ago. It has a clear Plexiglas top to allow light through and I use a small aquarium hood up there with two 25 watt bulbs for illumination. With incandescent bulbs all but gone, and not wanting a heat source over my booth, I came up with a similar option. Since I had replaced the light over my aquarium recently with a nice multi-spectral LED hood, I acquired another one for a 30 inch wide tank.

Artograph 1530

The replacement hood puts out more light than the previous hood and does so without the heat. In addition, these LED hoods have a night light option with blue light which makes for a simple night light in my workshop. Like the aquarium light in my office, my workshop is now lit 24/7 and the power consumption is a mere fraction of incandescent or even fluorescent options.

Artograph 1530

My spray booth is now ready for another decade of service and really happy that I didn't have to replace the whole booth! If you want to know more about the Artograph 1530, perhaps you can find one second-hand, you can read my original review here.

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