Central Pneumatic HVLP spray guns are a popular, affordable option for small scale painting and finishing work. HVLP (high volume, low pressure) systems provide superior transfer efficiency by atomizing paint at lower air pressures.
Understanding the Central Pneumatic HVLP tips and how to select the right ones can help users get the most out of these spray systems.
The removable nozzle tips play an important role in shaping the spray pattern and providing proper paint atomization. This article will provide an overview of the different Central Pneumatic HVLP tips available, their sizing and selection, proper use and maintenance, and where to purchase replacements.
Introduction to Central Pneumatic HVLP Spray Guns
Central Pneumatic is a tool brand sold exclusively at Harbor Freight Tools stores. They offer a line of compact and lightweight HVLP paint spray guns, available at budget-friendly prices. These guns operate by flowing a high volume of air into the spray gun at relatively low pressure, ranging from 10-50 PSI.
Inside the spray gun, the paint is atomized into a fine spray pattern that is precisely shaped by the fluid tip and air cap. This low pressure atomization results in a softer spray pattern that minimizes paint overspray and bounce back.
Less paint is wasted, allowing for greater transfer efficiency and improved control when applying light coats.
Central Pneumatic HVLP Tips
The removable nozzle tips are what largely determine the spray pattern and flow rate on a HVLP paint gun. There are two components:
1. Fluid Nozzle Tips
The fluid nozzle tip attaches to the front of the paint passageway. This opening constricts the paint flow while speeding up its velocity.
The size of the fluid tip is related to the amount of paint being released, with larger numbers indicating higher flow rates. Proper matching of the tip to the viscosity and application requirements is important for good atomization.
2. Air Cap Tips
The air cap tip fits over and directs airflow around the fluid nozzle tip. Air caps will have different shaped openings to control the shape of the spray pattern.
Fan pattern air caps emit a wide, elongated pattern shape. Round air caps provide a narrow, circular pattern ideal for detailed surfaces or edges.
HVLP Tip Sizing
The tips are sized according to a numbered system (for fluid nozzles) or lettered system (for air caps). This sizing affects the spray pattern dimensions and flow rate:
Fluid Nozzle Sizes
- Size 1.0-1.8 mm – Smaller tips for thin liquids or minimal flow needs
- Size 2.0-2.5 mm – General purpose tip sizes
- Size 3.0+ mm – Larger tips for spraying heavier coatings
Choosing the Right HVLP Tip
To select the optimal fluid and air cap tips, consider these factors:
- Paint/Coating Properties – Thin lacquers require small tips. Heavy latex or oil-based enamels need larger tips. The paint’s flow rate, viscosity and intended use will impact tip selection.
- Desired Finish – Wider spray patterns allow for faster coverage with less passes needed. Narrow and round patterns provide more control for detailed sections. Finish appearance is also affected by tip size.
- Air Pressure Setting – Higher pressure allows larger tips to be utilized. Proper atomization is critical so finding the right combo of pressure + tip size is key.
Air Cap Sizes
- Size A/B – Narrower fan spray patterns
- Size C/D – General purpose, medium width fan patterns
- Size E (and up) – Wider fan spray patterns
Additionally there are round air caps designated by number sizes (ex. #3 round tip). Round tips require less thinning of paint.
Usage and Maintenance
To get the best performance from a Central Pneumatic HVLP spray gun system, proper use and maintenance of the nozzle tips is more important than you’d think.
Installation and Removal
Most fluid and air cap tips twist lock into place on the front of the gun. When installing new or clean tips, be careful not to cross thread and only turn the tip in until gently snug.
Tips should be removed when cleaning and stored safely in the provided plastic cases. Take care not to damage or lose small parts like air diffuser seals.
Over time, dried paint can cake and clog the channels inside the tips. This can greatly degrade spray performance. As such, frequent cleaning is a must.
Follow any included manufacturer cleaning directions. Typically it involves soaking the disassembled tips in solvent for 10-20 minutes before scrubbing them out with a brush and reaming needle. Ensure to wear proper protective equipment while cleaning.
After soaking, check if any debris loosens with the passage reamer before going in with a brush. Once scrubbed, rinse the tips using solvent then blow them out with air. Repeat additional soakings as needed to fully remove stubborn deposits.
Properly cleaning tips regularly makes it less likely to require replacement, saving on added costs. Neglecting care ruins many good tips prematurely. The key is preventing layering of dried media.
Signs Requiring Replacement
Some indications your Central Pneumatic HVLP tips need replacing:
- Paint output diminished despite cleaning
- Spray pattern degraded or sputtering
- O-ring seals cracked or flattened
- Air leaks detected around tip
- Visible wear or damage present (nicks, missing parts)
If you notice one or more of these things, it’s time for a fresh set of nozzle tips!
Where to Buy Central Pneumatic HVLP Replacement Tips
Harbor Freight is the go-to source for replacement Central Pneumatic parts and accessories like nozzle tips. All locations with spray gun offerings will carry replacement tip kits on site or can order them in. Kits group common tip sizes and should indicate model number compatibility.
The tips can also be ordered directly from the HarborFreight.com website for delivery or in-store pick up. Big box retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s may have universal HVLP tip assortments as well that work.
When buying new nozzle tips, carefully check provided size markings and model numbers match what is needed. Using improperly sized or rated tips risks irreparable damage to the spray gun system. Confirm before installing replacements.