What Is Water Based Finishing and Who Can Benefit From It?

Water based finishes are obtained using a water based paint or glue – something which is favoured by a wide variety of companies and enterprises that are looking for flexibility, productivity and cost-effective use.

The Science Behind Water Based Finishing

The finish is defined as water “based” as if it were comprised of solely water then it’d be far too easily removable after drying to be effective. However, the scientific reality behind this process is that H2O plays a supporting role in the process to convert the waterborne finish from liquid to a protective and highly durable film layer.

Moving further into the world of chemistry, water based finishes are made up of tiny spheres of resin, which are suspended in water alongside a slowly evaporating solvent (e.g. glycol ether). A crucial part of this process is open air; as when a water based finish is spread in the air the water itself will evaporate far quicker than the solvent. The solvent then stays behind, which softens the protecting coating on the minuscule resin latexes – resulting in the two substances bonding together to produce one continuous layer of film.

Despite water taking all the credit in the name – the curing process here ultimately relies on the solvent, not water, as the active ingredient. The solvent is crucial as the protective coating which is produced is not affected by moisture and thus has considerably more resistance to a wide variety of substances.

Aesthetically, through the paint resins being dissolved in a water finish –  instead of the typical solvent based substance – the result is more viscous and solid in content. If implemented using an ineffective product, this can lead to the spray appearing coarser to the naked eye – producing a “gritty” looking by-product – because it is far more difficult to atomise (convert into fine particles) than when using solvent.

Who Benefits From Water Based Finishes

A wide variety of enterprises, particularly small to medium size businesses can benefit from the cost-effective use and high quality results which water based finishes can offer.

For those who have sprayed by hand until today, the reciprocating spray machines are the ideal tool to produce this water based finish for small to high volume outputs, due to their wide-reaching variety of benefits:

  • These modular spray machines  come fully equipped with a high-precision photodiode reading barrier for scanning in the incoming objects for spraying and are available in a number of standard multiple gun single or twin arm spray head configurations, with 6 axis control heads and anthropomorphic robot arms also available for intricate 3D finishing
  • Wide variety of substrate materials can be operated on (various woods, plastics and metals)
  • Regardless of the size and material of the piece being processed, the precise scanning which the control software affords will optimise the spray painting process
  • Cost-efficiency is maximised throughout, by negating the wastage of paint
  • Because water-based paints remain flexible, they can accommodate regular movement – making them more durable and long-lasting
  • Due to their water vapour permeable, microporous nature, water trapped beneath the surface of these paints allow trapped moisture to evaporate naturally beneath the surface without cracking, bubbling or damaging the surface of the paint film
  • Water based spray painting machines are the ultimate tool for affording flexible performances – through the easy management of small to medium sized batches and frequent, easy colour changes
  • Any enterprises which require consistent, uniform finishing can benefit from water based finishing through the overspray filtration element of these spray machines. The overspray is taken through two stage of dry filters, whilst using a large filtering surface area which produces far better air distribution – curtailing the chance of producing any “rough” finish through the fast, effective atomisation of particles
  • A high level of accuracy is guaranteed through the high precision linear guide of the brushless spraying arms that water based finishing machines generally use

Protect The Environment With Water Based Finishes

All types of paint are required to contain a minimal amount of volatile organic chemicals, however, it is generally always true that water-based paints will contain much lower levels of these environmentally harmful properties than their oil-based paint alternatives. This provides a clear benefit for companies to increase how economically friendly they are by utilising water based paint rather than oil based.

Waterborne spray machines can be equipped with a paper conveyor system where many colours and different paints are required, thus making recovery uneconomical, but a carbon fibre belt conveyor system is also available if recovery is required when using a high percentage of one colour or primer.

Using the intricate vacuum system, the paper belt remains constantly taut throughout the process to produce immaculate and consistent application on the piece being operated on whilst simultaneously keeping the underside of the panels clean. The carbon fibre conveyor is also highly-effective for minimising maintenance procedures and the amount of solvent being used through utilising an automatic recovery and cleaning system.

How Can We Assist You?

Have any more questions or enquiries about water based finishing and how you can benefit from it? With long-standing partnerships with Industry renowned names including Cefla, Wandres and CMA Robotics; MPS Machines Ltd provides the complete service and package for the furniture production sector – providing high quality, innovative equipment and solutions to the entire woodworking industry.


Contact us today at or give us a call on +441162401795 (phone) / +447799896769 (mobile).


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