The New AP-3 Air Purge Gun by PMC

Polyurethane Machinery Corporation

Polyurethane Machinery Corporation (PMC) is an innovative designer and manufacturer of equipment for spray-applied polyurethane foam, polyurea coatings and poured concrete, operating from Lakewood, New Jersey.
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The company was founded in 2007 after industry consolidation left Graco, the largest company in the polyurethane market at the time, without any competition. PMC was formed to offer an affordable, made in the USA, alternative to Graco’s equipment.

The company is now launching its newest innovation: the PMC AP-3 spray gun. This is the next generation of the AP-2 spray gun, recognized by industry professionals as one of the best-performing polyurethane spray guns available. The AP-3 is the result of taking the proven technology from its predecessor and applying design enhancements that have been engineered based on feedback from users.

PMC operates on the driving principle of designing with the customer in mind. The basic technology of the air purge spray gun has been the same since the very first model was designed in 1974. PMC has improved on that by listening closely to the professionals who use it and engineering ways to make the equipment longer-lasting and more cost-effective.

A challenge for customers who use spray applied polyurethane is the cost related to part replacement on the spray guns. These guns combine two chemicals under heat and pressure, and so, naturally, some parts undergo wear and need to be replaced. If a company owns ten of these guns, it will also have a collection of spare parts available for each of them, and the investment can easily approach fifteen to twenty thousand dollars. The task for PMC was to find ways to reduce the number of parts that need frequent replacement and increase the lifespan of the ones that remain.

The AP-3 has some noteworthy improvements over the previous generation, and over competing guns as well, all with an eye toward minimizing cost to the customer. “We use the same proven components that these guys already have a bunch of on their shelves,” says Murphy Mahaffey, director of international sales with PMC. “They can keep those components when they replace their gun with the next generation. It’s more economical than having to change over to a whole new gun with a whole new set of spare parts.”

The AP-3 took the technology of the AP-2, which had proven itself over the last nearly six years, and worked closely with end users and distributors to find ways to tweak the technology to increase efficiency and reduce costs. The company has invested in developing an inventive, adhesion-resistant coating technology that will allow the components to release the spray material more effectively for easier cleaning, which will give the parts longer operating life and prevent problems related to triggering operation.

Much of the technology in the AP-3 is very similar to the technology in the AP-2, but with important developments such as this coating. The mixing chamber, where the two chemicals combine to make the polyurethane foam; the pattern control tip, where the spray exits the gun; and the side seal assembly, are all components of the AP-2 that have been widely recognized in the industry as significant upgrades over earlier technology. These components are still in the AP-3 but coated to reduce buildup and easy cleanup.

The gun has been built with options for running the hosing for material and air. The material hose can be routed either out the back of the gun or down the front, and the air hose can be routed either out the back or down through the handle. This enables the operator to choose the configuration that best suits them for comfort, safety and efficient operation. The bridge of the gun has been extended to allow better clearance, giving the operator more room for triggering.

For the trigger itself, PMC has gone with an entirely new trigger cartridge design. The trigger component is now a low-cost, single part, removable cartridge. It eliminates the need for several replacement parts, and the design has been made better with a very short piston throw, making it very responsive. This means that when you trigger the gun, the piston moves very quickly, which gives you better control over where the material goes for better detail.

The technological improvements of the AP-3 over the AP-2 are substantial, but one of the chief advantages of the new generation of this gun is that it has fewer parts. “Between the streamlined bridge design and the new trigger spool assembly, we’re looking at twenty percent fewer gun parts,” says Mahaffey. “That results in a less rebuild cost to the end user.”

Polyurethane spray equipment all operates using the same underlying technology. All air-purge units spray the same materials, have a piston and trigger, mix the material and blow it out with air. What PMC has done is to invest a great deal of time and capital in perfecting the details.

For example, spray guns are designed with filter springs at the gun block, so that if there is anything in the material line that should not be there, it will be filtered and removed before it gets into the mixing chamber. All spray guns have these, but PMC has modified the technology for better performance. The filters on PMC guns work from the outside, allowing faster cleaning, whereas most guns filter from the inside into a basket mechanism.

The PMC filter can be simply unscrewed from the side block of the gun, cleaned with a wire brush and replaced. With competing equipment, the screen and the basket have to be removed and cleaned, but cleaning the basket is time-consuming enough that users often just replace it instead to get back to work as quickly as possible. In the end, the competing products take more time to use and go through spare parts unnecessarily.

The AP-2 gun has been an industry staple for more than five years and has helped many companies to raise productivity and profitability by having an affordable price. The success of the AP-2 has led to the development of the next generation AP-3.

To develop the technology for its leading-edge equipment engineered, the company has built a team of highly-skilled experts. “When you get into the technical expertise,” says Mahaffey, “our team is unique in the industry. I’ve been in this industry, working for equipment manufacturers like this, since 1994, and a lot of the guys in our company have been doing this for that or longer. There’s a lot of captured expertise in our company.” The level of experience and the engineering skill at PMC are what have resulted in the technology it offers.

“The direct input from our customers and distributors into the design of this gun – that’s the key,” says Mahaffey. “That’s what we strive to do – design with the customer in mind. We did research for a year or more before we even began prototyping this gun.”

PMC has continued to grow in the United States and internationally over the past few years, primarily as a result of designing products based on the needs of the industry. Listening to end users and building machines that allow them to operate profitable businesses is a cornerstone of the PMC model.

That commitment to feedback-focused design has enabled Polyurethane Machinery Corporation to develop a quality, American-made spray gun in a league of its own. The AP-3 spray gun will be available April 15, 2018.

Industry Changemakers

The construction industry has historically been slow to evolve, drawn to tradition over technology. As the industry is in a state of rapid innovation and advancement, organizations like the Toronto Construction Association (TCA) are working tirelessly to build strong member businesses that won’t fall behind.

June 17, 2019, 11:55 PM EDT