Striping machines consist of a small engine, an air compressor, the spray nozzle and a series of valves and hoses including one for paint intake. There is frequently a hose ranging from 25 to 50 feet on average that is attached to a separate spray gun similar to the kind found in spray painting equipment that is used for stencils or touch ups. Wheels, a handle and a trigger allow the operator to control the direction of the machine and the force of the paint spray.
Most striping machines are pushed by the operator because that increases the amount of control and precision the operator has; self-propelled or ride-on striping machines are available for large areas. The frame is made from metal and is typically heavy duty stainless steel to resist harsh solvents and corrosion. Some models of striping machines have dashboards that light up for nighttime use.
Centralized controls, filters, hose wraps and other accessories help facilitate high productivity for a fast and clean job. Striping machines are generally used by companies that specialize in laying asphalt, sealing cracks and other pavement issues rather than businesses that have paint machines or systems.
There are two main types of striping machines: conventional and airless. In a conventional striping machine, compressed air fed to the paint reservoir forces paint down through a hose to the spray nozzle mounted underneath the machine. The air changes the stream of paint into a spray that marks the lines and stripes on the ground. Another hose carries air to a can of water or paint thinner (depending on whether the paint is latex or oil-based) that can clean out the nozzle of the spray nozzle should it become clogged.
This hose bypasses the main paint line so that the paint itself is not diluted, ensuring that the lines are even and consistent. Each air and paint hose has a valve that can be adjusted to control pressure and power. Airless striping machines do not use air compressors at all. Instead, a hydraulic pump draws paint through a suction tube to the nozzle which is a very small slit.
The pressure of the paint being forced through the hole causes it to fan out into a spray pattern. There thickness of the paint and the width of the spray cannot be adjusted because there is no air that allows for it. Airless machines are either off or on full power. The slit is also prone to clogging and must be cleaned manually.