SATA spray guns in use at Lackiertechnik Hubert Falk in the Black Forest
In October of 2021, we were allowed to visit Mr. Hubert Falk in his workshop and showroom in Haslach i. K. in the Black Forest. For Hubert Falk, painting is not just a job, it’s his calling. He was more than able to make this clear to us in our conversation and during our tour of his showroom. It’s really not an exaggeration to call him a luminary in the field of spray painting. And even that title doesn't exactly do him justice either: he is a real jack of all trades, as a painter, designer, colour developer, pianist, singer, event manager and much more!
We were amazed and could feel nothing but admiration for the heart-felt passion with which he realises a vast range of projects. That’s why it was even more of a pleasure to us to see that Mr. Falk and his team realise their projects using SATA spray guns, and they’ve been doing so for many years.
Hubert Falk got into spray painting on account of his father. A painter and varnisher by trade, his father was unable to inspire his son to paint walls and doors, but when car parts were delivered from a neighbouring dealership for some paint repairs, Hubert Falk's interest in spray painting was stirred. In 1966, his father founded a paint shop for his son. Initially, car parts were spray painted here,
but Hubert Falk wasn't satisfied. He had always been a creative person, and he was constantly on the lookout for new experiences and gaps in the market – on the one hand to avoid relying on just one mainstay, and on the other hand because he simply wanted to paint more than "just" car parts. In addition to cars, motorbikes and air planes, Hubert Falk also spray paints furniture, trade fair stands, musical instruments, shower heads, clothing, shoes and decorative items such as antlers, mannequins, vases and bottles, to name just a few objects.
This is how the portfolio of Lackiertechnik Falk GmbH expanded over the years. In addition to vehicle painting, the company is also active in special painting applications in the areas of industry, furniture and interiors as well as prototyping.
There doesn’t seem to be anything that Hubert Falk and his team can’t paint. They can put a coat of paint on just about any object, no matter what surface it may be. Whether wood, styrofoam, metal or plastic, he implements a wide variety of paint finishes and finds solutions for even the most challenging jobs, from large-scale painting to detailed airbrush work,
going by the motto "if it doesn't fit, we’ll make it fit", they work the problem until a solution is found. In 2009, this passion to solve problems resulted in a patent application for a "paint application on brass, copper, nickel and chrome substrates". In the years that followed, the painting expert continued his research in collaboration with various research institutes. In 2016, for example, a special "copper shade for the fashion industry" was developed.
All the hard work paid off: by now, numerous reputable companies from all over the world, such as Hansegrohe, Armani, Gucci, Mercedes Benz, Dior, Tommy Hilfiger, Robert Bosch or Porsche, are among Lackiertechnik Falk GmbH’s customers.
And when the multi-talented artist Hubert Falk isn’t busy painting, he also works as a designer, arranges his own fashion shows and events, during which he happily serenades the audience on a grand piano that is, of course, freshly painted for the occasion.
Hubert Falk and his team are paint professionals with a passion - and have been for over 50 years.
Learn more about the history of Lackiertechnik Hubert Falk
1. What led you to choosing this profession?
"I think it was my father who instilled my creativity in me. He was a painter and varnisher and had a painting workshop right behind our house, where I spent a lot of time during school holidays watching him paint, for example, wooden doors and window frames. Maybe that's why, even as a small child, I loved to paint, tracing drawings and painting within the lines.
My interest was stirred in particular by the car parts sent in for paint repair by a neighbouring car dealership around 1964. When my father asked me at the end of 1965 if I wanted to continue his painting trade or if I would prefer to work in the area of automotive painting, I had already made my decision long before.
I’m still grateful to him today for supporting me in this decision. He even built a paint shop with a paint booth behind our house while I was still an apprentice. Unfortunately, in 1978 he died in a motorcycle accident when he was only 58, and so he didn’t get to see my development."
2. What particularly appealed to you about painting at the time of your training?
"I liked the high-gloss synthetic resin paints, even though I had to use nitrocellulose paint for my final exam in 1968. Even then, outside of my job as an automobile painter, I really enjoyed painting chairs, flower pots or radiators with these materials that were still new to me.
Many things continued to change over time: when the first two-coat paints came on the market, I redesigned our VW Beetle with a gradient paint job. I painted the top of the car in silver metallic and then created a smooth transition to a dark gold hue towards the bottom. Due to the curved body and the many rounded parts, exact colour gradients weren’t that difficult to implement.
I applied my second gradient paint job to an almost new Opel GT, starting with a light blue metallic tone at the top to a dark purple hue on the bottom. The vehicles were real eye-catchers. In our area, everybody was talking about them during this time.
Finally, we applied the first transparent clear coat to the vehicles, which gave the base coat a special gloss. This initial phase of working with new materials was a formative time for me, trying things that were special for me at the time."
3. Was your company initially founded as a "classic" body and paint shop?
"At first, our clientèle only consisted of car dealerships for whom we did painting work. At that time, there were no specialised body shops in our region, and in general the services provided by car dealerships were limited to after-sales service. That's why we needed to offer dent removal work. We learned these techniques and procedures ourselves so we could paint properly on the re-formed sheet metal.
At that time, around 1969, about 80% of our customers were local car dealerships, but then the number of private customers also grew. When we moved the automotive paint shop to Zell am Harmersbach 26 years ago, that greatly increased this particular group of customers in percentage terms.
We also hired a highly motivated journeyman automotive technician around this time, and we sent him on just about every auto body course we could find. In addition to high-quality SATA spray guns, we also acquired the best possible tools for bodywork.
A few years later, a body shop in the region approached us about some paint jobs. A collaboration seemed to make sense, and since then we’ve been able to pass on major straightening work to this company and concentrate on the painting work that we specialise in. To this day, we continue to work very well together."
4. What is it that drives you? Where do you get your motivation? Where do you find these extraordinary commissions?
"I’ve always been fascinated with making the almost impossible possible, and that’s what gives me the strength and endurance to question and try out many things. I like to experiment and try to use my knowledge of materials that I’ve acquired over decades in a systematic way. All these experiments resulted in two patents, and our paint shop still benefits from those to this day.
For over 30 years, I’ve been participating in the trade shows in our region, and I’ve contributed with four of my own fashion shows. I love presenting exceptionally painted objects in the latest trends to display a wide range of painting. The exhibits are intended to impress visitors and make them think, but also to convey my own fascination with colours, and these presentations tend to generate all kinds of highly unusual requests.
I’m also frequently in contact with larger companies’ development departments for new products who come to me for advice. The professional expertise that I can bring to the table serves to create exceptional customer loyalty for years to come.
Sensitivity, know-how and years of painting experience form the basis that makes it possible to realise the most unusual customer requests."
5. Why do you paint or design such unusual things? Where do you get your inspiration?
"It’s true that I have countless ideas in my head, which I then rethink piece by piece. I implement the best of these ideas, even if that’s not always easy.
One of the things I do for inspiration is window shopping, for example, which I love to do. I also subscribe to countless magazines, from the Malerblatt to fashion magazines such as Vogue, as well as tattoo magazines.
If I see fantastic colour combinations somewhere – on the sides of buildings, decorative lines on motorcycles, coloured glass in decorations or displays, etc. – I can already picture the matching object, perfectly coordinated with these colours, in my mind and in my final own imagination.
Colours, colour worlds and their visual impressions have a definite effect on me. Colours are all around us all the time – from vehicle interiors to our clothing to sofa sets. I love the act of artfully applying colours to objects and skilfully orchestrating colour values and material properties."
6. What was the most unusual object you ever painted?
“The most unusual and most challenging object I ever painted would have been one I did in October of 2020. It was a sales counter, 7.5 meters long, that was to be provided with a mirror surface, using a chrome finish. The customer also requested that this chrome layer be applied in three different colour nuances. The same process also had to be applied to a wall unit behind it, 5 meters long and 3.5 meters high.
This was an enormously difficult job due to the size of the objects, the risk of dust inclusions and the three-colour process, but I made it work.
I’ve already received four more requests for similar commissions, but I’ve had to decide to turn them down. This kind of job represents a tremendous amount of risk and was a tremendous burden for me as a 71-year-old painting expert."
7. You have patents for a special paint process on nickel, copper, chrome and brass substrates. How did that come about?
"We work for several plumbing parts manufacturers, and we noticed during deliveries of parts to be painted that there was a disproportionate amount of scrap material at these companies. My idea was to save these parts from being scrapped or melted down, but applying paint to chrome turned out to be inordinately difficult. If I were to succeed in further processing and painting these parts, it would mean not just a much lower scrap rate for the manufacturer, but also great painting potential for us for years to come.
So I researched and experimented for almost two years. To ensure quality, I worked with individual labs to finally get approval for series production."
8. You also take on custom painting and have a self-developed copper colour. What is special about the colours you develop yourself?
“What’s special about them is that we can nuance the exact shade that the customer has in mind and paint it cleanly, in the exact colour, with the help of an explosion-proof ioniser installed in the painting booth. Even when dealing with multi-layer paint structures, this allows for a virtually dust-free surface.
By adding a wide variety of pigment toners, the colour of the highly diluted top coat is changed, but still allows a metallic undercoat to show through. This gives the painted surface that original electroplated look. The finishes we offer maintain their colour for a long time and are virtually unrivalled.
We test the special varnishes that we coat in a variety of ways in advance, sometimes over a period of months. The mixing ratios, thickness of the coating layer, processing temperatures, UV resistance, flash-off times and special features of the application are carefully noted and recorded in a special coating log.
This also makes it possible to repaint or extend a paint job at any time, without any problems.
In the field of custom painting, “shooting from the hip” just doesn't work. In these areas, we focus on sound, consistent paint work to the satisfaction of our long-standing customer base and our new customers throughout Europe and Asia."
9. How do you know which paint materials are most suitable for which substrates?
"Different materials and application areas call for different solutions:
the smallest differences with regard to materials, such as types of plastic or Plexiglas, can be quite relevant. Other conditions, such as manufacturing and delivery quality, haptic requirements, application in daily use, outdoor installation, mounting in water basins, display in shop windows or showcases, abrasion resistance, hot and cold water resistance, gasoline or Skydrol resistance, also play a role.
We’ve painted all kinds of materials over the years:
- Plastics, including from a 3-D printer
- Wood: various natural types, raw MDF, OSB panels etc.
- Various metal substrates: parts made of iron, unpolished or highly polished steel sheets, aluminium, copper, brass, nickel and metal alloys, etc.
Many years of experience with problematic substrates have made it possible for me to apply and systematically build up optimum coating techniques and the materials required for them.
As I’ve already mentioned, we’ve maintained a special coating folder for various substrates with their special requirements for many years. It contains all the specifics related to the coatings we’ve applied. This level of documentation saves us having to run new test series, as well as money and a lot of trouble.
It’s important that these documents are always completed without delay, so that we don't forget any step in the process."
10. Which SATA spray guns do you use?
"We use various SATA spray gun models, such as the SATAjet 5000 B RP, SATAjet 4000 B RP, SATAjet 3000 B RP and the SATAjet 1000 B RP.
In the design area, we work with the SATAminijet 4400 B RP, the SATAgraph and the SATA Dekor 2000.
In the industrial sector, we’ve worked with SATA flow cup guns exclusively for years and are achieving excellent surface results."
11. What is it you appreciate most about SATA spray guns?
"SATA spray guns offer excellent atomisation, a very good spray pattern as well as excellent handling during painting. The balanced weight distribution with a full paint container allows for fatigue-free work during longer painting times.
The spray guns are easy to clean due to their simple disassembly and assembly, and they’re very durable when they’re cleaned and well-maintained. SATA also provides fast, excellent service."