Paint News Digest

Driventowrite leaves no corner of the automotive world unexamined. Today we look a bit at paint, Mazda paint, Toyota paint, Opel paint…

Soul red crystal paint: source
Soul red crystal paint: source

Mazda presented their new colour in November, ending their press release with the memorable line: “colour is an element of form”.

Soul Red Crystal is a development of an existing Mazda colour,  Soul Red that “balances vibrant energy and vividness with clear depth and gloss.” So, it’s rich and shiny. Mazda estimate that it has 20 percent higher colour saturation and 50 percent more depth”. I don’t know how the depth is estimated. There is no insight here. There might be some here.

Mazda say that “the paint retains a simple three-layer structure comprising clear, translucent and reflective coats, but represents an evolution of Mazda’s Takuminuri painting technology. Takuminuri gives mass-production vehicles a precise, high-quality finish.. the new paint’s translucent layer features a newly developed highly saturated red pigment for a richer red. In addition to high-brilliance, extremely thin aluminum flakes, the reflective coat features light-absorbing flakes that intensify shaded areas and make it possible to achieve a depth of colour that previously required two layers.

The aluminum flakes were made a uniform size, the consistency of the paint was enhanced and a technique to shrink the volume of paint during the drying process was employed. This results in even, smooth coverage of the aluminum and light-absorbing flakes on the car’s body and more precise control of light reflection, making for a substantially deeper and more vivid colour.” I thought that was worth printing almost verbatim. In short, the dark part is darker and the bright bits brighter. The coating is also more even. I think this means that the surface has a larger and more clearly separated range from lightest to darkest. When you see a car rendering like this one by Jason White:

High contrast reflections
High contrast reflections

…one’s eye is drawn to the dramatic contrast of the darkness of the surfaces affected by the ground and the surfaces reflecting the sky; the sky is typically dawn or dusk when the azimuth is bright and the zenith is darkest.

For your information, most automotive paints are provided by three global firms: PPG (USA), BASF (Germany) and Axalta (USA). And making paints a harder element to manage is that cars are made of a wider range of materials and environmental regulations require greater use of water-based paints. Lastly, there is a wish to reduce the space and time required for coatings: fewer ovens and fewer coats of paint.

If you’ve ever wondered why an Opel Adam has a rather ritzy look, it might be down to the paint. In 2014 Opel threw €8 million at the paint shop at the Eisenach factory where the car is built. Ford have put their effort (2007) into reducing the need for curing between coats. That saves time and energy and reduces emissions of volatile organic compounds. BMW tried water-based paints in Spartanburg (2011). Nissan’s latest news revolved around dirt-resistant paint. Blowing GM out of the water, Honda spent $210 on a whole new paint centre which uses less water (by catching overspray with limestone dust). They didn’t say if the the paint looks better. Toyota have a new energy repelling paint that keeps the car cool: Thermo-Tect. It’s a rather striking lime-yellow.

Heat repelling shade: source
Heat repelling shade: source

I was really hoping, in that trawl, to find news about paint processes that are good for customers as well as being cheaper and less polluting (which I approve of). So, far, of the manufacturers I know about, it’s Rolls-Royce, Mazda and GM who have paid most attention to paints. Mazda used a rolling carrier to allow them to spray thicker paint on their cars almost 20 years ago (it reduced paint run). Rolls-Royce are or were famous for taking months plus hand sanding and 20 coats for each car while Bob Lutz asked GM about a decade ago to make the paints look better so as to reinforce the impression of quality (and I think he was right).

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

9 thoughts on “Paint News Digest”

  1. The missus’s CX5 is Soul Red, a great colour in no way diminished by its ubiquity. Having whipped a sponge across its enormous flanks once or twice, I can attest that Mazda’s paint finish is already among the best available, with a lustrous finish that suggests a deep lacquer (even if that is merely an effect). By contrast, the metallic red paint I inspected on a 3-Series the other day was quite dull in comparison, a (lack of) quality I would level at most contemporary BMWs. The flat red of my current Fiesta is of a uniformly good finish; certainly superior to that of my mark 1 Focus which was both thin and porous, traits shared by the 2006 Astra. The 2008 Civic had appalling paint: thin and prone to chipping and crazing. The Clio was quite well finished, by contrast.

  2. Soul Red is rather lovely – on the MX-5 it’s positively pornographic.

    Mazda is starting to irritate me with all this cod-eastern-mystic naming of basic processes: my last LTT update on the 3 refers to two of these, then there is KODO (the design language), Jinba Ittai, etc. The odd one is OK, even quite cool, but it’s getting out of hand. People here know I am a fan of the marque; this is taking the gloss off it (sic) a bit.

    P.S. Soul Red Crystal does look even more naughty than it’s predecessor, as featured on the new CX-5 that is pictured in the excellent Mazda magazine.

  3. This is lovely technology when applied by robots in a production line sprayshop, producing that custom car lacquer look for everyone. Needless to say, when the inevitable knock comes, don’t expect that Halfords will give you a can of touch-in spray, or that your local bodyshop will produce an invisible repair. Translucent paints are a devil to spray because they depend on a near consistent thickness, near impossible to replicate when spraying in the odd panel to match.

    But it is more satisfying to have quality paint, as Bob Lutz realised. My Cube is just White as far as casual observers are concerned. But, close up, the pearl under clear lacquer becomes apparent. That gives me satisfaction. But then the mismatch of the repaired panel on my pearl blue SM gives me an equal dissatisfaction. All the more so since I knew it would happen and asked the sprayshop to re-treat the entire side if that was the case and I’d pay them extra. But, as is so often the case with the motor trade, however much you know, you can’t know more than them.

  4. It’s gratifying people have noticed the value of the coatings. I’d subliminally noticed Mazda’s new colour. Now I know why.
    The 2006 Astra has pre-Lutz paint. Current cars enjoy a finer finish. Toyota deserves some points for their heat-reflective paint and its strong colour. We need to see that on Aurises and Camries.

    1. Richard. The reason you hadn’t noticed is that you are always studying forms. However, what you were too blinkered to notice (and I too, I must admit) is that the forms all possessed colour as an essential element. In fact without it the forms would become totally unstable and turn into formless blobs. Fortunately, Mazda’s boffins were able to use their Large Pigment Cullender to separate and identify the colour element of form, which we can now identify as ℨ/(ℌ-Å).

  5. Is it only me or is the paint of the modern VAG offerings rather poor? The local Audi showroom (a very posh place, by the way) has, unfortunately for them, almost ideal conditions to inspect the paintwork of a car, and …. none of their brand-new offerings on exhibit had the sort of paint that i would have expected from a ‘premium’ offering, not only the cheaper Golf-esque models but the R8 and the large saloons as well.

  6. I work in a dealership selling both Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo brands. I see all these cars under a showroom light daily and can positively say that none of their paint finishes are as good as in the days of two pack. Some colours are worse than others, but Jaguar is particularly shoddy and highly prone to swirls and imperfections with most of their darker colours. Volvo on the other hand have their shades that look thin and watery in finish and take away from the quality appearance of cars such as the new S90/V90. Most have orange peel too.

    It’s a bug bear of mine, water based paint.

    1. Hi Jeff: the solution is more research on water-based paint, I think. The old stuff seems to have been costly and noxious.
      Having scanned academic research I see little activity in the last ten years.
      However, a scan of the patents listings reveals more activity. Coatings World is the go-to site for the latest paint news.

      The paint I once saw on a Silver Shadow impressed me. It looked like the body had been carved from a block of paint. There was no hint of metal underneath. I also saw some lavish paint on some Lancias at the Somers car museum in Denmark: deep, smooth, rich “like Archie Vicar’s Old Latakia”. If Jaguar and Volvo are not quite up to snuff, who is leading the way?

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