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