PPG joins forces for personalized vehicle colours

American Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries, the world“s leading producer of transportation coatings and a major global supplier of industrial and packaging coatings, and Behr Systems, Inc., part of the…

American Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries, the world“s leading producer of transportation coatings and a major global supplier of industrial and packaging coatings, and Behr Systems, Inc., part of the Durr AG companies, one of the world“s leading suppliers of manufacturing systems and manufacturing support services for the automobile industry, have joined forces to make personalized vehicle colours a reality with the development of the Dynamic FlexColors system. This system was demonstrated during PPG“s automotive coatings technology fair at its recently expanded application and development facility in Flint, Michigan, US. The design of the Dynamic FlexColors system enables coatings components and application technologies to work in conjunction to meet the level of flexibility required for the industry“s five-day car and mass customization concepts. “The automotive industry is using e-commerce to strive for the build-to-order or five-day car, but offering a large colour palette is still one of the major obstacles to achieving this goal because it is difficult to provide in a flexible manufacturing environment,” said Vincent P. Dattilo, manager of Global Applications Technology for PPG. “By reinventing the coatings technology and process, the Dynamic FlexColors system enables us to change vehicle colours on the fly to introduce specialized colours or replace less popular colours.” Currently, the automotive coating process mass produces almost identical vehicles painted in groups or blocks by colour. With each colour change, the paint line must be purged and cleaned, increasing material waste. Additionally, the colour palette is often limited to 10 colours or less, and personal or specialized colours are not feasible without prohibitive scheduling, handling, changeover downtime and significant cost. The patent-pending Dynamic FlexColors system operates on the same premise as a colour (computer) printer, adding pigment to coating materials at the paint atomizer. This unique painting system can be used to apply coloured primers, basecoats or tinted clearcoats. Tests conducted by PPG show coatings produced by the Dynamic FlexColors system substantially improve metallic colour and overall appearance of the vehicle body. It permits coatings to be applied completely by electrostatic bell atomizers in a variety of climate conditions with enhanced colour flexibility, coatings functionality and product performance by redesigning traditional three-layer primer and basecoat systems into a consolidated two-layer process. According to Dattilo, a prototype of the Dynamic FlexColors system is currently being tested at Behr“s Auburn Hills, Michigan, facility. Tests showed the process is feasible in traditional manufacturing plants and is cost-effective when production is focused on lower volume or niche vehicle painting. The companies expect the system to become commercialized in 2003. PPG and Behr are currently working together to enable existing higher volume production plants to benefit from flexible vehicle painting with the development of the Dynamic MiniBlend system. With this system, large tanks are replaced by smaller speciality day tanks for low-running colours and are connected to the Dynamic FlexColors system. The colours are mixed in the tanks on a just-in-time basis. On the forefront of innovation in the areas of coatings, corrosion protection and environmental application concerns, PPG has long been a leader in helping automakers advance technologies and processes used in the application of automotive coatings.