Paint and coating supplier develops new clearcoats to improve paint protection
Richard T. Wilson
PPG Industries has developed two new clearcoat technologies for automotive paint applications. Optech and CeramiClear clearcoats are already on some 2003 models and will be more readily available in coming model years. The company also offers several different paint effects and is working towards several other technological innovations for the future.
Optech clearcoat is made up of a single component designed to provide improved resistance to mars and environmental etch. According to PPG, the high solids formulation, developed over a six year period, allows it to bond with an adhesive to join the windshield, backlight and sidelight windows to vehicle bodies thereby eliminating the need for a urethane primer commonly used to ensure adhesion.
Optech also meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for windshield retention during roll-over accidents and 30 mph crashes.
The technology can improve scratch and etch resistance characteristics by approximately 25 to 100 percent when compared to conventional one-component clearcoats that are currently used, says PPG.
Optech is currently being used in two plants in North America.
CeramiClear is a binary clearcoat composition designed to offer long-term gloss and durability. According to PPG engineers, this is the first automotive clearcoat to use nanoparticle technology.
Dennis Taljan, global director of decorative products for PPG, says the existing test procedures had to be heightened to properly test CeramiClear.
This works with an automotive plant's existing waterborne basecoat, primer and electrocoat layers and can be used with a conventional circulating system, says PPG.
"The coating does not increase emission levels or introduce new emissions to the waste stream and can reduce an automaker's total cost by decreasing inplant damage, buffing and dealership touch-up," Taljan says.
CeramiClear can still be damaged by keys but most day-to-day use including degradation from ultraviolet radiation, acid rain and salt is eliminated.
Additionally, reported test results show CeramiClear holds onto more than 80 percent of its gloss appearance after several months of weathering and being run through the car wash.
The development of paint effects also garners a considerable amount of PPG's time. Effects currently employed by the company include; aluminum flake which creates sparkles, colored aluminum flake which has an iridescent look to it, Mica or Pearl which refracts the light and finally flex pigment, originally used in currency, which can create a color changing effect by giving off slightly different hues at alternate angles.
The PPG Color team has three components; the design team, technical team, color formulation team. Of the three the color formulation team is most concerned with scheduling and deadlines. The color designers and technical team work through the year as well but they are largely working three years ahead.
Integration of the color team and paint appliers is crucial. PPG sends consulting staff out to work in the plants where its paints are being used to ensure they are applied in the proper conditions such as shifts in temperature and air quality. Missteps with the application technology itself can cause ineffective applications of the color or other layers.
Another step in eliminating problems on the assembly line comes from research done at PPG's application facility in Flint, Mich. Referred to as "process proof" the plant receives application equipment from the various companies it supplies and tests them. This allows technical staff to see what mixtures work best through specific robotic applicators. It also allows them to work towards greater transfer efficiency of the paints or chemical layers to the surface. The layers that comprise an automotive paint job are; (from bottom to top) a layer of phosphate, followed by an electrocoat layer, the primer, the color treatment itself also referred to as the base coat and then the clearcoat.
A technology PPG is working towards for the future is the combination of the layers. New chemical formulas are being developed that would provide all the same attributes of the 5-layer process while cutting down on costs by reducing the overall amount of material used as well as reducing the application times. Taljan sees the development of this compression of layers as a crucial breakthrough for the years to come.
Transfer efficiency is another big concern on Taljan's mind. This is simply a measure of what percentage of the paint actually makes it onto the surface being colored or coated. While PPG contends it has rather high percentage on most lines this is obviously a clear cut place to look to make improvements. Every fraction of a percentage gained in the area is money saved rather than money being sprayed from a robotic applicator into the air never to be seen again.
It is with such thoughts in mind that PPG works towards developing a powder clearcoat rather than a liquid formula. The upshot of this technology would be a 100 percent transfer efficiency. Any portion of the powder that failed to adhere to the car would simply be recollected from the plant floor to be used again for another coat. This is not a possibility when speaking of liquid based clearcoat agents - there isn't a technology to recollect any wasted percentage there.
Most Popular North American Vehicle Colors Silver Reigns Supreme
Silver wins gold -- Dupont Automotive annual survey puts silver on top
Silver is once again the most popular color among new car buyers and actually reached a three-year peak during 2002, according to the DuPont Automotive Color Popularity Report -- an annual study of vehicle color trends.
Most popular in the luxury, full and sports/ compact segments, silver is No. 2 in the light truck, van and sport/utility segment.
Silver will remain the color of choice for several years but will see new variations as warmer gold colors and cooler blue hues are added. The second most popular color was white while black is No. 3 in North America.
In Europe, blue follows silver as the second most chosen color. Blue is moving up the ranks in North America replacing green hues. Dupont's trend research also shows red metallic shades gaining in popularity among luxury and sport compact segments. Reds express enthusiasm and energy, Dupont says. Light brown is also becoming more popular, especially as it is infused with gold metallic effects.