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Automotive Paint Technologies on the Horizon

Posted by Mike Bonner

Jan 7, 2018 1:03:00 PM


Exciting things are coming in the near future in the field of automotive paint.  Over the next few years, automotive paint finishers will be able to offer truly stunning new paint technologies that will greatly improve both the appearance and the function of their vehicles.


What do consumers have to look forward to?

Super-reflective paint

At the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2015, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab made painting history.  They presented a new glass-based paint (made of silica and potassium silicate) which, rather than absorbing the sun’s rays like most paints do, reflects them.  This environmentally-friendly paint will keep cars cool, even in blistering summer heat.  And, it’s available now on select models.

Self-cleaning paint

How would you like to never have to wash your car again?  In 2016, Nissan announced that it had developed a super-hydrophobic self-cleaning car paint, the result of prototype experiments conducted in 2014.  Similar to Rustoleum’s “Never Wet” product, nanoscopic peaks in the surface of this paint make it difficult for water, dirt, oil, and other materials to adhere, so they simply slide off instead. As a result, the car gets less dirty than a vehicle without the paint, as demonstrated in this video.

Self-healing paint

Never having to wash your car again is one thing, but what if you didn’t have to worry about scratches?  Nissan has also experimented with a self-healing paint that repairs scratches in its surface – much as your skin does – only faster!  It’s formulated using a material called chitosan, derived from the chitin in the shells of crabs and lobsters.  When the surface gets scratched, the chitosan in the paint, activated by the sun, stitches together the damage via synthetic chains created in conjunction with other compounds in the paint, healing itself in less than an hour!  This technology is still being perfected, so you’ll have to stay on the lookout for run-away shopping carts in the parking lot for a while longer.

Heat-sensitive color-changing paint

Heat-sensitive color-changing paint, or thermochromic paint, changes color as a function of temperature. Below the threshold temperature, the paint appears as one solid color, but when it surpasses that temperature, it turns transparent, showing whatever colors or images have been painted underneath. This can result in some very interesting effects, as demonstrated in this video.  Like self-healing and self-cleaning technologies, thermochromic paints are not yet available on the mass market.

How will these new paints affect automotive finishers?

While exciting, these new technologies will further complicate the automotive finishing process.  This will make process control even more critical than it is today to ensure the desired results.

Saint Clair Systems has tested the relationship between paint temperature and finish quality in the field, and in the lab, and the resulting data shows that paint temperature is a significant factor when it comes to consistent and repeatable surface finish quality.  So if you’re a finisher contemplating one of these new technologies, or just looking to improve your results with your current technology, contact us to discuss how adding paint temperature to your list of controlled variables can create better outcomes.

If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to paint temperature control, or you’d like advice regarding your particular application, contact Saint Clair Systems directly.

Learn more about identifying and preventing the cause of automotive paint problems. Get your free copy of our Orange Peel Prevention eGuide.

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Topics: Viscosity, automotive painting, Paint Temperature Control Series, paint temperature control, automotive paint finishing, future technologies

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