Wednesday, June 19Serving the aftermarket

VIDEO: The development of vehicle paint

SEAT has released a new video and insight into how much work goes into developing paint tones, as it launches its new Arona SUV.

Three years of research, and enough knowledge and sensitivity to market trends. That is what it takes to ensure a paint colour on a new vehicle will not only look good, but be well received by the consumer.

Overall, 1,000 days pass between thinking of a colour tone to it being applied to a vehicle. When a new model is launched, for example the new SEAT Arona, the investigation into the colour options is as intense as designing the bodywork, the options and the overall finish. From market research to application, through lab testing, it’s just as intense.

1,000 litres

A specialised team analyses market trends and propose the range of colours of new models to be launched. “In addition to following trends, a lot of intuition also goes into defining a new shade. You have to feel the pulse on the street and run with it”, says Jordi Font from SEAT’s Colour and Trim department. A total of 1,000 litres of paint are required to create a new shade.

Science behind

Mixtures are carried out in the lab that makes the work of creating a new colour strictly an exercise in chemistry. In the case of the colour palette for the SEAT Arona, “By mixing 50 different pigments and metal particles we’ve created nearly 100 variations of the same colour to see which shade is the most suitable”, says Carol Gómez from the Colour and Trim department. “Colours get more sophisticated every day and the demand for customisation is a growing trend”, says Font. An example of this is the new SEAT Arona, which gives customers the opportunity of choosing from among more than 68 different colour combinations.

Mathematical considerations

Once the colour is defined, it has to be tested on a metal plate to verify its application and the visual effect it produces. “We check the depth and subtlety of the shade on plates that are exposed to sunlight and in the shade to make sure that the applied colour matches the one we designed”, adds Jesús Guzmán from the Colour and Trim department.

Surgery room

In the booths, cars are painted at a temperature of between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius. Two and a half kilos of paint is applied on each car in an automated process performed by 84 robots that takes six hours per vehicle. The paint booths feature a ventilation system that is similar to the ones found in a surgery room to prevent dust and other impurities from the exterior to settle on the freshly painted cars. Seven coats in all, each as thin as a hair width but as hard as a rock, which are baked in an oven at 140 degrees.

Cat scan 

Once painted, all it takes is 43 seconds to verify there are no deficiencies in the paint application. The vehicles pass through a scanner that checks for smooth surfaces and ensures there are no impurities.

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