Paint System Developments from BASF for the Automotive Industry

Automotive manufacturing is looking to the future and aims to expand on the already varied materials that are used, setting its’ sights on lightweight construction. The investigation has started, looking into the widespread uses of plastics and light metals, for example aluminium and magnesium.

As a result, what used to be an auto body made entirely of steel is changing into a ‘patchwork’ body made of different speciality materials each of which must have an identical finish when painted.

Primers

The challenge is to find a paint system that provides an identical finish on each of these different materials. This challenge is being overcome by BASF by using a variety of primers. The first function of the primer is to provide a perfectly smooth surface on which to apply the subsequent decorative coats of the paint system, by using the primer-surfacer. (A colouring basecoat is then applied followed by a protective clearcoat). The primer-surface is extremely important as a good primer-surface system will cover surface properties that are specific to the type of substrate being coated. The differences in the smoothness of substrates may be enough to change the perception of the finished colour.

Electronic Networking for Customer Satisfaction

An electronic network, 'ENSPHERE' (Electronically Networked Systems for Process Harmonisation and Enhanced Reliability) has been developed which can link the customers’ lines with test results obtained in BASF laboratories and the associated manufacturing parameters in order to produce closed control loops. By using the closed control loops the process conditions can be linked to the manufacturing conditions of the paint (this process can be re-adjusted to bring it back ‘on target’ if necessary).

Ensuring Colour Consistency

The other new application is 'ColorCARE' (Color Controlled Accuracy and Reliability’) which ensures that the coating shade on each vehicle is identical, not only from different manufacturing sites but also between vehicles coated under different process conditions, such as for bodies and hang-on parts coated by different processes.

Scratch Resistance

The issue of scratch resistance is also of high importance. Modern materials have to fulfil a high standard to reach demand of quality in the finish. It ensures success in the marketplace as the appearance of a vehicle’s finish, along with its styling are the key elements of strong branding.

Fantasy Colors – Iridescent Effect Paints

A surprise is in store for BASF customers as five new iridescent effect paints (‘Kolibri’, ‘Libelle’, ‘Vulcano’, ‘Python’ and ‘Smaragd’) have been developed in the Glasurit Fantasy Colors range to give car finishes a new and exciting look. These new colour finishes shine with a variety of different colours when viewed from various angles, for example turquoise to blue to pink, violet to green to orange or red to gold to yellow/green.

These unusual effects are achieved through the use of light interference pigments, which consists of aluminium flakes with several varied thickness of coats surrounding them, therefore influencing the refraction of light which produces the various colours.

Fantasy Colours consists of solvent and water-based products and are applied in the same way as other effect paints. As the paint system consists of a primer, a filler-surfacer, an undercoat, a basecoat and a clearcoat the resulting finishes can be easily repaired.

What has BASF been doing in 2000?

BASF Coatings Division have increased their worldwide sales by 10% to 2.2bn Euro an all time record. Coil coatings has a worldwide market of approximately 400k tonnes, more than a third each is taken by Europe (34%) and the NAFTA region (37%).

Even though there is a decline in results from South America due to the difficult economic situation there, the company has largely improved the sales and operating results in North America and Europe.

A rigorous investment programme of 385million Euro over the next five years has secured the necessary capital to continue the company's growing strategy (acquisitions are not yet included in that figure). Regionally it will be allocated; (Europe 52%, North America 28%, South America 12%, Asia/Pacific 8%).

1999 was a busy year for BASF they took over the coil coatings company Norsk Hydro ASA and by the end of '99 acquired the industrial coatings activities of Rohm and Haas, USA enhancing their position in the coil coatings sector.

Global production

BASF NOF Coatings joint venture in Japan has made the company the first western coatings manufacturer with production and marketing in Japan. This has strengthened their market position in the automotive OEM and industrial groups, (for example coil, plastic, wood and powder coatings). BASF aims to head towards the large Japanese auto makers introducing new technologies to the market, such as waterborne coatings.

North Carolina is the base for another of BASF’s ventures. At the end of October 2000, a new powder coatings plant was up and running at the Morganton site. The plant has an initial capacity of 10k tonnes and has created more than 50 new jobs. The powder coatings are used for a wide variety of appliances from household appliances to pipeline industry and other industrial applications.

The BASF Shanghai coatings joint venture has become the main supplier in China for automotive OEM coatings to Shanghai Volkswagen and more recently, Shanghai General Motors and Tianjin Mini Auto Works (Daihatsu), rapidly increasing their sales.

In India, BASF supplies 80% of Indian automobile production as well as supplying paint to Ford in the Philippines.

Following a further good year in the North American market, among all of the Big Three auto makers, the company has won contracts to supply additional plants in the coming years.

Eco-Friendly Materials

A trend has been established towards eco-efficient materials. In Brazil, BASF’s waterborne basecoat factory in Sao Bernardo initiated this. The factory is servicing the new South American plants of DaimlerChrysler and Audi. Local production is securing the company a leading position with modern coatings systems in the threshold market.

BASF Schwarzheide GmbH has been working ‘flat out’ to meet the growing demand of eco-efficient coatings in Europe. More than 10k tonnes/y of waterbome coatings are planned to be produced in the future at this site. BASF now has a total worldwide waterborne basecoat capacity of at least 40k tonnes/y for the automotive OEM segment alone.

At their Tultitlan site, Mexico, production of automotive OEM coatings will have doubled from the present figure of 7500 tonnes to around 15k tonnes/y by the year 2003.

Projects concentrating on UV curing technology are underway in all areas of BASF. It offers an important and very promising combination with coil coating for achieving the high coating speed and two dimensional surface, typical of that application.

Primary author: J. Murray

Source: Steel Times, pg. 69, February 2001.

For more information on this source please visit DMG World Media.

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