Improving the process of applying coatings and related services enables our customers to increase productivity and sustainability in their own operations.
Not only do we work to identify sustainable materials and formulations to provide our customers with high-performance products, we are focused on improving coatings application and process technologies to achieve sustainability benefits.
Reducing the Paint Line Footprint
Axalta’s coating systems are used by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the transportation and industrial markets around the world. Our customers are continuously looking for ways to improve productivity and reduce energy, emissions, and waste, all while safely operating the paint lines at their sites. However, as more novel substrate materials are introduced, like plastic or carbon fiber components in light vehicles, the coating process becomes more difficult. Axalta’s Harmonized Coating TechnologiesTM are developed to meet these challenges and provide benefits to our customers.
For light vehicle manufacturers, the paint shop portion of the manufacturing process has historically been the most energy intensive, accounting for up to 70 percent of an automotive assembly plant’s energy consumption. In helping our customers meet their sustainability goals to reduce energy and emissions in their operations, Axalta’s Harmonized Coating TechnologiesTM allow OEMs to reduce the size, number of steps, amount of time, and energy typically needed for painting vehicles.
- Axalta’s 3-Wet System uses a specially formulated waterborne coating that enables successive coats to be applied on top of the prior coat while still wet, or that require only a minimal “flash” dry step between coats. This innovation allows customers to replace larger baking ovens with smaller, lower-energy flash zones and can result in substantial savings in energy-related operating costs—anywhere from 15 to 30 percent—and reduced capital expenditures associated with the installation of baking ovens. The use of a waterborne coating system also reduces VOC emissions by up to 50 percent compared with a traditional solventborne coating system.
- Axalta’s 2-Wet Monocoat System combines the paint performance of a clearcoat-over-basecoat system with the productivity of a monocoat process. The process begins with a layer of 2-Wet primer followed by a no-heat, ambient flash. The vehicle is then coated with the 2-Wet Monocoat coating followed by a bake cycle. Coating applications are reduced from three to two and the number of drying steps from two to one. By removing steps in the painting process, the 2-Wet Monocoat System is designed to increase productivity with reduced energy use and paint shop footprint.
- When incorporating low-bake coating technologies, the paint shop baking oven temperature can be reduced to as low as 80°C, allowing plastic components to be painted with the vehicle body. This process improvement eliminates offline coating processes and provides further energy reductions from the ovens. For customers, incorporating more plastic parts enables lower costs and overall fewer CO2 emissions from the vehicle due to lightweighting.
In 2019, Axalta completed the first commercial launch of a direct-to-plastic, low-bake, basecoat/clearcoat system, which significantly reduces overall cycle times for customers. We will continue to work with our customers to understand their priorities, sustainability goals, and visions for their next-generation transportation technologies to continue to provide them sustainable and high-performance coating systems.
Advancing the Science of Color
For more than 150 years, Axalta has continued to advance the science of color. For body shops around the world, color matching is a critical component to providing an efficient and high-quality repair to their customers. With advancements in automotive color such as custom pearl and flake effects, color matching can be challenging.
Axalta’s spectrophotometer technology, Acquire™ Quantum EFX, allows refinishers the ability to better color match in their process of prepping a vehicle for repair. Since the launch of our first generation of spectrophotometers in 2005, Axalta has sold more than 60,000 devices to help refinishers better match colors and improve productivity.
Axalta’s color retrieval system, utilizing the Acquire™ Quantum EFX spectrophotometer, is digitizing the body shop industry and improving color matching by removing subjective visual evaluations. This innovative product provides the first color and sparkle measurement technology, enabling superior color and appearance reproduction of OEM factory paint finishes on light vehicles. The system packs novel color technology into a lighter and faster unit to help customers create more accurate and faster color matches, allowing for more vehicle throughput in body shops.
Axalta is proud to have won a Bronze Edison Best New Product Award in the Materials Science and Engineering category for Acquire™ Quantum EFX in 2019. This award honors products that demonstrate excellence in technological innovation, new product and service development, marketing, and human-centered design.
To further demonstrate Axalta’s expertise in color, we annually publish a Global Automotive Color Popularity Report that identifies the latest trends in color and design. First published in 1953, it is the longest-running and most comprehensive report of its kind in the automotive industry.
Each year, Axalta names our Global Automotive Color of the Year, taking into account technology trends and consumer preferences. The 2018 Color of the Year, StarLite, a bright white, was chosen for its light and reflective properties to enable vehicles to be more easily detected by LIDAR systems. Sahara, our 2019 Color of the Year, is a warm golden bronze color that was chosen for its ease of use in vehicle customization, both in manufacturing facilities and in the aftermarket.
In our Industrial business, we continue to report on wood coatings color trends through our Wood Vibes color collections focused on home fashion trends. Our global color specialists and expertise in advanced color forecasting helps us formulate the next generation of colors our customers and their consumers expect.
To learn more about Axalta’s past Colors of the Year, color popularity, and color trends, please visit our corporate website.