Beauty Is Skin Deep

December 16, 2008 | By | Reply More


With new technology comes new challenges. Also, with new developments come new methods and procedures. We must keep pace with these changes, or we become obsolete.

Automotive refinishing is no different. In an effort to reduce the negative environmental impact of solvent-borne finishes, chemical companies have invested in new water-borne paint systems. German laws that appeared in the ’90s were
further incentive.

BMW built its Spartanburg, South Carolina plant implementing these new water-borne finishes. While they are more environmentally-friendly, and carry some time-saving benefits, they do require different procedures and techniques for application.

In the past, solvent was used as the fluid base for automotive paint finishes. Solvents were mixed with pigments and applied through spray guns to the desired panel. The solvent would evaporate and leave the paint behind. Now, water is the medium through which the paint is sprayed onto the vehicle. As it dries, the water evaporates leaving the paint finish behind. Conventional solvent-borne primers and high-solid clear coats are still the norm, but the color coat is migrating towards water-borne technology.

Benefits of water-borne

Solvent-borne paints need other components to apply paint to a panel. These “Volatile Organic Compounds” (VOCs) are released during the process and contaminate the environment. In the ’90s, the German government mandated the use of water-borne paints, so the technology and development has been happening for the past two decades.  New regulations in California have reduced VOC limits, so body shops there need to adopt a low-VOC alternative. Water-borne paints are currently the only paints capable of meeting these low VOC levels. Aside from regulation, there are many other benefits of water-borne paints that will make the transition easier and more cost-effective for collision repair facilities. One of the benefits of these is less overspray, which can reduce paint costs up to 20%. Color matching is also a huge benefit, especially for BMW vehicles.

BMW automobiles use water-borne paints during the manufacturing process. These have different chemical and physical characteristics than what’s available for repair since large qualities are pumped to sprayers on a production line. Also the paint is baked on at 650 deg. F. These characteristics are not compatible with after-market repair, so how can we come as close as possible to the OEM paint finish? BMW has developed ColorSystem to provide a factory-like paint finish for use with aftermarket paint application techniques. Marketing a water-borne paint system may help with customer relations in this age of environmental friendliness. Also, paint supplied by BMW will help maintain vehicle value. Another point is that this will please insurance companies looking to guarantee the repair they just paid for.

BMW’s ColorSystem paint has met or exceeded the quality control criteria for chip resistance, gloss and ultraviolet protection compared to their OEM paint. Many body shops already using ColorSystem comment on the high-gloss finish, shorter drying times and near-perfect color matching. Too keep up with this new paint technology, you are going to need to change the way you do things.

Implementing water-borne


Login to continue reading this article.

Not a member? Register for FREE access.

Lost your password?

Category: BMW TechDrive, General

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.