Waterborne Paint: Green is the Color of Savings

October 5, 2015 | Reply More

The cost-effectiveness of using BMW-approved waterborne paint has been improving at a rapid pace over the last decade. The primary reason to use the technology is no longer just environmental protection, but is now the significant savings it offers to collision repair facility operators. Waterborne paint saves labor time, energy cost, materials expense, and reduces color match or panel blending problems.


Use tape and masking paper that is water resistant. If waterborne paint soaks through the tape or paper, it will adhere to vehicle surfaces underneath.

European automakers began eliminating volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are ozone pre-cursors, from automotive coatings in the 1990s. The U.S. EPA jumped on the bandwagon in 1999 with strict limits on VOC content in all automotive coatings.

The limits are, of course, a good thing. VOCs contribute significantly to formation of ground-level ozone, which is a major component of the smog we see in high car-count cities. Breathing ozone can damage lungs, inflame asthma, and cause other respiratory problems.

Waterborne paints meet all current limits for automotive coatings VOC content. We have come down from approximately 75% solvent in conventional basecoats to only 10% solvent in waterborne basecoats, and have reduced solvent by up to 60% in clearcoats.

Out of the Solvent Fog


Because waterborne is a thinner paint film than solvent, it tends to lay down in cracks or any other flaws in the surface, changing the light refraction. Sanding with a finer grit – 800 or finer – is critical to getting the surface smoothness needed for painting.

BMW became the first OEM to use waterborne paints in the U.S when in 2010 it began using the technology in its factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In addition to the environmental benefits of cutting VOC emissions, the BMW switch from solvent to waterborne basecoat allowed a new way of applying primer that significantly reduced equipment, paint application and heat curing costs.

BMW factories have sophisticated control of temperature, humidity, and other paint environment conditions, plus robotic technologies that work with the precision of the best human painter, but faster. Could waterborne cost reduction benefits also apply to the aftermarket, where collision shops have to be more adaptable to variations in local weather impact on their painting environment, don’t have robot technology, because they typically paint only a part of the vehicle body, and have color match objectives that the factory doesn’t have to address?

With BMW ColorSystem, the answer is emphatically yes. ColorSystem is a water-based line that provides a factory-like finish, with shorter drying times than conventional solvent, excellent color match, high gloss, plus high solids and UV protection for durability.

Better Coverage


Unlike a solvent resin, which if clumped together will re-dissolve in the presence of more solvent, a clump of waterborne paint that has dried will not re-dissolve. Make sure to filter your paint after mixing, in addition to any mesh filtration that is built into your gun.

As solvent content of basecoats came down, solids increased. Waterborne basecoats contain


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Category: Structural, the bimmer pub

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