Industry News

BASF Coatings' Finishes Make Luxury Dashboards Gleam

Published on 2009-03-23. Author : SpecialChem

MÜNSTER -- From the speedometer and tachometer to the fuel gauge and the steering wheel, the dashboard of the car contains all kinds of important indicators, displays and controls. While dashboards used to be made of wood, today, at least in compact and mid-range cars, they are generally made of plastic. But once you go beyond the mid-range, you will also encounter cockpit variants in luxury wood designs.A special clearcoat is used to ensure the brilliant gloss of wooden dashboards. BASF Coatings is one of the world's leading manufacturers of high-quality wood trim coatings. "We supply our coating materials to the major manufacturers of wood trim parts for the automotive industry," said Reinhard Wiesing, head of the lab for wood trim and piano coatings at BASF Coatings.

The coatings used on the vehicle interior make a dazzling impression not just because of their glossy and luxurious appearance, but also because of their high level of sturdiness and scratch resistance. They share these properties with piano coatings, which are used to give upright and grand pianos their luxurious appearance. For this reason, up until just a few years ago, the same coatings used to finish pianos were used for dashboards. In the automotive sector, however, additional requirements were added. Since then, BASF Coatings has produced two separate product lines. One of the special properties of coatings for vehicle interiors is their high elasticity, which ensures that the finish can even withstand fluctuations in temperature from -35°C to +90°C without incurring any damage. In addition, the finish must be very low in emissions, an important precondition for parts used in vehicle interiors.

The basis of the clearcoat used for wood add-on parts is unsaturated polyester resins, which at BASF Coatings are condensed from alcohols and acids at 200°C.Additives are then added to the resins. The additives ensure that the paint does not sag when it is applied to vertical surfaces and also influence the speed at which the paint cures.

In order for the dashboard to radiate a deep luxurious appearance, the painter must apply between five and eight layers of paint. This means that in order to coat one square meter of wood trim, the painter needs the same amount of paint as that required to completely coat an average size car body with clearcoat. Once the coating of a wood trim part has cured and has been sanded and polished, it has a film thickness of approximately one millimeter and is thus about 20 times thicker than the clearcoat on a car body.

Source: BASF

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