Industry News

BMW Touts Powder ClearCoat

Published on 2002-03-27. Author : SpecialChem

A new automotive paint technology is responsible for the gleaming finishes of autos rolling off the BMW production line in Germany.

The final finish on 5- and 7-Series models produced at the Dingolfing assembly plant is an Enviracryl coating-- the world's first powder clear coat-- developed by PPG Industries. R&D magazine has cited it as one of 1998's most technologically significant new products.

Powder coatings were introduced in the auto industry during the 1980s, initially on components such as wheels and engine blocks; body primer applications began later.

But clear coat is a colorless finish applied to protect the automobile's color coating. Unlike conventional liquid coatings, PPG's powder product is solvent-free, can be recycled and requires no chemicals for treating waste created during the spray process, according to the company.

"Powder clear coat offers many advantages," says Ronald J. Isger, global manager of automotive powder technology at PPG's Strongsville, Ohio, coatings facility. "BMW acknowledges that our Enviracryl powder clear coat is a premium product appropriate for its premium cars."

Powder clear coats exceed requirements of United States EPA regulations and represent the most environment-compatible coatings technology available, according to Isger. Because over-spray can be recovered and reused, creating little or no waste, powder clear coats give automakers a cost-effective alternative to liquid clear coats, he adds, with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from application.

Powder clear coat is spray-applied electrostatically to grounded car bodies. Isger says powder particles remain in an excited state within the electrical field, contributing to a consistent coating thickness free of drips, runs or sags that can occur with liquids, so rejection rates for finish quality are low. Combinations of infrared and convection ovens melt the powder particles adhering to the car body, fusing them.

"Because of increasingly stringent environmental requirements, powder coatings are the fastest growing segment of the coatings industry," says Isger. "These products are environmentally friendly, but our goal for top coats, especially important to automotive customers, is to also match the finish quality of liquid coatings and exceed them in appearance and durability."

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