Most car manufacturers, including Ford, use a “three wet” process to paint their vehicles – primer, color coat and clear coat. Ford has announced that it has developed a “two wet” process that combines the color coat and clear coat into one operation, reducing painting time and saving millions of gallons of water in the process. This process is first being used on the new Ford Transit van, but should eventually make its way to every assembly plant under the Blue Oval.
In the new system, the primer requires only a few minutes of to air dry before the finish coat is applied. Ford claims the finish resulting from its “two wet” technology is more durable and scratch resistant than conventional paint and will retain is gloss far longer.
Using this revolutionary technology, vehicles are only baked once instead of twice, saving more than 48 mW of electricity annually. That’s enough to power 3,400 homes for a year, give or take, though the benefits don’t stop there. Usually, the paint shop at the factory uses water in a wet scrubber to remove paint particles from the air. But Ford has also pioneered a dry scrubber and filter system that will save 10 million gallons of water per year, and also removes 99% of particulates from the air in the paint area, lowering CO2 emissions by almost 50%.
On traditional assembly plants, the vehicle bodies must be physically removed from the assembly line and dropped into the electrostatic primer tank by four chains. But in the new process, the body stays on its assembly line carriage and both go through the primer stage together. This reduces production time and allows the paint facility at the factory to be as much as 320 feet shorter than usual.
At present, the new painting process is being used on all white Ford Transit vans manufactured at Ford’s Kansas City facility, which accounts for 80% of Transit production. All other colors will continue to be painted using the standard “three wet” system until Ford and its paint suppliers figure out how to apply the new process to colors other than white.
Ford is committed to reducing the CO2 emissions and water usage associated with building its vehicles by 30% in the next 5 years, and the “two wet” paint process is a major step forward toward that goal.
Source: Green Car Congress