Audi started testing an overspray-free method, which saves energy, time and resources | Robotics

Car painting process went through several revolutions. A hundred years ago cars used to be painted manually with brushes and rollers. Later on a spray painting era started, but the job was still in the hands of experienced professionals. Nowadays cars in factories are sprayed very accurately by robots, but it still involves some manual labour, especially when the car is supposed to be painted two colours. But Audi is changing that.

Applying a two-tone paintjob is going to be easier with Audi’s new overspray-free method. Image credit: Audi

Nowadays there are many cars on the market featuring a dual tone design. This means that the pillars and the roof can be painted a different colour from the rest of the body. This, of course, makes the car appear more modern, more dynamic, but takes much more time to complete and, therefore, is a more expensive option. It is because application two-tone paint scheme is a two stage process. At first, one colour is applied and then it has to be masked, usually by hand, to not get contaminated with overspray when the second colour is sprayed on. Audi has launched a testing programme for overspray-free painting method in a pilot paint shop at the plant in Ingolstadt.

So how do you paint two colours without any masking? Well, it obviously requires a high-tech approach. At first, as usual, one base colour is applied. Then a laser makes a brazed seam between the roof and the side‑panel frame, separating the two different colours. Finally, a robot‑controlled high‑precision instrument now measures the laser‑brazed seam and a special applicator then applies the black paint directly to the car body in individual strips with millimetre accuracy. This means that the robot can spray right to the line with no overspray – there is no mist when applying those individual strips. And so the German manufacturer can enjoy a quicker, cheaper and more environmentally friendly painting process.

The traditional method with masking materials is actually quite wasteful. First of all, all that masking material gets thrown away immediately after the car is painted. Secondly, robots do spray on the masking material as well, to paint right to the seam, which means that paint is wasted as well. Finally, energy is wasted too, because someone has to apply the masking material, robots are working unnecessarily long. But it is likely that Audi’s clients will experience some benefits as well.

Because two-tone design now will be easier to achieve, Audi hopes to present clients with more customization options. Currently some models are only offered with black roof, but in the future there may be more options. Audi plans to put this new method into production next year already.


Source: Audi

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