People often think about paint when they think about the outside of their cars. After all, many people feel like their car's paint color says a lot about them as a person. Various paint companies report that neutral colors such as black, silver, gray and white are the most popular both in the United States and worldwide.
Although a car's paint is what stands out, it's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the finishing process in automotive manufacturing. Carmakers can't think about just the paint; if they did, there would be a lot of unprotected car paint out there. Think of it this way: We've all seen houses, even some fairly new ones, with chipped and peeling paint. Automotive paint, however, generally holds up pretty well, even though cars get driven in all sorts of weather and hit with all sorts of debris.
The reason automotive paint tends to last long is that it's just one step of many involved in the finishing process. Most factory car painting is also done by robots to ensure a uniform application and to get the job done quickly and efficiently. The application of the paint is very important. It needs to go on the body of the car smoothly because bubbles or ripples end up weakening the paint. Robotic equipment is best at getting a solid, uniform coat of paint on the car, so it's an important aspect of automotive finishing.
In addition to the application, the other key to finishing technology is the chemistry that goes into it. Not only do carmakers need paints with rich colors, but the paints have to be able to withstand extreme conditions. Car paint has to be able to look good after being left in the sun for days on end, coated with ice-melting chemicals and driven through dust or hailstorms.
Keep reading to learn more about recent advances in the chemistry of car paint and automotive finishing.