What does it take to colour a new car?


Colour is a big thing for mod­ern car­mak­ers. But es­pe­cially for Span­ish brand Seat, which goes out of its way to show­case out­there colours on new mod­els – like the Arona baby-SUV be­ing launched in New Zealand this year.

Seat says it takes more than three years to cre­ate a new colour, start­ing with a mar­ket study and fin­ish­ing when the paint is ac­tu­ally sprayed on the car in the fac­tory.

A spe­cialised team starts out by analysing mar­ket trends and us­ing a bit of in­tu­ition to cre­ate pos­si­ble new colours for a forth­com­ing model.

It takes about 1000 litres of paint to come up with the fi­nal op­tions.

Mix­tures are car­ried out in the lab. In the case of the colour pal­ette for the Arona, ‘‘by mix­ing 50 dif­fer­ent pig­ments and metal par­ti­cles we created nearly 100 vari­a­tions of the same colour to see which shade is the most suit­able’’, says Carol Go´mez from the Color and Trim de­part­ment.

Once the colour is de­fined, it has to be tested on a metal plate to ver­ify its ap­pli­ca­tion and the vis­ual ef­fect it pro­duces.

‘‘We check the depth and sub­tlety of the shade on plates that are ex­posed to sun­light and in the shade to make sure that the ap­plied colour matches the one we de­signed.’’

In paint booths, cars are painted at a tem­per­a­ture of be­tween 21-25 de­grees.

Two and a half ki­los of paint is ap­plied on each car in an au­to­mated process per­formed by 84 ro­bots that takes six hours.

The paint booths fea­ture a ventilation sys­tem that is sim­i­lar to the ones found in a surgery room to pre­vent dust and other im­pu­ri­ties from the ex­te­rior to set­tle on the freshly painted cars.

There are seven coats in all, each as thin as a hair width but as hard as a rock, which are baked in an oven at 140 de­grees.

Once painted, it takes just 43 sec­onds to ver­ify there are no de­fi­cien­cies in the paint ap­pli­ca­tion. The ve­hi­cles pass through a scan­ner that checks for smooth sur­faces and en­sures there are no im­pu­ri­ties.

Around 2.5kg of paint is ap­plied to a new car, in seven in­di­vid­ual coats over six hours.

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