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.