Development of sheet-coating technologies underway for cars and motorcycles

Courtesy of Kinto
Sheet-like paint is removed from a car body part.

In their efforts to achieve further decarbonization, some automakers are finally taking notice of the large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions from painting and drying new car bodies, and are developing new ways of applying sheet-like coatings to their vehicles.

Mazda Motor Corp. has been developing a new sheet application technology. The carmaker estimates that introducing the new technology will help reduce CO2 emissions by more than 50% from the current level. The company aims to reduce CO2 emissions from its factories to zero by 2035, and sees the new technology as a key to achieving the goal.

Honda Motor Co. plans by 2050 to stop motorcycle painting operations at its Kumamoto factory, which produces large-size motorcycles, and switch to sheet application coatings. While vehicles produced at the factory account for nearly 1% of its global production, Honda plans to establish the technology at the factory and roll it out to factories in other countries.

Toyota Motor Corp. has developed a technology to allow sprayed paint to harden like a sheet, which can be easily removed with a special tool. The technology makes it possible to change the design and appearance of a car according to user’s likes, such as changing the body color or using different colors for customized doors or hoods. Toyota plans to offer more than 100 colors to choose from. To begin with, the automaker plans to introduce the technology for cars of Toyota’s Kinto subscription service by the end of this year.

To use sheet-type coatings for more vehicles, there are some challenges. In order to eliminate gaps and misalignment when applying sheets to vehicle bodies, precision techniques that are not required in traditional vehicle painting processes are needed.

If sheets are not applied properly, they might detach from the car body during driving or cause corrosion.

Carmakers are now accelerating efforts to train engineers at their factories and develop sheet application machines.