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A Fresh Coat


Toyota's Thames Vehicle Operations, home of Signature Class vehicle refurbishment operations has taken further steps to improve its environmental and social impacts through the installation of a new waterborne paint system.  

The vehicle paint process involves a primer, followed by between two and four colour basecoats and a final double coat of clear finish coatings.

The switch to waterborne paints replaces the solvent basecoats and reduces the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), resulting in improved air quality.

As well as noting improvements in its environmental impacts, the new waterborne process has more far reaching positive effects in overall efficiency and energy savings.

Peter Manning, Manager - Thames Vehicle Operations, says, “We have achieved around a 50 per cent reduction in solvent usage and around 40 per cent in energy savings.

“There is also greater efficiency and quality (especially the colour matching) of our vehicle refurbishment process which we believe will bring significant energy savings from the shorter bake times.”

With the new process, the baking cycle has been reduced by around 35 per cent.

Another benefit of the new waterborne process is that colour matching of vehicles has been improved.

The drying process involves air movement in combination with heat.  Water evaporates from the panel surface. As the paint film forms, it creates pressure and forces the water particles / molecules / droplets out. Air above the panel becomes saturated with water, preventing evaporation; then with the drying process the saturated air is blown away, allowing evaporation of the water particles / molecules / droplets to continue.

Additionally, part of the new process involves a new rapid air drying system as opposed to the previous conventional bake system.

“The benefit of the rapid air drying system is the adjustability of the drying of all vehicles including full resprays and less chance of creating solvent popping. This happens when the layers of basecoat are not sufficiently dry between coats trap solvent between them, which then escapes during the bake process, causing the popping.

The new drying system also breaks up the laminar air flow, creating a more constant heat distribution and cabin temperature, much like your oven at home, which cooks quicker on fanbake,”says Peter.

The team at the Thames facility have reported that they have noticed colour matching has improved, and the new drying process has created fewer issues with repaints, not to mention the application process being easier.

While the process itself has had positive impacts on achieving greater environmental efficiencies, it is equally important that the customer can be assured that their Signature Class vehicle is painted to the highest standard.