When you’re browsing in a car showroom, it’s hard to deny the appeal of a premium exterior ‘paint job’ and even the most seasoned car enthusiast’s head can be turned by an eye-catching, premium finish. But for the consumer, it’s easy to overlook the part interior coatings play in adding any significant value.

A Home From Home

For many people, their car is a key facet of everyday life and before the pandemic struck, research showed that the average UK citizen spent approximately 293 hours a year behind the wheel. That’s a very long period of time spent sat in a space equivalent in size to a fridge-freezer. So, it’s increasingly important that car manufacturers treat interiors with the same, if not superior attention-to-detail, as they do the exterior design.

Every car has its own unique personality, but in simple terms, automotive interior coatings occupy two key functions: providing a high-quality finish that adds value and comfort to your personal space and create a warm, tactical feel. In a modern age where the automotive industry will soon be reliant on hybrid and EV technology; the quality of finishes for interior parts, such as speaker grilles and trims, will no doubt become even more crucial to the perceived and actual quality of the vehicle.

“We believe that there are somewhere on the order of two to four times the coating opportunities in EV compared to conventional combustion engine vehicles” – Peter VotrubaDrzal, Global Technical Director for PPG.

EV Technology Driving Innovation In Coatings

Those involved in automotive design will know that the industry is currently undergoing what is arguably the most significant transformation in over 50 years. It may not be as obvious as the sudden disappearance of the combustion engine, but coatings will have a critical part to play in enabling the advancement of new EV technologies. Coatings have a number of traditional, practical benefits, but looking beyond that, new technology in coatings is already catalysing the development of new functionality and aesthetic features, including componentry and easy-clean surfaces for interiors, as well as heat-resistant specialized ceramic-based coatings for hard wearing exterior parts such as exhaust meshes.

UV Coatings – Though relatively new to the Automotive industry, this technology has existed in other industries for more than 30 years – vinyl flooring is a good example. UV is a process to cure coatings by a chemical process initiated and sustained by UV energy. In less than a minute the coating is converted from a liquid to a solid, a significant reduction on typical cure times.

E-coatings – Electrophorectic coating is a method of painting that uses electrical current to deposit paint on the surface. They can be used both as a primer and top coat, delivering outstanding protection from UV rays, in an environmentally friendly process that involves relatively low cure temperatures.

Practicality Still Plays A Part Too

Using the old adage that we shouldn’t replace a problem with a different problem, it’s important to balance the perceived benefits of new technologies in coating with the functional and practical roles that they are required to fulfil. These include: protection from damage such as scratches, corrosion and UV rays, in addition to cosmetics and cleaning agents which regularly come into contact with car interiors.

For car interior specifications, salt spray testing requirements will often dictate the need for an e-coat primer to seal edges and prevent rusting prior to the application of a top coat finish. Clear or tinted lacquers can be applied to preserve the shiny, reflective finish of metal-based components and whilst anodising is considered particularly hard-wearing solution in these instances, it’s not appropriate for all applications as colour variations are more prevalent, making colour matching more difficult to control. Some components need to be perforated for acoustic or ventilation functions, in these cases wet paint-based coatings are best suited as the micron coverage and thickness (20-30 microns) can be more accurately controlled when compared with epoxy powders (60-70 microns).

Ash & Lacy Coatings

As part of our full-service offering, we have invested heavily in our own coating processes and equipment to ensure we can deliver the perfect balance of choice, quality and performance for all our automotive clients. Thanks to this ongoing capital investment, we will shortly be introducing a second wet paint spray booth to our automotive facility, delivering extra capacity and augmented finishing capabilities.
By working directly with Ash & Lacy, you have access to the full scope of our specialist coating knowledge, processes and equipment, including:

Wet Paint Coatings
- Soft Touch Paints
- Mono Coat Systems
- Chrome Finishes
- Clear and Tinted Lacquers
- High Gloss Finishes

Polyester and Epoxy Powder Coatings
- Over 1000 colours
- Matte Finishes
- Textured Effects
- Colour-changing Effects

Facilities & Processes
- Combined wet spray booth with curing oven and preparation area for maximum efficiency
- Total air handling capacity
- Fully modulating direct gas fired burner
- VSD inverter motor control
- Side extraction

If that’s not enough, our TPX100 print machine featuring an open-well system with a KT30 adjustable table, allowing logos and manufacturers details to easily be incorporated, further extending our in-house capabilities, meaning all key facets of production are controlled under one roof.

For more information on automotive coatings, or to arrange a technical consultation, please get in touch with our team of experts – sales@ashlacyautomotive.co.uk

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