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This is how a car is painted: 84 robots and 5,000 litres of paint

22 January 2018

Each colour, since the time it is created until it is applied on a vehicle, goes on a journey that lasts three years. Watch a video of that journey here:

This is how a car is painted: 84 robots & 5,000 litres of paint (Credit: SEAT)

Three years of research and enough sensitivity to appreciate market trends: “Creating a colour is an inside job”, says Jordi Font from SEAT’s Color&Trim department. 

Its journey begins with a market study and ends when the paint is applied on the vehicle. In this process, personalisation strengthens its position as an obvious trend. Continue reading as SEAT goes over the more than 1,000 days it takes to create a new colour range:

1,000 litres of paint for a symphony of colours: A specialised team analyses market trends and proposes the range of colours of new models to be launched. “In addition to following trends, a lot of intuition also goes into defining a new shade. You have to feel the pulse on the street and run with it”, assures Font. A total of 1,000 litres of paint are required to create a new shade.

Science behind a Pantone colour guide: Mixtures are carried out in the lab that makes the work of creating a new colour strictly an exercise in chemistry. In the case of the colour palette for the SEAT Arona, “by mixing 50 different pigments and metal particles we’ve created nearly 100 variations of the same colour to see which shade is the most suitable”, says Carol Gómez from the Color&Trim department. “Colours get more sophisticated every day and the demand for customisation is a growing trend”, says Font. An example of this is the new SEAT Arona, which gives customers the opportunity of choosing from among more than 68 different colour combinations.

From mathematical formulations to real life: 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”, adds Jesús Guzmán from the Color&Trim department.

A surgery room where 84 robots “operate”: In the booths, cars are painted at a temperature of between 21 and 25°. Two and a half kilos of paint is applied on each car in an automated process performed by 84 robots that takes six hours per vehicle. 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. 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°.

An all-seeing CAT scan: Once painted, all it takes is 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.

Video courtesy of SEAT

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