Green Operations

Ford's Paint Technology Goes Global

August 12, 2009

DEARBORN, MI --- Global paint shops in India, Romania, Mexico and China are in the process of rolling out a Ford paint technology that will not only save the shops time and money, but will lessen their environmental footprint, Ford said. 

Ford continues implementing the new technology in the U.S., readying its launch of the process at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. 

"Our 3-Wet paint technology is cost-efficient. It's environmentally sound. And it produces durable, high-quality painted vehicles," said Bruce Hettle, executive director of global manufacturing engineering. 

The 3-Wet paint technology has allowed Ford to restructure its paint shops on a global scale. Leading the way is the high-solids, solvent-borne paint formulation developed by Ford and its suppliers that produces fewer emissions than current waterborne and solvent-borne paints, yet allows Ford to maintain long-term paint durability. 

An automated application process eliminates the prep stage in a paint shop, allowing the three layers of paint -- primer, base and enamel -- to be applied one after another without manual intervention and while each layer is still wet. Ford said the result offers a savings in time -- specifically, about a 20 to 25 percent reduction in process time -- along with sustainability. Along with its suppliers, Ford pioneered the development of the high-solids coating material, which meets all of the company's quality paint metrics in chip resistance, scratch resistance, etch resistance, durability and appearance. 

Because of the differences in technique -- including robotic processing, elimination of equipment and associated pollutants, and increased line speed -- there are 6,000 metric tons fewer CO2 emissions per year compared to waterborne systems and 8,000 metric tons fewer CO2 emissions per year compared to conventional high-solvent-borne systems. There also is a volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions savings of 5 percent related to processing. 

Ford said it will build on its North American success, launching the process at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., now being retooled for small car production. 

Additionally, the more environmentally friendly paint process will be launched in Ford paint facilities in manufacturing sites in India; Craiova, Romania; Cuautitlan, Mexico; and China.

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