How are cars painted?

A vehicle’s colours and coatings are more than just decorative – they also provide protection

Whether your car is bright orange or plain white, the perfect paint job is not just about the colour – it’s also there to preserve and protect your vehicle from the elements.

After the bare metal shell of a car is formed, the first step in the painting process is to clean it and apply a corrosion-resistant layer using a series of dip tanks. This must be done thoroughly, as even the smallest smudge from a human hand could affect the finish.

The base and top coats of paint are applied using electrostatic spray guns, which ensure the paint is applied evenly. Finally, a clear lacquer coating is applied to protect the car against the elements, including UV radiation and dirt.

At several stages between coats the car is heat-cured in a specially designed oven to strengthen the coatings (providing scratch and chip resistance) and to remove any unwanted moisture. When complete, these carefully applied layers will ensure that your car’s bodywork will survive for many years to come, whatever the weather.

Electrostatic spraying

This precise painting process has revolutionised the way we paint cars to give full coverage of even the hardest-to-reach areas. 

Electrostatically charged: Paint particles are positively charged by the spray gun, causing them to disperse widely as like charges repel each other.

Attraction: The paint particles are attracted towards the car’s negatively-charged surface, resulting in an even coat.

Reduced paint waste: Any paint that doesn’t directly reach the target will change direction to stick to the car, as the positively charged particles are drawn to the negatively charged surface.

This article was originally published in How It Works issue 110, written by Charlie Evans 

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