The first fleet of Ford vehicles painted with environmentally responsible new technology, which reduces greenhouse gases by 15 percent and cuts production cost hit the road in August. Some 200 Ford E-Series trucks painted with this new technology in the Avon Lake assembly plant in Ohio were delivered to U-Haul facilities around the USA. U-Haul immediately began renting the units, tagged with eco-friendly decals, to customers. Ford’s initiative comes in the face of more stringent government regulations requiring North American automotive manufacturers to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These compounds are often found in solvents in primers and base and clear coats. The new technology combines an advanced chemical formulation of high-solids, solvent-borne paint with an innovative three-wet application process that requires a smaller, less expensive and cleaner paint shop than traditional paint facilities. Joe Hinrichs, vice president, North America Manufacturing, Ford Motor Company, said Ford will monitor the U-Haul fleet over the next year to gather important durability data that will help the company develop long-term rollout plans for its industry-first technology. “This marks a big win for our customers, the environment and the business,” Hinrichs said at the annual Center for Automotive Research Management Conference. “We have high hopes for this technology based on our laboratory testing. Once we understand how it performs in the real world, we’ll determine how best to apply it to other manufacturing facilities.” In addition to reduced CO2 emissions, the new technology reduces VOC emissions (volatile organic compounds) by about 10 percent. The company estimates it can save approximately $7 per vehicle by cutting the time it takes to paint a vehicle by almost 20 percent as well as reducing the size of the traditional paint shop by nearly 15 percent. “Painting vehicles has traditionally been one of the auto industry’s biggest environmental challenges,” said Mary Ellen Rosenberger, paint manager of Ohio Assembly Plant where the new technology was launched. “Ford has found the solution. It’s environmentally sound. It’s cost-efficient. And it produces beautifully painted vehicles with long-term durability.” Ford’s new high-solids, solvent-borne paint formulation produces fewer VOC and CO2 emissions than do water-borne and current solvent-borne paints. Because the new formulation contains more color pigment, it requires less paint to cover a vehicle than water-based paint. Furthermore, the new technology allows for three coats of wet paint to be applied to the vehicle one on top of the other, without drying between coats. This eliminates the prime-coat application and its related processes, which means a smaller, more efficient paint shop. Furthermore, there’s no need for an air-conditioning process or an additional low-temperature oven, which are required in water-borne paint shops to evaporate the water from the paint. The paint formulation contains new polymers and other additives that prevent running and sagging during the three-wet application process. And Ford’s laboratory tests show the high-solids, solvent-borne paint provides better long-term resistance to chips and scratches than does water-borne paint. Said Dean Cerimeli, U-Haul’s director of Truck and Trailer Product: “When it comes to the environment and sustainability, we are happy to partner with Ford in this important field test. We believe this is the most environmentally responsible way to paint vehicles. And we applaud Ford for leading the industry.” In June, Ford won the “Best Technical Prize” for its new paint technology at SURCAR: The International Conference on Automobile Body Finishing in Cannes, France.
Ford USA implements a greener painting process
Wednesday, 10 September 2008