PAINT BY ROBOTS

THE NEVER-ENDING JOURNEY TOWARD FASTER OPERATIONS

The industry has seen some forays into automatic car painting processes in recent years, with automotive giants even trying their hand at the technology. In autumn 2021, BMW released a video of its car-painting robot. In the clip, an autonomous arm covers the vehicle with no overspray whatsoever, according to the automaker. The process is used at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Germany, and the OEM says it’s so precise that designs can be applied without stencils or masking. It says the tech enables “virtually limitless options for individualization,” and can reduce the factory’s carbon footprint by 2,000 tonnes. PPG unveiled its automatic paint mixing system ‘Moonwalk’ in Europe in June 2019 and has since installed more than 1,000 units in bodyshops in the Middle East, Europe and Africa regions.

The tool, designed to fill all mixing rooms, features 80 storage spaces for tinters and 13 positions in the dispensing rack says PPG. The user simply loads the required tinter, additive and thinner bottles to the dispensing rack, where the system will scan a barcode to dispense the correct amount of product. It also prints a label for the final product. 3M also released its own Finesse-it Robotic Paint Repair System last fall, which is said to automate the paint defect repair process. The company says the system enables robots to efficiently and reliably sand and buff out paint defects like dirt, fibres, pops and scratches. The tech beat out 20+ other presentations on recent automotive innovations to claim a SURCAR award. 3M says the system took years to develop and is comprised of “tools, abrasives and process expertise designed to work together with a range of robots,” though does acknowledge that some defects will need to be repaired by an operator.

While the quality of such systems may be argued by industry professionals, there are even knock-off robotic car painters sold through online marketplaces like Alibaba— though under no circumstances does Collision Repair suggest you take advantage of this untested tech.

While we may not be able to offer you the top-notch tech discussed on this page the Collision Repair Buyer’s Guide has pages of reliable paint hardware for you to peruse; from paint booths and spray guns to UV lamps and mixing cups. Maybe next year we’ll have robots.

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