What would you etch on your R8's side blade?
Matte- and satin-finish trim remains a hot trend in auto styling, and Audi now has a new way to offer buyers this stylish look. The patented technique etches symbols into the vehicle for an effect that initially looks like a decal but is actually part of the paint.
The etching process starts by putting a template over the desired area and then blasting a special powder onto the car. This clears away few thousandths of a millimeter from the transparent topcoat of lacquer. “Light hitting the surface is then reflected diffusely by the individualized surface areas. This makes it appear matt,” project manager Dr. Erhard Brandl said in the new option’s announcement. Since the pattern is in the paint, there’s no worry about the image falling off over time like a decal.
Audi’s current etching process can work in an area as large as 10.8 square feet (one square meter). However, Audi Exclusive clients can only order the customization for the side blades of the R8 Coupe and Spyder for now. The company demonstrates the option by putting the Audi Sport logo on the side of the supercar. Customers can specifiy any individual lettering and graphics that they’d like as long as the pattern "does not affect any third-party rights."
Other Audi buyers will be able to order the etching eventually, though. According to the company, the process is easy to incorporate into a vehicle’s production because the customization happens after painting the vehicle. The firm even suggests that it could offer the look into regular series production at some point.
If Audi keeps developing this tech, it could look amazing in larger applications. Imagine etching stripes over the hood. The company could also create art cars by letting artists come up with unique patterns for the body.