Each color takes three years from creation to find its way on to a vehicle. That’s three years of research and the difficult job of predicting market trends and future tastes.
Checking the pulse
"Creating a color is an inside job," says Jordi Font from SEAT’s color and trim department. "In addition to following trends, a lot of intuition also goes into defining a new shade. You have to feel the pulse on the street and run with it."
Preparation and testing
A total of 1,000 liters of paint are required to create a new shade – getting exactly the right shade, testing the paint on lots of different surfaces and in different circumstances. A car’s paint has the primary job of standing up to everything that nature and a driver can throw at it.
"Colors get more sophisticated every day and the demand for customization is a growing trend," says Jordi Font. An example of this is the new SEAT Arona small SUV, which gives customers the opportunity of choosing from among more than 68 different color combinations.
Mixtures are carried out in the lab that makes the work of creating a new color strictly an exercise in chemistry. Every shade you can imagine is available to the scientists in the SЕАТ laboratory.
Lots of options
In the case of the color palette for the SЕАТ Arona, "by mixing 50 different pigments and metal particles we’ve created nearly 100 variations of the same color to see which shade is the most suitable," says Carol Gómez from the color and trim department.
Once defined, every color has been tested on metal plate samples to verify its application and ensure that it produces the intended visual effect. After these exhaustive procedures, only then can it be loaded on to the factory production line.
Lick of paint
In the paint booths, cars are painted at a temperature of between 70 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit (21-25 degrees Celsius). Two and a half kilos of paint is applied on each car in an automated process performed by 84 robots that takes six hours per vehicle.
The paint booths feature a ventilation system that is similar to the ones found in a hospital surgery theater to prevent dust and other outside impurities from settling on the freshly painted cars.
"We check the depth and subtlety of the shade on plates that are exposed to sunlight and in the shade to make sure that the applied color matches the one we designed," says Jesús Guzmán
Each car gets seven coats in all, each as thin as a hair width but as hard as a rock, which are baked in an oven at 285 degrees F (140 degrees C).
Once painted, all it takes is 43 seconds to verify there are no deficiencies in the paint application. The vehicles pass through a CAT scanner that checks for smooth surfaces and ensures there are no impurities.
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