The automotive industry is one that continues to be in high demand. With automotive refinishing accounting for $2 billion in revenue in 2014 alone, it is not secret why the refinishing is the largest sub-segment of coatings. Not too far behind, industrial maintenance coatings come in second. Thanks to the rapidly growing field of terahertz (THz) technology, automotive paint jobs have just gotten a well-needed boost.
Recently, a team of German researchers began a new approach to industrial coatings for cars. Starting with low friction coatings, researchers looked into the principle in which the thickness of multi-layered coatings could be measured.Science Daily reports that this was done using time-of-flight measurements of ultrashort THz pulses. The results of their findings helped them to develop a new level of precision that can be used for coating equipment to make the painting process more efficient.
“By introducing an advanced regression procedure with a self-calibration model, our approach presents a framework that takes into consideration real industrial challenges such as the effect of wet-on-wet spray in the painting process. This is important because the multi-layer car coating process is complex, and a new approach is needed to improve vehicle paint quality control,” explained René Beigang, the study’s lead researcher.
Research shows that THz energy is both non-destructive and non-invasive, which means it has many industrial properties that are of interest to many industries. It has the ability to break through a number of non-conducting materials while still passing through common materials like plastic, wood, or clothing. Now that researchers have found ways in which THz technology can be used in low friction coatings and other diverse settings, interest is high.
While it may seem complicated, their research can be summed up a little more simply. In current processes, there is a time delay between consistent reflected THz pulses and the thickness of the layers of wear-resistant coatings. Using the new THz technology, the scanning process for each layer can now be greatly reduced, allowing for less time in painting a vehicle.
Knowing that 352 million gallons of wear coatings were sold in just 2014, it is safe to say that the market for low friction coatings is thriving. Once this new approach is implemented into the automotive industry, we are sure to see more growth and innovations in how cars are manufactured.