April 4, 2013

Ford Expands Environmentally Friendly 3-Wet Paint

Ford is expanding its industry-leading 3-Wet paint capacity by 50 percent this year, adding the environmentally friendly process to four more plants on three continents. The actions will reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 15-25 percent at those facilities.

Ford was the first automaker to implement the 3-Wet high-solids solvent-borne technology in 2007; it now has eight plants in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe equipped to use the process to paint vehicles. High-solids solvent-borne technology refers to a paint formulated to minimize solvents, resulting in a concentrated pigment and resin mixture with fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released. The technology will be in place in 12 plants in 2013 then expand to additional facilities worldwide over the next four years.

"The 3-Wet paint process is significantly more advanced than conventional technologies in applying durable paints in a high-quality, environmentally sound and cost-efficient manner," said Bruce Hettle, director of manufacturing engineering.

The 3-Wet process derives its name from three layers of paint applied one after the other prior to earlier coats having cured. The process eliminates stand-alone primer application and a dedicated oven required in the conventional process that was used before. Advanced chemical composition of 3-Wet paint materials allows for the three layers of paint – primer, base coat and clear coat – to be applied while each layer is still wet.

The 3-Wet technology process means Ford can maintain the top quality characteristics its customers demand, including long-term durability and chip and scratch resistance.

How it works
Enabling the 3-Wet high-solids solvent-borne paint formulation technology is a combination of process and product developed by Ford and its suppliers. Together, they have created a superior system that saves 20-25 percent of process time. Due to the eliminated stand-alone primer application and dedicated oven – both reducing the paint booth size – Ford saves electricity from the blowers that circulate massive volumes of air through paint booths, and reduces its use of natural gas needed to heat the air and ovens. This results in significant reductions of CO2 emissions, as well as reductions in VOC compared to current medium-solids and solvent-borne paints.

Since the pilot launch at Ohio Assembly Plant five years ago, Ford’s global 3-Wet paint process has reduced CO2 emissions by 15-25 percent and VOC emissions by 10 percent compared to either conventional high-solids solvent-borne or waterborne systems.

Locations where Ford is installing the 3-Wet process in 2013:
- Flat Rock Assembly Plant, Flat Rock, Mich.
- Kansas City Assembly Plant, Claycomo, Mo.
- Jiangling Motors Co. Ltd., Jiangxi/Nanchang, China
- Valencia Assembly Plant, Valencia, Spain

Locations with 3-Wet capability in North America:
- Ohio Assembly Plant, Avon Lake, Ohio
- Cuautitlán Assembly Plant, Cuautitlán, Mexico
- Michigan Assembly Plant, Wayne, Mich.
- Louisville Assembly Plant, Louisville, Ky.

Locations with 3-Wet capability in Asia Pacific:
- Chennai Assembly, Tamil Nadu, India
- CAF 2, Chongqing, China
- Ford Thailand Manufacturing, Rayong, Thailand

Location with 3-Wet capability in Europe:
- Craiova Assembly Plant, Craiova, Romania

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