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BMW pioneers a no-overspray painting method in its Dingolfing factory

The new process means that multicolor car paint jobs can be done without the need for remasking.

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BMW's new paint process lets the painting robots do multiple colors and designs without masking.
BMW

Painting a car is an inherently messy process. Think about it; you use compressed air to atomize paint that then lands on the vehicle. It only makes sense that not every particle of pigment will end up where it's supposed to, and the paint that doesn't is called overspray.

Overspray is wasteful, and since paint and its constituent components are kind of bad for the environment, that overspray is hurting mother nature, which is no bueno as well. It also wastes time with masking and additional prep. But BMW announced Friday that it thinks it's found a solution to the overspray problem, and no, friends, it isn't using brushes and rollers to paint the car. It's called Eco PaintJet Pro, and it's a new robotic painting system with effectively no overspray.

The way Eco PaintJet Pro works is best defined by the ways in which it's different from conventional painting. A regular factory paint application gun has a rotating bell that whizzes around at approximately 30-50,000 rpm. The paint comes out as an aerosol and then is electrostatically pulled to the surface. The new process ditches all that and uses an orifice plate that's much more precisely controlled. This means that you get crisp edges without the need for masking.

BMW predicts that this new paint process will open up customization for buyers to levels that haven't really been seen outside of the hyperluxury space -- think Rolls-Royce or Bentley -- because not having to mask means a considerable reduction in cost.

The process is being used first on 19 special edition M4 coupes that not only have two-tone paint jobs but also have painted graphics on the deck lid and hood -- all done without having to mask the car up for each color. These particular M4s won't be sold to the public, at least not initially, which is unfortunate. Instead, BMW plans to keep them in its fleet.

The Eco PaintJet Pro system is already in place in BMW's factory in Dingolfing, Germany, and the company expects to put it into service in 2022.

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