Audi has come up with technology that will make it relatively easier to customize cars. Using this technology, it is now possible to etch names or logos etched onto the body panels of a car. The technology involves a process for the partial matting of painted surfaces. A special powder is used to roughen the clear lacquer on the painted surface of a car to a depth of a few thousandths of a millimeter so that individual markings become visible. Audi is offering this option as part of the Audi exclusive program, a program which offers personalized design of the side blades for all R8 customers.
Based on an official statement that Audi issued, the new process that was developed by Audi’s experts allows desired symbols like letters and designs to be applied to components after they are painted, and the process can easily be made a part of the normal series production.
Prof. Dr. Hubert Waltl, Member of the Board of Management for Production at AUDI AG said that the technique of partial matting is an excellent example of the flexibility of Audi’s production. He termed the process a breakthrough in terms of implementing individualization in normal series production in Audi’s smart factory.
Generally, painting a vehicle involves application of at least three further coats after the cathodic dip coating to protect against corrosion – the filler, base coat and the transparent lacquer as the top protective coat. As part of the new technique, a template of the desired pattern is first placed on the component followed by the use of a blasting system to spray a special powder onto the surface. This roughens the clear lacquer to a depth of just a few thousandths of a millimeter, which is less than a tenth of the thickness of a human hair. This creates the effect of a matt and homogeneous pattern.
Using this process, Audi engineers can make modifications to the finish of the paintwork. The individualized surface areas reflect light hitting the surface diffusely, giving them a matt finish. When compared to conventional lettering, this kind of etching is weather resistant, and give the letters or logo a more high-quality appearance.
The Audi paint shop can use almost any pattern that a customer might desire and which does not infringe on anyone’s copyright. Currently, components measuring upto a meter by a meter can be processed in this way. The super sports car Audi R8 is the first model for which this technology is offered through the Audi exclusive program. Customers of the R8 customers can choose to have their individual lettering and graphics applied to the side blades of the Coupe and the open Spyder version. Audi is planning to extend the offer to other models in the future.
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