PPG is huge with hues in the auto industry

February 15, 2012 10:49 am
  • Models are painted and assembled at BMW's manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, S.C.
    Models are painted and assembled at BMW's manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, S.C.
  • Cindy Niekamp, PPG's senior vice president, automotive coatings, addresses the media at the Detroit Auto Show last month.
    Cindy Niekamp, PPG's senior vice president, automotive coatings, addresses the media at the Detroit Auto Show last month.
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At a news conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month, PPG executives talked about recent innovations. The research-and-development team developed a low-bake paint so cars do not have to be heated to as high a temperature for the paint to adhere. That saves on energy costs.

That new coating can be applied in the company's Compact Paint System, which eliminates the need for a primer coat, thus eliminating the need for a primer booth and reducing the amount of space needed for auto manufacturers to paint cars.

Cynthia Neikamp, the company's senior vice president of automotive coatings, said there have been so many changes that now 40 percent of the division's sales come from products developed over the past four years.

The company does not break out the paint sales to automakers, but that division is part of PPG's Industrial Coatings segment that had $4.1 billion in sales last year.

PPG's electrocoat, invented in 1964, allows recessed areas of cars to be protected and, once it took off with manufacturers, has pretty much eliminated the sort of rust that took out fenders and doors in the 1960s and 1970s. The product was further refined with Enviro-Prime 7000, which gets into areas that are hard to reach and the interior surfaces of vehicles without leaving a lot of excess paint on a vehicle.

PPG's work with the auto industry isn't limited to the exterior paint.

While paint isn't a big weight factor at just 12 pounds per vehicle, Tom Kerr, vice president of the company's fiberglass division, said, his team is working with automakers to drop the pounds.

"We've got to find a way to lighten these vehicles. That's the best way to increase gas mileage," Mr. Kerr said. By incorporating fiberglass in place of steel, the weight of a car is reduced.

Ms. Neikamp said PPG also is working with tire manufacturers to lessen the rolling resistance, which will increase gas mileage.

Meanwhile, Richard Zoulek, the company's general manager of industrial coatings, said PPG coatings are on aluminium wheels, windshield wipers and some components of the engine.

And then there is the question of a quieter ride. PPG has been working to achieve that with an acoustic coating called Audioguard that dampens the noise and acts as a sound barrier.

Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.
First Published 2012-02-14 23:25:06

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