When you look at any car, one of the the first thing you’ll notice is its color. Many will admire the glossiness or extreme depth of the paint, but most never think about the environmental impact of the painting process. Mazda developed a new painting process that not only enhances the quality of the paint but also reduces its impact on the environment.
“Aqua-Tech reduces the amount of energy we use to paint cars, first and foremost,” said Teresa Spafford, design manager for Colors, Materials and Finishes, and Advanced Design Planning at Mazda North American Operations. “It also reduces the particulate waste material and overall waste that we generate in the process.”
The Aqua-Tech system is water-based, and reduces the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 78 percent over competing methods such as conventional oil paint systems. Mazda then reduced its paint-booth CO2 emissions by 34 percent as well, without using any extra energy. Aqua-Tech has been recognized for its environmental benefits, and Mazda received an innovation award from the Prime Minister of Japan for developing the new system.
“There was a lot of technological development from an environmental standpoint,” Spafford explained, “and also to develop the ability to mass-produce it took a huge collaboration between design and engineering and manufacturing.”
Aqua-Tech’s three-layer wet paint system allows for extremely accurate paint control and uniform coating thickness. By combining extremely accurate paint control technology with a highly efficient robotic painting system, Mazda has achieved two major advancements: uniform coating thickness and a more efficient painting process.
“As an automaker, we have an obligation to not only make high-quality cars, but also reduce our impact on the environment,” said Kiyotaka Shobuda, a senior managing executive officer at Mazda Corporation. “Our painting technologies, which have helped Kodo Design gain recognition worldwide, represent Mazda’s efforts to meet that obligation. Moving forward, we’ll continue to develop innovative technologies at our parent factories in Japan before introducing them at the same high standards overseas. In this way, we’ll provide customers around the world with high-quality cars and contribute both to preserving the environment and enriching society.”