The 3-Wet technology process, already in operation at eight of Ford’s plants in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe, have reduced emissions by up to 25% and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by 10% at those sites.

Similar reductions are expected at four more of the company’s sites which will become 3-Wet facilities – two in the United States, one in China and one in Spain.

Ford, which was the first automaker to implement the high-solids solvent-borne technology in 2007, says this move will effectively expand its eco-friendly paint capacity by 50% in global terms during the course of this year.

The technology refers to a paint formulated to minimise solvents, resulting in a concentrated pigment and resin mixture with fewer VOCs released.

According to Ford’s director of manufacturing engineering Bruce Hettle, the process means quality standards such as durability and chip and scratch resistance can be maintained while delivering a greener finish.

“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,” he said.

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.

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.

Maxine Perella

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