A painting process developed for the Mercedes A-Class passenger car is not only environmentally friendly but also quick and cost-efficient. The process, which is the result of a collaboration between Mercedes-Benz, BASF Lacke + Farben, and Durr Systems, involves new materials as well as optimized production systems. Like other state-of-the-art automotive paint systems, four coats are involved. The composition of the first coat on the Mercedes A-Class, however, is completely lead-free, and the second coat is less than half the thickness of conventional paint processes (15 micron instead of 40 micron). This, says Konrad Ortlieb, Durr R&D manager, "results from a special formulation of primer and by maintaining extreme control of the spray equipment to ensure an even application of paint." The third color coat is conventional but the fourth represents a world "first," according to Ortlieb. Composed of a powder slurry, this fourth clear coat is solvent-free. "Other companies have developed water-based clear coats, but there is always a small residue of solvent. Our slurry solution has none," he claims. An added advantage of the BASF/Durr process is that the three paint coats are applied wet-on-wet, eliminating the need for an inter-coat baking stage, thereby saving time. For more information call: Dr. Konrad Ortlieb at +49-711-136-1631.