Axalta Sells 60,000 Spectrophotometers

Axalta Coating Systems has announced the sale of its 60,000th spectrophotometer, with 10,000 sold globally in the past 15 months alone. The digital tools are used to accurately and quickly colour match, boosting the efficiency of body shops.

“Adopting a digital approach to colour matching and retrieval is a global trend that started 25 years ago when Axalta was one of the first coatings companies to offer a digital device and software to refinish customers,” said Dr Martin Wulf, Axalta’s Colour and Technical Manager for Refinish Systems in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “Today, we encourage all of our users to future-proof themselves and optimise their efficiency by moving to digital colour measurement.”

Axalta says that refinishers take the colour readings from a vehicle’s paintwork using the spectrophotometer, which then wirelessly sends the readings to Axalta’s online global colour database. The colour matching software searches over 200,000 constantly-updated formulas and where necessary, automatically adjusts the closest formula to provide refinishers with the closest match. It can then be selected on a smartphone or tablet and sent via Wi-Fi to an IP scale for mixing the colour formula.

“The future is now,” said Wulf. “The spectrophotometer is clearly a valuable part of modern refinish work. We expect to see continued and significant growth globally as body shops adopt a completely digital way of working. For customers who are looking at going digital, we will support and help them make a seamless transition to a fully digital colour management process.”

Swinburne UT, Tradiebot Trialling 3D Printing Material, AR Mobile App

Swinburne University of Technology has started testing its newly formulated, 3D printable, polypropylene-based material. Declaring it a world-first development, the university is collaborating with industry partner Tradiebot Industries, with co-investment from the Innovative Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC). The material will be used in the collision repair industry to 3D-print replacement plastic bumper bar tabs and headlight lugs.

According to a statement, the advanced plastic material is compatible with automotive-grade injection-moulded plastic, and will increase the number of parts being repaired and reused during the collision repair process, rather than those parts being sent to landfill or waste due to missing tabs and lugs. When ready for industry use, the solution will offer technicians a path to up-skill through learning to repair these parts and designing new replacement components for parts that would have previously required a brand-new replacement.

The material will be able to be 3D-printed using the WorxAR augmented reality (AR) mobile application under development by Tradiebot. WorxAR is expected to enable collision repair technicians to perform quality control on repairs by overlaying an original CAD diagram on the camera viewfinder display of a smartphone, tablet or smart glasses. The app will have the ability to scan broken plastic parts, generate a 3D model of the part and then enable the user to create, or select from a library, the required missing component. This missing component will then be 3D printed using the new automotive compatible material. The developed replacement parts will be stored in a digital library of pre-designed parts, ready for download and 3D printing.

The new material being tested in the form of a headlight base bracket.

“The new 3D printing material and the mobile app development marks a significant step towards the utilisation of new digital tools, additive manufacturing/3D printing and advanced materials in the collision repair industry,” said Mario Dimovski, Tradiebot CEO. “Tradiebot has been leading the way in 3D printing innovations in the collision repair industry for the past four years and is very excited to bring to market such an innovative solution.”

The polypropylene composite material, formulated in-house and developed by Swinburne materials scientist Dr Mostafa Nikzad and his team, will allow on-demand replacement tabs to be printed and fuse-welded by repair technicians on plastic car parts, enabling these broken parts to be reused, according to the statement. By keeping the plastic composites based on polypropylene, direct welding can be performed on bumpers or headlight bases, as most of these parts are made from the same material.

Dr Nikzad and his team were tasked with creating a material with the right bonding properties, strength and toughness required to meet automotive quality standards, while also possessing the necessary characteristics to be 3D printed. Compatibility with automotive grade injection moulded plastics was also required to be guaranteed.

“This is a ground-breaking development and I am is very proud of the work my team has achieved,” said Dr Nikzad. “It has been great working alongside an innovative project partner like Tradiebot. The initial idea to develop the material and how best to provide access to it for the industry is really exciting. I like the idea of using a mobile scanning app and creating your own replacement parts for printing. We are also now planning a second phase of this project that involves embedding self-healing capabilities into the material in a world-first.”

The statement added that IMCRC functions as a catalyst in the research collaboration, co-investing in 3D printing and material innovation that creates opportunities not just for Tradiebot and the collision repair industry, but for Australia’s broader manufacturing sector.

“I see the progress of the research collaboration as an indication of the things to come,” said David Chuter, CEO and Managing Director at IMCRC. “From day one, Tradiebot and Swinburne University have been working hand-in-hand, embracing opportunities as well as challenges to drive progress and get the job done. Seeing them test new 3D printing materials that did not exist two years ago and explore digital technology to enhance the user experience is very rewarding.”

Tradiebot said it aims to have the material and mobile application available to the market in early 2020, as the project moves into its final stage of commercialisation.

Post-Repair Calibration To Vehicle Manufacturer Tolerances Is Essential: Thatcham

Thatcham Research says it has provided much needed clarity to the automotive, automotive repair and insurance industries on how to manage vehicle repairs involving ADAS, such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control.

According to Thatcham, more than 10 per cent of vehicles on the road today are fitted with AEB, equating to some four million cars. However, there is a dearth of information on how to approach the repair of these safety critical systems.

“As ADAS continues its ever-increasing penetration into the car parc, the lack of a clear approach to the repair of ADAS-equipped vehicles is having an effect across the whole repair industry,” said Richard Billyeald, Chief Technical Officer at Thatcham Research. “For their own peace of mind, insurers and repairers need proof that they have taken all reasonable steps to reinstate the safety functions of a vehicle before returning it to the road.”

The Thatcham Research position on the safe repair of ADAS is as follows:

If ADAS sensors, or parts that are in proximity to ADAS sensors, are included in a repair specification, calibration post-repair must be completed to confirm sensors are functioning to the vehicle manufacturers’ specified tolerances. In addition, to enable identification and safe repairs involving ADAS, vehicle repairers should:

  • Assess for the presence of ADAS sensors and record the outcome clearly
  • Research and seek guidance from relevant repair methods and calibration instructions
  • Ensure all calibration activities are completed by currently competent technicians
  • Complete system calibration in accordance with the relevant repair method / instruction
  • Be able to demonstrate that the calibration of all affected sensors has been completed and that the results of the calibration confirms functionality within the vehicle manufacturer’s specified tolerance – unless stated otherwise in the repair specification
  • Where no specific repair guidance exists, and functionality cannot be proven through systemised calibration, then advice should be sought from the vehicle manufacturer’s dealership network and appropriate action taken prior to vehicle release
  • If vehicle manufacturer information states dynamic calibration, this should be completed and confirmed prior to vehicle release

“ADAS supports the driver to prevent a crash in the first place,” said Billyeald. “This represents a huge step forwards for vehicle safety and the transition into more advanced assisted and automated driving will continue to raise the safety bar. However, whilst that benefit may be fully realised on a new car, maintaining it once a car has been repaired is vital.

“The whole industry needs to work together to make sure ADAS repairs are safe and vehicles are returned to the road quickly and efficiently. Equipment suppliers must ensure that verifiable evidence of a successful calibration is provided. Repairers must invest in training to ensure competent persons are reinstating ADAS safely, and vehicle manufacturers must provide ADAS fitment data and consistent advice around which repair scenarios will result in successful ADAS calibration.”

“Insurers are major supporters of systems which improve vehicle safety and reduce the frequency and severity of crashes,” said Laurenz Gerger, policy advisor for motor insurance at the Association of British Insurers. “With a number of assistance systems set to become mandatory from 2021, it will be even more important to have clear guidance on managing vehicle repairs involving them. Ensuring these high-tech systems are working effectively after a repair is an important part of putting a vehicle back onto the roads and we are committed to helping establish the standards and processes to make sure this happens.”

In addition to the information issued, Thatcham Research said it has created a guide for repairers on ADAS system calibration requirements and identifying component locations and functions. The organisation said it is also working with the industry to develop a code of practice and has commenced a round of consultation with vehicle manufacturers, insurers, windscreen repair and replacement companies, equipment providers and repairers. The full code of practice will then be released later this year.

Spies Hecker and Standox Gain Reapproval by BMW for 2019

BMW Group has renewed its annual approval of Spies Hecker and Standox. The agreement, which is for BMW and MINI passenger car repair, covers the BMW Group service network in 51 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

Jürgen Knorr, Director, Key Accounts Director for Axalta’s Refinish Systems in Europe, Middle East and Africa, says “Spies Hecker and Standox have been recommended by BMW Group for 22 years now and we are delighted to be continuing our very successful partnership.”

The agreement recommends BMW Group’s dealerships and service garages use Spies Hecker and Standox refinish paint technologies and the renewal is based on thorough performance testing. It also includes wide-ranging support and focused training from both Spies Hecker and Standox.

“Thanks to Axalta’s constant product and technology development, the refinish technologies offered by Spies Hecker and Standox are not only heavily focused on sustainability by helping to reduce energy consumption and waste and the use of less material, but also ensure the paintwork repairs on BMW cars perform to the specified quality levels. And innovations like Axalta’s Digital Colour Management help BMW Group’s dealerships and service garages to be more efficient and more profitable. By supplying our customers with innovative and cutting-edge technologies, we hope to gain reapproval for many more years to come,” says Knorr.

Tradiebot Launches WorxAR Software Package

Tradiebot Industries officially launched its augmented reality (AR) software application WorxAR at the Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo in Melbourne. The company said WorxAR will allow latest release information to be delivered to users at the touch of their fingertips via smart devices such as phones and tablets like never before.

According to a video sample Tradiebot posted on YouTube, WorxAR should allow workers to view a vehicle through a viewscreen, with an information overlay appearing on the screen to provide the user with information on parts in that vehicle. The software also enables workers to dismantle and repair a vehicle while following real-time instructions delivered to the screen by the software.

Tradiebot says AR is currently making a big impact with industrial applications, allowing technicians to perform service and repairs by accessing the latest digital repair processes and service manuals. The technology is also being used for training.

“The response by people attending the expo and witnessing the technology first hand was one of excitement and amazement that such a digital tool was now available,” said Mario Dimovski, founder of Tradiebot. “Having such technology on offer will be a game changer. Context relevant information can now be delivered in an on-the-job interactive way that is so intuitive and effortless for end users to assist in repairs, service, maintenance and training. This digital tool is also the perfect catalyst to help attract a new breed of apprentices to the trade that might be looking for a more tech-focused career combined with hands-on skills.”

“This is the next evolution in how information is offered and a real boost to our industry that is struggling to maintain an upskilled workforce,” said Kevin Woolerton, Director of Marketing at PPG who attended the expo and experienced WorxAR firsthand. “This technology will allow the upskilling of future technicians whilst also providing knowledge to technicians in digital format.”

Tradiebot says it has started fielding expressions of interest from a broad range of potential automotive customers from across the world that could utilise the software technology for their own products and services. The company says the profile of users is “extremely broad”, covering OEM, training providers, machinery manufacturers and equipment manufacturers from around the world, who could convert their current paper-based manuals and processes into a digital interactive platform.

The WorxAR video sample can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fBPSjctbpk

Axalta’s “Sahara” Is 2019 Automotive Colour Of The Year

For the first time in its five-year history, Axalta’s Automotive Colour of the Year is showcasing a colour primed for vehicle customisation both at manufacturing facilities and in the aftermarket. The company says Sahara, a golden-bronze tone, radiates warmth, richness and strength for vehicles of all sizes – especially the expanding global truck and SUV markets – and can serve as the principal colour for two-tone possibilities including black roofs.

“At Axalta, we are seeing car designers leaning toward options for two-toning, accent roofs and stripes,” said Nancy Lockhart, Axalta Global Colour Marketing Manager. “When it comes to mass customisation, Sahara is the type of colour that can serve as the foundation for these premium options.”

Borne from Axalta’s ChromaDyne line of colour coats formulated for global automotive manufacturers, Sahara is partly inspired by global trends for warmer shades highlighted in the company’s Global Automotive Colour Popularity Report. Yellow/gold vehicles are most popular in India and China, while the number of brown/beige vehicles increased in North America more than any other region.

Sahara is Axalta’s fifth Colour of the Year following Radiant Red (2015), Brilliant Blue (2016), Gallant Gray (2017) and StarLite (2018). StarLite, a pearlescent white, introduced coatings technology into the autonomous vehicle discussion. Axalta says its colours under development are tested for readability by autonomous sensors, and Sahara is formulated for visibility.

According to Dan Benton, Axalta Refinish Colour Marketing Manager, Axalta’s Colour of the Year is another example of how Axalta transfers OEM technology to the aftermarket and repair businesses.

“We get calls every year from some of the industry’s best custom builders looking to use colour to differentiate their products,” he said. “We have Sahara formulated and ready-to-go in our industry-leading refinish brands including Cromax, Standox and Spies Hecker.”

Axalta’s Three Premium Global Refinish Brands Approved By Porsche

Porsche has added Cromax to its list of approved car paint repair brands, making all three of Axalta’s premium global refinish brands – Cromax, Spies Hecker and Standox – authorised for use by Porsche dealerships and body shops worldwide. Axalta has held technical approval with Porsche for more than 20 years with Spies Hecker and Standox.

The rolling approval ensures that Porsche cars are repaired with the highest quality products using the most modern technologies.

“We are delighted to be continuing our successful partnership with Porsche AG with the inclusion of Cromax in the Porsche AG Paint Manual,” said Jürgen Knorr, Director Key Accounts for Axalta’s Refinish Systems in Europe, Middle East and Africa. “The highly productive and value-added paint systems offered by Cromax are a perfect fit for Porsche approved body shops and dealerships to enable repairs that maintain the value of a vehicle and to ensure strict warranty requirements are met.”

BASF Introduces Digital Platform For Visualising Automotive Exterior Colours

BASF’s Coatings division has introduced a digital platform it calls AUROOM, which enables OEM designers to access a database of photo-realistic virtual car colours.

BASF’s virtual colours capture all facets of automotive coatings including lightness flop, colour flop and sparkling. By mapping these colours on car models, OEM designers can virtually paint every colour proposal and gain realistic impressions of colours and effects on a complete car already in an early design phase.

BASF says AUROOM will be a valuable tool for OEM designers to speed up and perfect the overall colour design process as they are no longer solely dependent on physical samples that need to be painted and shipped. AUROOM provides further innovative features like real-time side by side comparison of different colour shades of the same colour group to make the right colour decision easier.

“Automotive coatings are highly complex colours with texture, colour position and surface defining the overall impression,” said Mark Gutjahr, head of Automotive Colour Design EMEA at BASF’s Coatings division.

“To easily understand the impact of these colour parameters on a 3D shape, the digitised colours enable the user to see this on their individual models.”

Working together with almost every car manufacturer on the market, BASF says it currently produces over 600 colours in Europe, with new colours constantly being designed. This large portfolio will now be scanned by cameras. The huge amount of appearance data generated during the scan is processed using a sophisticated mathematic model, while BASF’s colourimetric know-how contributes to ensure its authenticity. OEMs can then access the comprehensive colour data at the AUROOM platform and render it on different 3D shapes provided by the platform or CAD shapes of their own models.

“Digitalisation is an important topic, especially in the automotive industry,” said Krzysztof Patryk Stolarzewicz, head of Global Strategic Marketing at BASF’s Coatings division.

“We have a lot of experience creating colours in our labs and now we are able to digitise them and create photo-realistic digital reproductions. For our customers, it means the colour decision process will become easier, faster and much more effective. They can also use the data for their own brand-specific car configurators so that car buyers can experience automotive colours in their entire variety which supports their buying decision.”

In the start-up phase, BASF says its virtual colour solution will first be introduced to OEMs in EMEA. In addition to the digital platform, the customers will have the chance to experience the technology at AUROOM’s “analogue twin” – a specially designed showroom at the Colour Design Studio Europe in Münster, Germany.

To demonstrate the colours and effects in the most authentic way possible, BASF also developed special virtual 3-D car shapes. Like BASF’s iconic dome shape, the virtual shapes simulate various forms of a car body. In order to assess compatibility of colour with the overall design concept, OEM designers can choose shapes of different vehicle segments in AUROOM for colour visualisation.

Leading Recycler Groups Endorse NSF Automotive Recycler Certification

Two leading automotive US trade groups, the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) and the United Recyclers Group (URG), have endorsed NSF International’s automotive recycler certification programme.

The independent, third-party certification verifies a recycler’s ability to meet criteria for grading, labelling and traceability, in addition to vehicle acquisition, dismantling, inventory, training, customer service and auditing requirements.

NSF International worked with leading automotive recyclers and industry experts to facilitate the development of requirements for the automotive recycler certification programme.

“With NSF International certification, recyclers can differentiate themselves in terms of meeting cycle time and ensuring accuracy when it comes to inventory, grading and part labelling,” said ARA President, David Gold. “ARA supports initiatives that require ongoing audits and underscore continual improvement.”

NSF says certified automotive recyclers undergo annual on-site audits to ensure compliance with all certification requirements. Recyclers meeting all certification requirements can use the NSF Certified Automotive Recycler mark on their website and promotional materials. The recyclers are also included in NSF International’s  online certification listings.

According to Donald Porter, URG’s Chief Executive Officer, “URG supports standards that help the automotive recycling industry enhance its operations from a safety, environmental and traceability perspective. NSF International certification provides recyclers a means to demonstrate this commitment. Participation in a certification process can ensure continual process improvement, increase operational efficiency and improve the recycler’s bottom line.”

To date, PAM’s Auto in the United States, and ASV Euro Car Parts, Grant Walker Parts and Paradise Auto Parts in Australia have earned NSF International’s automotive recycler certification.

Car-O-Liner Introduces CTR9 Auto Spot Welder

Car-O-Liner has released its new CTR9, a fully automatic welder that comes with a new, “revolutionised” light-weight transformer gun.

With its 355-degree swivel handle and ergo-grip, Car-O-Liner says it enables perfect working positions for anyone, for any job. The gun is supported by a telescopic arm made with durable and lightweight extruded aluminium that can be easily adjusted both vertically and horizontally. A compact power unit with a low centre of gravity gives mobility and stability, and a 16,000-amp transformer and CANBUS communication ensure a perfect weld every time, according to the company.

Other features include the automatic establishment of required settings to ensure the proper weld nugget, along with an advanced quality control system that monitors and adjusts the welder to guarantee the total energy input.

The CTR9 is easily upgradable via its USB port, while its storage tray allows all tools and accessories to be kept close at hand. The WeldLogger functionality also enables the ability to create work orders and document them in log files that can be printed if required.

The CTR9 is now available from your local Car-O-Liner distributor.