Words like “scratch”, “chip” and “rust” are enough to make any driver’s heart sink when talking about their car’s paintwork. However, Ford drivers can now put their hearts at ease thanks to the innovative 3-wet paint technology, which is employed on most Ford vehicles in Asia Pacific.
“Ford’s 3-wet paint technology uses high-solid paint chemistry, which ends up resulting in a tougher and stronger finish for your car,” said Richard Burt, chief engineer for paint at Ford Asia Pacific.
The first step in Ford’s paint system is the pretreatment, where the sheet-metal vehicle body is dipped in a series of baths with a protective phosphate layer that clean, etch and protect it. The body is then taken through an electro-deposition process in which it’s dipped into a paint bath with an electric current, which helps the paint bond to the metal and the phosphate layer.
Dipping the metal bodies into these baths allows the coating to cover the entire surface of the body, both inside and out. The vehicles are even applied with a layer of polyvinyl chloride, as an anti-chipping coating.
Next, the 3-wet painting process begins. The vehicle body is rolled through three different paint applications: primer, colour coat and clear top coat. The primer protects the lower coatings from exposure to elements such as sunlight, and helps with the paint’s resistance to scratches and chips. Meanwhile, the colour coat and clear top coat give the vehicle its vivid colour, sheen and an additional layer of protection.
To ensure all parts of the paint system meet its standards, Ford has a variety of tests that check everything from a paint’s chip- and scratch-resistance to how well it can maintain its gloss and colour over time.
One of the tests is the Mar Resistance Test, which measures how well the top clear coat can retain its glossiness. In this test, Ford engineers sand down the surface of a colour panel to see how much of its gloss remains. On average, colour panels that underwent the high solid 3-wet process retained approximately 96% of their glossiness, whereas panels with medium-solid paint only retained an average of approximately 62%. In other words, Ford’s high-solid 3-wet paint technology increases a paint’s gloss-retention properties by 56%.
“We do extensive testing where we take a paint system – e-coat, primer, colour coat and clear top coat – and test each part of the system at different temperatures, thicknesses, bake and flash times in order to optimise the process to achieve the best performance possible,” added Burt.