The world’s top automakers unveiled their latest models at the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit. During the press preview days, Associate Editor Karen Parker and I had the opportunity to meet with Paul Czornij, Technical Manager, Color Excellence Group, and Stacey Russell, Marketing Communications Manager, BASF. BASF’s automotive coatings portfolio includes OEM and automotive refinish coatings.

The company’s modern paint processes, combined with its special-effect pigments and technologies, result in a full-breadth of color solutions and development capabilities. Innovation and technology were clearly the focus at the company’s 4,500-square-foot supplier exhibit. Czornij explained how BASF’s researchers have combined new technology with current trends to develop unique automotive colors, gloss levels and textures for the 2015 model year. Color trends point to a desire to go back to our roots, and are exhibited in BASF’s colors, which have a Native American feel with turquoise, earth tones and non metallics. Another trend is with pastels. Silver, grey, black and white are popular automotive colors around the world.

The popularity of these elegant, sophisticated colors is linked to the surge in technology seen in so many other consumer areas. BASF has introduced a twist, however, by adding a hint of color to these, giving metallic colors with a splash of pastel tints. In addition to developing new colors, BASF researchers have focused on the company’s ColorFuse™ technology, an advanced coating technology that provides a highly efficient, integrated painting process via the integration, or “fusion,” of the traditional basecoat and clearcoat into a single coating layer. Using technical advancements, a coating system was developed with excellent appearance, physical properties and outdoor durability.

Using this technology reduces material usage and lowers VOC emissions. We found the most interesting element of the BASF showcase to be a display showing the company’s Imager technology. With this technique, images can be embedded within the coating, using the effect of a magnetic field to generate shapes, words and the like. Coatings can then contain a fresh or personalized look, which arises from flaked effect pigments orienting to form the desired image. Depending on the strength of the orientation, the image comes from the difference in light reflection from certain viewing angles. The Auto Show is always an exciting event here in Detroit. It is great to be able to see all of the innovative ideas for the automotive coatings of the future!