BMW Brings AI into Its Munich Paint Shop

BMW is piloting new usage of AI in its plants—this time they are giving it a shot in their Munich plant paint shop.

Even though BMW employees top-notch air filter tech, fine dust particles in paint lines will vary according to the ambient air drawn into the lines. If the dust content goes over a certain amount, the wet paint could trap particles making for uneven paint jobs.

Using AI, BMW engineers and AI specialists have found a way to avoid the problem entirely. Now, every newly painted car body goes through an automatic surface analysis in the paint shop. The data gathered during these inspections are helping BMW develop a massive database of dust particle analysis. Now the AI uses the database for comparison to live particle sensor data coming from the paint booths and dryers.

One example how the AI works is when dust levels are rising due to the season or a long dry period the AI can detect this trend and recommend and earlier filter replacement to help mitigate particle levels.

The AI might also use its analytical abilities to suggest that a factory use a different material to remove dust from car bodies before painting.

BMW AI monitors and analyzes 160 features of car bodies and is able to predict paint job quality with great accuracy. AI experts at BMW are confident once they’ve completed the project in Munich the technology will be able to applied widely to all their plants.


Toyota’s New Tech Means Better Paint Jobs

Time, money and pollution are top concerns for the auto industry today and Toyota’s latest invention—an airless paint atomizer—handles all three issues.
The claim by Toyota is that this is the first airless paint atomizer in the world to be used on car bodies. The technology supposedly provides coating efficiency over 95%. Meaning that over 95% of the paint actually sticks to the body. Typical paint atomizers only have 60-70% efficiency.

Toyota even thinks this new technique will lower their carbon dioxide emissions by around 7% due to the increased efficiency of the new atomizer.

One wold have to take a close look though to notice the difference between Toyota’s new atomizer and a traditional one. The most important difference is found in the tip where small parts distribute the paint. The airless atomizer has a spinning tip that make centrifugal force.

The tip includes six hundred some grooves that direct the paint. The spinning tip creates an electrostatic umbrella toward the car being painted. The grooves make the paint into tiny dots which are drawn toward the body of the car. With the air-based atomizers paint is essentially just being thrown at the car and what sticks is it.
The new tech from Toyota also creates a more even surface coverage.

Traditional paint atomizers are very sensitive to distance where was the new airless one monitors and adjusts the speed of its parts to compensate for changes in distance.

Right now the new airless atomizers are being used just in the Takaoka and Tsutsumi plants in Japan, but Toyota’s expectation is that the technology will eventually be used universally across its global manufacturing facilities.

Ready for a Glow?

A glow-in-the-dark car that is! In Europe, Nissan is testing a glow-in-the-dark paint on their electric Nissan Leaf. This is what the Victor crew found out:

It’s a coating that absorbs the sun’s rays during the day and will continue to glow 8 to 10 hours after the sun goes down. Although not the first to try this, they believe their paint will last 25 years. The paint itself has a rough feel to it.

Last year, Nissan demonstrated a “self-cleaning” car. It was a special paint that would allow dirt and grease to simply fall off in sheets as it is drives.

Joe Victor


Remove “Wash Car” from Your To-Do List … Forever!

Well, Jody, that might be a slight hyperbole; however, it is true Nissan is testing a unique paint coating that may allow you to check “wash car” off your honey-do list forever. Developed by UltraTech International, Inc. even with its gimmicky name, “Ultra-Ever Dry,” the technology looks pretty cool and could be a boon for non-car enthusiasts who view their vehicles as merely a means of conveyance and not a something to labor over lovingly.

Nissan likely has a winner on their hands as they have smartly been testing it on a car for non-car people, a Note hatch-back.

Nissan describes the coating as: “super-hydrophobic and oleophobic”. In other words after the coating is applied it should instantly repel dirt, water and more. Nissan adds that this will probably not be a standard feature, but will be made available as an extra—like buying a lifetime supply of car washes in advance. No word yet on how much the coating may cost.
Nissan has even provided an amusing video about the product.

Visit the Car & Driver blog for more information.

Joe Victor