The OEM automotive industry in Europe has been investing heavily in new and expanded auto paint shops.
Due to the leading position of the automotive industry in product and process technology development, the progress of coating applications led by many of these investments is likely to have a long-term impact on most areas of the European coating industry.
The innovation of automobile coating, especially in its application field, will be introduced into other coating markets sooner or later.
The automotive industry in Europe is the largest R & D investor in the region, with R & D spending accounting for 28% of total R & D expenditure, second only to the pharmaceutical industry.
In 2018, the EU's investment in automobile R & D increased by 6.7% annually, reaching 57.4 billion euros (US $63 billion). The growth in paint shop projects is driven by the need for more efficient paint processes to reduce costs, eliminate waste, reduce energy consumption and reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from carbon dioxide and air pollution.
Another major factor is the need to keep pace with digital and automation in order to maintain the international competitiveness of the European automotive industry.
Among Europe's paint shops and other car manufacturing capabilities, the most active investor is the Chinese carmaker, which has adopted highly automated technology in its Chinese car factories.
In addition, European OEMs will have to restructure their coatings and other production processes in the face of the potential for significant growth in demand for electric vehicles (EVS) and their hybrids.
In the long run, automakers must also prepare for the newly designed autopilot with appearance and interior trim.
According to the Brussels transport and Environment Agency, the EU's electric vehicle sales grew 38% in 2018.
Electric vehicles still account for 2% of the total European car market.
However, the position of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles will change in 2020, and by 2030, the output of light vehicles driven only by internal combustion engines will be almost zero.
Analysts say about three-quarters of new cars will be hybrids of all types, with the rest powered entirely by eV or fuel cells.
Volkswagen, Europe's largest carmaker, is revamping its entire plant in Zwickau, Germany, including a paint shop, to produce about 300000 electric vehicles a year.
At the same time, the European Commission, the EU's executive director, predicts that by the 2020's, European highways and cities will allow some autonomous cars and trucks to drive at low speeds.
They will be fully autonomous by 2030.
Due to the improvement of digitalization and automation, especially through the use of robots, new or expanded paint workshops in Europe will have unprecedented versatility.
In a new paint shop recently opened in mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic by Skoda, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, 66 robots are helping with the painting process. Michael oeljeklaus, a board member of the company, described it as "one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in Europe.".
Among them is a new generation of 7-axis paint shop robot developed by DURR Systems Ag in Germany, which can easily reach parts of the body that are usually difficult to access.
According to Skoda, the new robot can be covered with 108 square meters of coating on the body, while the current average surface area of passenger cars is 88 square meters.
The digital system of the new paint shop (e.g. mlada Boleslav) allows the process parameters of each car to be individually selected, allowing for custom ranges, especially in color applications.
The identification of each vehicle can be digitally transmitted to each workstation in the paint shop, so that specific colors or effects can be applied to the applied vehicle.
This capability increases the production of a two tone car, usually with a different roof color than the rest of the body.
Nissan has invested 100 million pounds ($135 million) in its plant in Sunderland, northeast England, to launch new juke compact cars for the European market.
This includes four new paint booths in its paint shop, which can apply 15 different two tone body color combinations.
For ordinary paint systems, using two tone colors requires extra time and effort, especially since masking tape must be used to prevent the second color from overlapping the basic color.
Due to the accuracy of the manipulator, the automation makes it unnecessary to cover the adhesive tape for spraying automobiles.
Using one of its new generation robots, DURR claims that it can apply contrasting colors to cars in a 120 second cycle time, compared to about 50 minutes in the case of masking tape.
The robot of advanced spray painting workshop has the accuracy and adaptability of digital printer because it has many digital control holes in the nozzle.
As a result, in the paint shop line, each car can be given a different color design.