The German automotive brand BMW has developed a robotic painting process capable of performing custom body painting that usually requires extensive preparation.
Robotics is widely used in the automotive industry, especially for body painting. While robot painters are capable of working faster than a human, they lack the ability to perform custom paint jobs involving different patterns and colors.
But BMW has just made a promising breakthrough with its new EcoPaintJet Pro robot, which can paint entire car bodies with complex multi-color patterns.
Normally, a custom paint job requires many steps with a lot of masking work in order to juxtapose the shades.
BMW’s EcoPaintJet Pro robot uses a process similar to an inkjet printer. With a conventional robot painter, the paint is sprayed through a nozzle that rotates at 35 to 55,000 revolutions per minute. The paint adheres electrostatically.
The EcoPaintJet Pro uses half-millimeter thick jets sprayed through an orifice plate. This system produces highly accurate painted edges and creates intricate designs with color transitions as clean as if masking or stenciling had been used.
Less paint and energy wasted
The robot was tested at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Munich on nineteen BMW M4s with a two-tone finish featuring M4 branding on the hood and tailgate. Eventually, BMW wants to expand the use of EcoPaintJet Pro to offer customers more affordable customization options.
The German automaker also points to the fact that the precision of its process avoids the excess paint usually seen in paint booths that must be cleaned up with chemicals. BMW assures that the EcoPaintJet Pro will lower energy consumption by reducing the amount of air needed for booth ventilation. This new robotic painting process will be introduced on BMW’s assembly lines starting in 2022.