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A Comparison Of Car Painting Methods Through The Ages

It’s hard to believe that cars were still being hand-painted just a hundred years ago. With the advent of modern car painting methods, it’s hard to imagine that such a process existed. But how did we reach here from there?

In this blog post, Inside Out Car Care explores the history of car painting and compares the various methods used over the years.

Car Painting in the Old Days:

The early days of car painting were pretty simple. People used to paint cars the same way they painted horse-drawn carriages. Cars were hand-painted using a brush and natural color and bases. Then clear coated to protect the paint. This process was time-consuming and resulted in an uneven finish.

The Advent of Spray Guns and Lacquer Paint:

In the 1920s, car paint began to evolve with the invention of the spray gun. This new tool allowed a more even paint application, resulting in a better finish. The discovery of nitrocellulose lacquer paints and primers by the DuPont chemical firm in 1923 further transformed vehicle paint. This paint dried quickly, making it ideal for use in cars.

However, the downside was extensive labor and lacquer paint’s susceptibility to petroleum-based solvents.

The Introduction to Enamel Paint:

In the 1930s, carmakers began experimenting with different types of paint, including enamel. Enamel paint was more durable than lacquer and didn’t require as much labor to apply. This made it a more affordable car painting method for manufacturers and consumers alike.

The biggest disadvantage of enamel paint is that it oxidizes fast when exposed to sunshine. In rare circumstances, the color may disappear in a matter of months.

The Clear Coat Method:

In the 1970s, carmakers began using a clear coat paint method.

Instead of exposing the pigment to the environment, producers would cover the pigment layer behind a protective, transparent layer of clear coat. The clear coat also helped give cars a high-gloss finish. UV inhibitors were also added to paint formulas to protect the clear coat and pigment layers from the sun’s radiation.

This system was initially exclusively used for high-end automobiles. By the 1990s, the industry had almost universally implemented the method.

The Modern Era of Car Paint:

Most current car paint employs the same basic concept as the paints developed in the 1970s: a primer, a pigment, and a transparent layer. The most significant changes we’ve observed primarily involve product quality and longevity, as well as a greater selection of colors and finishes.

Today, most cars are painted with either water-based or powder-based paint. Water-based paint is less harmful and easier to apply than other types of paint, making it a popular choice among carmakers. Powder-based paint is also less likely to chip or fade over time, making it a durable car painting method.

So, there you have it! A comparison of car painting methods through the ages. As you can see, the process of painting cars has come a long way since the days of lead-based paint. Today, there are many options available for car painting, each with its benefits.

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