Chevy Sonic Gets Eco-Friendly Paint Job

To many buyers, the shine and sparkle of their new car is a key purchase driver. With the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, the only subcompact car made in America, drivers can admire the gloss knowing the latest paint processes were applied in a new eco-friendly paint shop to ensure high quality with less environmental impact.

General Motors is the first automaker in the United States to use a unique water-based “three-wet” paint process.  Fast becoming a global trend, the process eliminates the need for a primer bake oven, normally used between the primer and color-coating layers. The Orion Assembly Center allows three layers of paint to be applied one after another while still wet before a single trip though the oven.   

This process reduces the paint shop footprint by 10 percent, providing additional floor space and reducing the energy needed to heat and cool these areas. This process also upholds the car’s glossy sheen, reflectiveness and durability expected to last years beyond the purchaser’s final car payment.

“Cutting our greenhouse gas emissions and reducing our energy consumption were key to implementing our water-based ‘three-wet’ paint process,” said Mauricio Pincheira, paint manager at Orion. “We want to provide a durable paint that impresses our first-time Sonic customers and maintain the tough environmental standards we have across the company.”

Orion’s new paint shop was engineered to minimize energy use while reducing solvent emissions.  By using the three-wet process, a thin film pretreatment, and exceptionally lean design methods, Orion’s paint shop uses 50 percent less process energy per vehicle than the shop it replaced. It is also heated by natural and landfill gas, which results in less emissions than coal-fired boilers.

When full shift production is achieved, Orion’s new paint shop will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 80,000 metric tons per year – equivalent to the annual emissions from 14,000 vehicles – and solvent emissions by about 108,000 pounds of solvent per year.

These cost-saving paint process improvements trimmed the manufacturing costs by about $40 per vehicle.

 

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