Exterior appearance plays a significant role in vehicle selection and purchase.
However, over time, environmental and mechanical influences can cause scratches on the surface. Customer surveys such as J.D. Power reveal that the number and degree of those scratches is a cause for vehicle owner dissatisfaction.
To combat this, BASF developed an automotive clear coat that offers superior scratch resistance without sacrificing the glossy appearance.
"Our goal was to set a new standard for scratch resistance," said William Kosteniuk, account manager, Asian Accounts North America at BASF. "We wanted to create a clear coat solution that enabled the vehicle to look newer, longer."
The chemists at BASF created iGloss, a durable clear coat that provides long-lasting protection against microscratches.
An automotive clear coat capable of shielding vehicles from environmental influences such as snow, sunshine and acid rain, as well as mechanical influences such as car washes and road salt, requires seemingly contradictory elements: hardness and flexibility.
iGloss deviates from traditional clear coat composition by combining organic and inorganic materials in a nanostructured hybrid. Organic materials make up 90 to 95 percent of this paint matrix, facilitating elasticity and high weather resistance. Inorganic materials make up five to 10 percent of the matrix, offering the hardness necessary for unmatched scratch resistance.
This durable clear coat achieves instant reflow rates of 90 percent, meaning the coating immediately springs back to around 90 percent on impact. Conventional clear coats only attain reflow rates of approximately 70 percent.
Short term and long term testing has demonstrated iGloss offers a brilliant, yet protective clear coat. In fact, one automaker found iGloss improved scratch resistance and appearance by more than 25 percent.
With iGloss, BASF predicts owners will see less deterioration of the vehicle coat over time, positively impacting owner satisfaction and resale value.
In addition to improving the product, BASF developed it in a way that improves processing.
To save energy and time, manufacturers are implementing a three-wet or integrated process for coatings. While the new process reduces VOCs and CO2 emissions, the thin coating layers magnify any flaws on the substrate. iGloss flows out and fills in irregularities, eliminating a large degree of roughness. This means automakers can achieve the aesthetic sought after by their customers, without sacrificing energy efficiency.
And while today many vehicles remain parked for 95 percent of the time, ride-hailing and self-driving trends will require near-constant use of vehicles in the future. With each additional mile logged on the road, the need for a superior, durable coating becomes even more prevalent.