AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Waterborne Paint is not that Green

September 19th, 2008 at 4:43pm

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A decade ago, waterborne paint was seen as a great way to reduce emissions from assembly plants. But now the industry seems to having second thoughts.

Painting cars requires a lot of paint solvents, and they give off a lot of emissions. It’s what they call volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. That’s why the industry got interested in water-based paints as a way to cut down on emissions from their painting operations.

But paint experts tell me that you have to use twice as much waterborne paint to make sure it goes on right. And since even waterborne paint has solvent in it, using twice as much paint means it puts out about the same emissions.

Plus, waterborne paint shops need to be air conditioned, which uses more energy. And so it looks like there will not be as much business going forward with waterborne paints, because they no longer look as ecologically beneficial as they did a decade ago.

5 Comments to “AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Waterborne Paint is not that Green”

  1. William R. Walling Says:

    John,
    “Suggest an INDUSTRY ‘review’ on employing ‘paint’ for a vehicle exterior method.”
    As Tom Watson (IBM legend) said, THINK!

  2. John Says:

    John McElroy,

    Has anybody done a study on the lifespan of a solvent based paint finish life and UV durability vs. a water based paint finish life and durability?

    If the water based automotive finish breaks down faster, then more paint and VOC would have to be used per vehicle over its lifespan.

    Every substitute water based finish I have used has a short life span.

    I have not used any water based car finishes. You always want to avoid being part of the experiment…

  3. Todd Elliott Says:

    Hey John,
    Like your show. I would like to say, as an artist and motorcycle painter, I found waterborne paints to be very durable. Being acrylic base, it can expand and contract with weather and vibrations. It all depends on the clearcoat in my opinion. The colors are UV rated (at least the one I use) as with other automotive paints, to last. Yes, better for emmision and protecting the environment from certain pollutants (air and dumping). However,
    I query whether using water is the best for cleanups after paint jobs. Water is a depleting resource in this world, not oil.

  4. mito bad paintwork - Alfa Romeo Forum Says:

    [...] way to reduce emissions from assembly plants. But now the industry seems to having second thoughts. AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Waterborne Paint is not that Green – John’s Journal on Autoline Detroit Painting cars requires a lot of paint solvents, and they give off a lot of emissions. It’s [...]

  5. Auto Paint Says:

    It is insightful to know that water paint would reduce as much emission as its solvent counterparts as we use double the amount of water paint. If this also emits the equal amount of VOCs and uses more power as in air-conditioned facility, it would be better to stick to our old techniques.