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Lexus Took 15 Years to Make Paint

Friday, October 13, 2017

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Drawing inspiration from nature and the wings of a butterfly, Lexus spent the last 15 years developing a new paint color that features an iridescent element.

The new shade, known as Structural Blue, will debut in everyday markets on the company’s LC coupe, which is slated to be offered only in limited quantities.

Blue Inside and Outside

According to Lexus, the key inspiration for Structural Blue came in the form of the Morpho butterfly. Even though the insect is most renowned for the hue of its wings, the color actually comes from light interference on the microscopic lattice surface structure. The wings themselves are clear.

Lexus

The new shade, known as Structural Blue, will debut in everyday markets on the company’s LC coupe, which is slated to be offered only in limited quantities.

Working in collaboration with thin film optical coatings manufacturer VIAVI Solutions Inc., Lexus sought to replicate a similar look in its new pigment, but became snagged in the development process with a coating that was composed of 40 different layers. The team eventually condensed it down to seven, which made it more practical for use on the LC coupe.

The pigment takes eight months to produce, which includes 12 steps and 20 quality inspections, according to Lexus. Upon completion, the paint is applied in a 15-micrometer layer between the primer and a clear coat. What gives Structural Blue that extra flair is the coating’s inherent nanostructures—super small flakes that generate iridescence.

“Conventional pigment paints reflect less than 50 percent of incoming light as a visible blue color, but with Structural Blue the level is nearly 100 percent,” Lexus said in a press release.

The car’s unique shade continues to its interior as an accent color known as Breezy Blue.

Only two LCs can be produced in a single day, according to the company.

   

Tagged categories: Coating Materials; Color; Research and development

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