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Virtual Tour Reveals New Paint Shop

Thursday, September 25, 2014

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Chrysler is showing off its brand-new Michigan paint shop with a little help from Google, giving anyone with Internet access an up-close look at its shiny new facility and fancy robots.

Using Google Maps Street View technology, the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant is on display via a 360-degree virtual tour.

Sterling Heights Assembly Plant

Chrysler and Google teamed up to launch a 360-degree virtual tour of the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant. Four videos are dedicated to the new paint shop. The first step, shown here, includes washing the car until every spec of dirt is removed before electrocoating it.

"I personally wish everyone could visit the plant to walk through and experience the fascinating process live," said Olivier Francois, Chief Marketing Officer, Chrysler Group LLC.

"But since we can't bring people to the plant, we've worked with Google to openly bring the plant to people."

Explore Every Inch

The interactive online tour,, is narrated by Shawn Jeffers, Senior Manager, Center Manager Assembly Operations at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant.

Chrysler virtual tour

"Like a barbeque chicken on a rotisserie," the car is rotated completely upside down to fill its crevices with sealant.

The guided tour has 12 unique videos dedicated to individual areas of the assembly plant. Users can also use the navigation tool to "explore every inch of the 5 million square feet on their own."

Chrysler and Google photographers teamed up to capture the auto-manufacturing process through a variety of films and photography.

Paint Shop Breakdown

The paint shop tour consists of four videos:

Google Maps businesses

According to Chrysler, 97 percent of the powder coating makes it on to the car; the remaining 3 percent is collected and reused.

  • Washing and Electrocoating: Each car gets seven baths and seven showers to remove all marks and fibers before getting an electrically charged coat of primer to create a "layer of defense against a car's worst enemy: corrosion." The electrocoating process hits 130,000 gallons of special paint with 250 volts of electricity to make the paint stick to the car like a magnet.
  • Underbody: "Like a barbeque chicken on a rotisserie," a rotating carrier is used to flip the car upside down while filling its nooks and crannies with sealant.
  • Powdercoating: Ten robots apply the powder coating, 97 percent of which makes it on to the car; the remaining 3 percent is reclaimed from grates in the floor and applied to the next car.
  • Painting: Ostrich feathers are used to dust the car before robots apply a tri-coat paint specially formulated for a 3D appearance.

Brink of Bankruptcy

In July 2013, Chrysler announced plans to invest $850 million into the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant—a facility on Chrysler's chopping block during the company's government-backed bankruptcy in 2009.

Chrysler 200

Ostrich feathers are used to dust the car before it receives its final coats of paint.

Built in 1953, the plant was originally used as a jet engine plant and was operated by the U.S. Army as the Michigan Ordinance Missile Plant, with Chrysler serving as contractor to build missiles.

It was converted to an automobile plant in 1980 by Volkswagen and purchased by Chrysler Corporation in 1983.


Tagged categories: Automotive coatings; Coating Application; North America; Robotics; Shop-applied coatings; Technology; Trends

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