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New Mazda Car Material Eliminates Painting

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

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Automaker Mazda has unveiled its first cars to be made partly of a bio-plastic material that doesn’t need to be painted, and is said to provide superior strength and scratch-resistance.

Mazda, which has been working with Mitsubishi Chemical on the material, unveiled its Roadster RF at the EcoPro show in Tokyo last month, with small portions of the exterior constructed of the bio-plastic. Greater portions of the interior of several new Mazdas, including the Roadster RF, will also be made with the material.

Industry news sources report that the new Roadster RF feature “quarter garnish” and “side garnish” panels made of the bio-plastic. The company announced in 2014 that the material was ready for exterior use, but until now had only used it for interior components.

The Roadster RF is marketed in the U.S. as the MX-5 Miata RF.

Replacing ABS

Some auto parts—mostly trim and bumper components—are made of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resin, a durable thermoplastic polymer that must be painted as part of the production process. The new bio-plastic aims to replace the ABS and eliminate the painting step.

Conventional ABS material vs. Mazda's new biomaterial

The new material is plant-derived, Mazda says, and when dyed, it exhibits a “smooth, mirror-like finish” and a deeper hue than is generally created with paint on traditional ABS resins.

The material is plant-derived, Mazda says, and when dyed, it exhibits a “smooth, mirror-like finish” and a deeper hue than is generally created with paint on traditional ABS resins. While the cost of the new plastic is greater than that of a traditional ABS, Mazda says the cost is offset by the elimination of the painting process.

Environmental Effects

Mazda notes that the use of the biomaterial in place of the petroleum-based ABS reduces the use of fossil fuels and the product of CO2 in the production process, and eliminating the painting part of the job cuts down on volatile organic compounds, another environmental concern.

Editor's note: This story was one of our most popular of 2017, and appeared in our Readers' Choice edition on Dec. 27.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Automotive coatings; Bio-based materials; Coating Application; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers); Thermoplastic

Comment from Paul Brown, (1/4/2017, 8:26 AM)

Having read the above article I have some difficulty understanding the benefits of the concept described. The overview of the new process describes a mass coloured plastic part that in effect has been around for many years. The main innovation is the bio-sustainability of the polymer. Mass coloured plastic parts were largely discontinued in automotive due to the inability to have the same color as the body and the inability to incorporate effect into the color that is clearly possible and very widespread in modern automotive stylings (mica, aluminium, glass, alumina etc.). Therefore from my perspective this new approach will result in a return to non-color matched trim parts, a concept that was largely left behind in the last century. In addition how good is the anticipated durability of the new plastic surface? If no protective clearcoat is applied with a suitable high performance light stabilisation package then often the plastic is prone to significant chalking and surface degradation. In addition what will happen in the case of accident damage? With a mass colored component the most used option will be to replace the part or possibly to overcoat the naked part with a coating system which brings about color and appearance matching difficulties. Maybe I have overlooked something or am not aware of all the necessary details, however based on what I know, I fail to see the advantages of the 'new approach' and to be honest see it as a retrograde step in automotive vehicle finishing technology. I would be grateful if someone would counter my arguments with a positive assessment so that we better understand why this is seen as a breakthrough technology.

Comment from john schultz, (1/4/2017, 10:08 AM)

The main benefit it seems is the plant derived bio polycarbonate plastic is not petroleum based and as such it reduces the toxic products in traditional manufacturing and adds some "sustainability" to the equation. The plastic an be painted if desired but does not need to be. The link provided in the article gos slightly more in depth.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (1/4/2017, 11:11 AM)

So Mazda goes to the "greener" version of what Saturn had been doing since day 1 (plastic body panels) with the only difference being uniformly painted panels vs. mass colored panels. I can see both the benefits and shortcomings here and it will be interesting to see how widely the consumer will accept mass color vs. painting (i.e. will green win out over the vanity of metallic paint, pearls, micas and such).

Comment from Matt Mellott, (1/5/2017, 7:23 AM)

the answer is always Miata...

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