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BMW Reveals Vantablack-Coated X6

Friday, August 30, 2019

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German automobile and motorcycle manufacturer BMW has recently unveiled a special edition Vantablack-coated BMW X6.

Known as “the world’s blackest black,” the controversial coating system is reported to absorb 99.96% of light.

About the Coatings War

Developed by Surrey NanoSystems (Newhaven, United Kingdom) in 2014, the pigment’s Vantablack name stands for, “Vertically Aligned Nanotube Array black,” and is described as a free-space coating consisting of a “forest”' of aligned and equally spaced, high aspect-ratio carbon nanotubes (CNTs).

Originally, the coating design was intended for use on satellites and Stealth jets, while NanoSystems’ suggested applications range from solar energy and spectroscopy to passive climate controls and visual spaces in architecture.

However, a few years after the development in February 2016, Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor won exclusive rights to the coating, becoming the only artist allowed to use the color.

Prior to the end of the year, California infrared instrumentation company Santa Barbara Infrared announced that it too had reached an agreement with Surrey NanoSystems for exclusive use in blackbody calibration sources. SBIR is reported to have sole rights to the use of Vantablack S-VIS—which is slightly less black than the original coating, but more versatile—in its field.

As a response to Kapoor’s deal with NanoSystems in being the sole artist to use Vanatblack, another British artist, Stuart Semple, revealed the “world’s pinkest pink” in December 2016, with usage rights available to everyone, except Kapoor.

A little over a year later, Semple announced another anti-Kapoor coating, a cherry-scented Vantablack dig. Although Semple never made any quantifiable claims about his version of Vantablack, known as “Black V1.0 Beta,” the coating was described to be “the world’s mattest, flattest, blackest art material.”

War continued to wage between the artists and in July 2017, Semple reportedly banned Kapoor from using his color-changing paints, Phaze and Shift, in addition to previously being banned from several of Semple's product lines.

By February of this year, the latest installment of the blackest black paint was revealed by Semple. Reported to absorb 98.99% of visible light, Black 3.0—also described as “a black hole in a bottle” by Semple—is another black matte paint, also banned from Kapoor.

Vantablack BMW X6

In a collaboration between NanoSystems and creative agency Levitation 29, the two have created a sprayable version of the Vantablack pigment. According to BMW, the BMW VBX6 is the “first and only vehicle in the world” to feature the Vantablack VBx2 coating system.

Only slightly different from the original coating, the VBx2 almost entirely removes all reflections on the vehicle through a sponge-like structured technology, rather than a series of microscopic vertical tubes, and encompasses a 1% total hemispherical reflectance.

"We realized that it wouldn't have worked if we'd put on the original Vantablack material, as the viewer would have lost all sense of three-dimensionality," said Ben Jensen, Vantablack inventor and founder of Surrey NanoSystems.

Because most of the car’s features appear to be lost in the void-like coating, the human eye is still about to perceive the vehicle as two-dimensional in places.

"Internally, we often refer to the BMW X6 as 'The Beast,'" said Hussein Al Attar, designer of the BMW X6. "The Vantablack VBx2 finish emphasises this aspect and makes it look particularly menacing."

"We often prefer to talk about silhouettes and proportions rather than surfaces and lines. The Vantablack VBx2 coating foregrounds these fundamental aspects of automotive design, without any distraction from light and reflections."

The BMW VBX6 is to make its official debut at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany, from Sept. 12-22.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Automotive coatings; Coating Materials; Coating Materials - Commercial; Coatings; Coatings Technology; Coatings Technology; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Project Management; Spray systems; Vantablack; Z-Continents

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