One in a Million
Night Blue, Pompeii Gray, or Frozen Bronze – these may sound like the current trend colors in the fall/winter collection, but they are not. They are the latest and most fashionable metallic car colors. The days are over when customers could order any color as long as it was black. Today, customers can choose from thousands of shades. Shimmering glitter tones are at the top of consumers’ wish lists right now. But the challenge begins when the car has to be repainted after getting a scratch.
The human eye can differentiate about ten million colors. However, perception is a very subjective matter, influenced by the surrounding colors, the degree of brightness, and the eye itself. Above all, our perception of metallic colors changes, depending on the angle they are viewed from.
For such cases, AkzoNobel, one of the world’s leading paint manufacturers, has relied on the spectrophotometers of BYK-Gardner for more than ten years. For determining metallic colors, in particular, the two companies developed a special multi-angle spectrophotometer for car repair shops around ten years ago. It records the paint finish with a fixed light source and analyzes the color using detectors from different measuring angles. In this way, data are obtained for perfect color matching. In 2011, the time had come to develop a new generation of devices.
From Idea to Successful Product
BYK-Gardner wanted the new spectrophotometer to be more precise and handier than its predecessor, yet affordable for smaller paint shops and compatible with AkzoNobel’s color-matching software Mixit. Research and development employees of the two companies got down to work. BYK-Gardner was responsible for the design concept and measurement optics, and programmed the interface to the user software. AkzoNobel developed the operating concept, the user menu, and the touchscreen. In 2014, AkzoNobel brought the Automatchic Vision (AMV) onto the market. “We set new standards with the device,” says Dr. Stephanie Arzt, key account manager at BYK-Gardner. “Due to the new technologies employed, we were able to achieve even more precise measurement accuracy and user friendliness.”
The AMV is the very first WiFi-capable multiangle spectrophotometer. It is placed right on the vehicle. The data recorded can then be sent via WLAN to the repairshop computer. Subsequently, the software determines the exact color formulation in just a few seconds, even when it comes to very sophisticated metallic colors.
From Supplier to Partner
Like most global companies, AkzoNobel has significantly reduced the number of its suppliers in recent years in order to bundle its purchasing volume, to harmonize processes, and to cut costs. In this chain, ALTANA considers itself a partner that supports AkzoNobel with knowhow and innovative ability. The keyword is cooperation. “We are close to our customers, think along with them, and identify and use optimization opportunities,” says Dr. Stephanie Arzt, describing the cooperation. Research and development are particularly important: ALTANA invests six percent of its sales in work on new products and applications every year, far above the industry average. With an eye to the future, the teams at AkzoNobel and BYK-Gardner are discussing new application areas for the AMV outside the automotive refinish sector. The objective: to set new standards once again.
In 2011, Stephanie Arzt began working in ALTANA Corporate Innovation as a participant in the so-called Cross Divisional Development Program. She was involved in numerous projects and became acquainted with different ALTANA divisions. These experiences were advantageous to Arzt, who holds a PhD in chemistry, when she switched to Key Account Management two years later. “I really enjoy collaborating closely with customers and developing new solutions with them.” Dr. Arzt has benefited in the Effect Pigments and Additives segments not least of all from the coatings expertise of her colleagues at ECKART and BYK, who also supply to AkzoNobel.
TEAMWORK WITH CUSTOMERS
A scratch in car paint is annoying enough. So it is all the more important to use the exactly right color when repainting it. In close cooperation with its longtime customer AkzoNobel, BYK-Gardner experts have developed an innovative spectrophotometer for this purpose. With Automatchic Vision and the appropriate software from AkzoNobel, automotive paint shops can determine the perfect color formulation within a very short time. The device has set standards: It evaluates the color from different angles of observation and transfers the data obtained via WiFi to the PC.