The flame treatment technology lets paint stick to plastic vehicle parts like door panels and instrument clusters without the use of primers that contain solvents which pollute the air.
The technology uses a robotic system that creates a molecular change to the surface of the plastic, allowing it to bond with the paint. This eliminates the need for primers (substances that promote adhesion).
GM says the technology is faster than spraying a primer and – from an investment perspective – pays for itself in less than four months.
The new process is being used in the production of Chevrolet Cruze, Sonic (Barina) and Volt vehicles.
In the example of the Cruze, the amount of air pollution has been decreased from 810 tonnes per year to just 80 tonnes per year solely as a result of the new painting process.
The amount of solid and liquid wastes (including solvents, coatings, filters and cleaners) has been reduced from 48 tonnes per year to less than one tonne per year, while landfill wastes (like paint sludge and painted scrap metal) have almost been eliminated, after previously measuring 25 tonnes.
Despite the advantages, Holden’s Shayna Welsh could not confirm if or when the technology would be introduced to the production process of the locally manufactured Cruze and/or Commodore.
“We haven’t got specific details [for local production] but it’s certainly something we’re looking at,” Ms Welsh said.
Pushed for a potential introduction date, Ms Welsh said “I wouldn’t put a timeline on it”, but insisted Holden would be “watching with interest” as the technology develops.