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GM to eliminate solvents from paint process

Automaker says new flame treatment, used on the Chevy Cruze, eliminates need for primers and other solvents


August 24, 2011
by Canadian Manufacturing Daily Staff

DETROIT—General Motors Corp. (GM) will introduce a new flame treatment technology into its painting process that helps paint stick to plastic vehicle parts without using adhesion-promoting primers that contain solvents.

Currently, GM manages solvents in its supply chain through recycling, energy conversion and superheating, breaking the gases down. But these practices are energy-intensive and costly.

The new flame treatment technology uses an energy-efficient robotic system to create a molecular change to the surface of the plastic, making it bond with the paint.

The automaker says the technology improves efficiency and pays for itself in four months.

It’s currently being used on the Chevrolet Cruze, Sonic and Volt.

GM says suppliers have reduced solid and liquid waste by 47 tons a year, decreased air pollutants from 810 tons a year to 80 tons and eliminated landfill waste, like paint sludge and painted scrap metal, from 25 tons to nearly zero – on the Cruze alone.