DuPont’s TuTone Wet-on-Wet paint system allowed Ford to meet market demand for its highest margin pickup trucks. Previously, having two finish colors required running a vehicle through paint booths a second time, or using expensive plastic cladding. DuPont’s innovative primer and basecoat system allows two-color painting with just one pass through the paint shop. In practice this eliminates a major bottleneck: last year Ford was able to produce 39,000 additional two-tone super-duty pickups, one of their most profitable and sought-after products.
DuPont achieved this with a wet accent color basecoat applied over a wet primer. The vehicle thus enters the initial primer bake with one color already in place. The second (main) basecoat and clearcoat are applied in the normal manner, with only limited masking and demasking. The finished product has a higher intrinsic quality and fewer defects than previous two-tone processes, yet requires less labor and less paint.
Key to this innovation was a large-scale, cooperative team effort between DuPont, Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant (KTP) and Ford Global Vehicle Operations in Dearborn. Two-tone trucks were in high demand, so speed was of the essence. Furthermore, KTP is Ford’s largest plant, has its highest line speed at 40 feet per minute, and operates at capacity. For the innovation to be viable it had to be validated by Ford quickly, and implemented without shutting down the paint line. Cooperation allowed that to happen. The team went from initial brainstorming, to DuPont’s application of its polymer chemistry expertise to developing a process, to the devising of a validation methodology and fine-tuning of the process, to installation, all in 18 months. Thanks to extraordinarily close teamwork among multiple sections of Ford and DuPont, Wet-on-Wet TuTone was implemented ahead of schedule and with immediate ramp-up to full production.