In December 2001 General Motors approached PPG Industries with the idea of using keyed color-specific powder primer on interior and exterior surfaces, replacing liquid solvent primers. General Motors wanted to expand its use of powder for environmental and cost reasons. Powder has zero VOCs versus a solvent liquid system, and eliminates the sludge and hazardous material of such a system. Powder provides cost savings per vehicle, plus a superior interior finish, increasing value for both OEM and consumer.
PPG responded to General Motors' challenge by developing a ten color palette to prove the technology was capable and reliable in an assembly plant. A joint development program was formally launched.
To make the Color Harmony system work, cooperative process and application innovation was required. The development of the powder canisters came from the Paint & Polymers Engineering Technology Validation Team at General Motors. The team recognized the need for a color changer that would meet paint shop requirements, while controlling production cost. The working prototype was completed in September 2002, and by July 2003 GM's Powder Canister system was production-ready. It was proven with PPG's color specific powder primer at the Baltimore Facility, then taken to the new Lordstown Assembly Plant, where various colors are applied daily to the Chevy Cobalt interiors. The Powder Canister system has unlimited capability for color switchovers, making it very efficient and flexible.
On the material side, PPG's challenge was to match a standard liquid color palette in a powder system. Colors had to be compatible, and reclamation used as the first coat of color-keyed powder. PPG used its Flint Application Center to prove feasibility of the material and then the overall system at production speeds prior to plant testing at GM's Baltimore Facility.
The Color Harmony process is a perfect example of an application and product conceived and designed to work together, resulting in a reliable, robust, and cost-effective system for the paint shop at the General Motors Lordstown Assembly Plant - and beyond.