Innovation is probably the most cliché-ridden word in the modern corporative marketing. Most slogans, corporate mission statements and annual reports include the “innovation” word or its derivatives. Innovation, by definition, is a new product, process or method, which changes the usual, established set of product features and ways it is used. True innovation, however, is disruptive; it breaks the old rules and sets new standards.
Automotive industry has been always associated with novelties and break through ideas. Starting from Ford’s moving assembly line, which was afterwards implemented by virtually any manufacturer on the planet to electric cars and modern driverless cars. Tesla is a great example how a brand with no history can create value in the industry dominated by companies with more the hundred years of experience.
So, vehicle OEM coatings and refinishing industry is not an exemption. Automotive paint has been developing since the first car was produced, despite the fact that in the beginning paint wasn’t viewed as key sales factor. Remember Ford’s saying: “A customer can have a car painted any color he wants as long as it’s black.”
Unfortunately, there is little information available online about who was the first to invent certain, now commonly used, products. For example, polyester fillers, replaced lead many years ago, but I didn’t manage to find a reliable source about it. Neither could I find information about which paint manufacturer was the very first to introduce color mixing system. However, below I bring to your attention just a few products, which changed automotive OEM and collision repair process dramatically. Not all of these products are of the same importance, but they are definitely worth mentioning.
Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (here comes 3M) has the word “innovation” as its corporate slogan, and people in this multibillion and multinational company really mean it. There are countless patents in various industries. Below I name just a few 3M innovations, which have had undeniable impact on automotive refinishing industry. These products names, like Scotch-Brite or PPS, have become common names even for the products of competitors.
- Waterproof paper was invented in the early 1920s and is still used in automotive refinishing workshops around the globe, especially in the places where dust extraction is not an option.
- Scotch, is the first pressure sensitive masking tape, which was invented by a young lab assistant, Richard Drew in 1925.
- Scotch-Brite sanding and cleaning pads, developed in 1950s, are so versatile that this brand name is well-known to both to craftsmen and housewives around the world.
- Trizact and Cubitron are unique abrasives lines, which outperform in their category most of the competitive products.
- PPS (paint preparation system) is a broad category of products, with the disposable plastic cups in the core of the category. PPS has been a subject for patent wars, counterfeits and imitation.
In 1887, a maintenance supervisor in a department store, Joseph Binks invented a machine to paint walls. Even if his invention was primarily used for painting buildings, Binks created a solid foundation for the future spaying equipment. Binks brand is still well-known, especially in light industry applications.
Devilbiss is another great example of long history and innovation, which changed automotive industry from painting vehicles literally by brush to what is now a symbol of the industry – a spray gun. The brand was founded in Toledo, Ohio in 1888, when Dr Allen DeVilbiss invented a device for spraying medicines. Later on his son Thomas adapted the original atomizer to create a spray gun for the coatings application. The rest is the history…
Dupont (Axalta Group now)
Duco was actually the first dedicated automotive paint, developed for Ford in order to reduce drying times of the paint from days to a few hours only. Actually Duco was a nitrocellulose paint drying through solvent evaporation, which was used in the refinishing industry for almost 100 years.
It would fantastic if you, my dear readers, could share your information and views about the automotive coatings industry’s brightest minds and innovative brands.