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Technicians display the hood of a 911 customized via the company’s newly-developed “direct printing” paint process. (Porsche)

Customization drives new Porsche paint process

Merging standard automotive manufacturing and paint-shop processes with hardware inspired by the printing industry.

Combining manufacturing and paint-shop processes with hardware and software similar to those used in the printing industry, Porsche says it has ready a new customization option for its 911 lineup that will allow customers to apply a custom design to the paintwork of the vehicle. To demonstrate the technique, Porsche initially is offering the ability to imprint the hood with a recreation of the customer’s own fingerprint, but other customer-desired designs are intended to be offered later.

The company developed the new “direct printing” paint method in conjunction with partners, saying the technique makes it possible to produce painted designs “that are not possible with conventional painting.” Currently, adding special designs on specific areas of a vehicle’s sheetmetal typically is achieved by applying film graphics or so-called “skins,” but Porsche said that in terms of aesthetics and tactile sensation, the new paint process is superior to film-based appliques. 

Porsche explained that the technology is similar to an inkjet printer. A print head applies paint to three-dimensional components automatically and without overspray. “The ability to control the nozzles individually permits targeted application of every paint droplet,” said Christian Will, vice president – production development at Porsche AG. “The complexity is due to the necessity of harmonizing three technologies: robot technology (control, sensors, programming), application technology (print head, graphic handling) and paint technology (application process, paint).”

Setting up the cell
A “technology cell” created in the paint shop of Porsche’s Zuffenhausen training center developed and tested the new manufacturing and paint processes and is used to train technicians. Customers can specify the paint, as is done with many other customization options, through the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur center in Zuffenhausen, which has 30 employees dedicated to installing an array of cosmetic and “technical personalization options.”

After a customer’s new 911 has been built, the specialists in the Exclusive Manufaktur operation remove the hood and the robotic print head paints the data-secured representation of the owner’s fingerprint. The hood then receives an additional clearcoat spray and is polished to production standard before reinstallation onto the car. For now, the new paint-customization process also carries an exclusive price: 7,500 euros in Germany. The option’s availability began in March 2020.

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