GM applies three-wet paint process to Chevy Sonic; new paint shop uses 50% less process energy per vehicle
General Motors is using a water-based “three-wet” paint process on the Chevy Sonic. The process, rising in use globally, eliminates the need for a primer bake oven, normally used between the primer and color-coating layers. The Orion Assembly Center allows three layers of paint to be applied one after another while still wet before a single trip though the oven.
This process reduces the paint shop footprint by 10%, providing additional floor space and reducing the energy needed to heat and cool these areas. This process also upholds the car’s glossy sheen, reflectiveness and durability.
Orion’s new paint shop was engineered to minimize energy use while reducing solvent emissions. By using the three-wet process, a thin film pretreatment, and exceptionally lean design methods, Orion’s paint shop uses 50% less process energy per vehicle than the shop it replaced. It is also heated by natural and landfill gas, which results in less emissions than coal-fired boilers.
When full shift production is achieved, Orion’s new paint shop will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 80,000 metric tons per year—equivalent to the annual emissions from 14,000 vehicles—and solvent emissions by about 108,000 pounds of solvent per year.
These cost-saving paint process improvements trimmed the manufacturing costs by about $40 per vehicle.