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The coatings from Bollig & Kemper make cars shine, thanks to Xirallic® effect pigments from EMDStage Image

The coatings from Bollig & Kemper make cars shine, thanks to Xirallic® effect pigments from EMD

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New colors

Paint’s bright future

2013/2/18

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Like clothes for people, paints smarten up objects and protect them against the elements. And, like clothes, they are very much subject to fashion. Bollig & Kemper is a master of all aspects of paint, and successful too — for example, in the automotive industry.

A world without paints would be a gloomy place, because paints bring color into our lives. The Cologne-based paint producer Bollig & Kemper has been brightening up the world since 1919. The company, which is one of Europe’s largest suppliers of coatings to the automotive industry, is now in its third generation of family ownership. “A midsized car requires around 13 kilos of paint,” explains Wilhelm Kemper. Kemper, who is in his late 50s, manages the company together with wife Claudia and brother Heinrich.

“The groundwork already begins two to three years before the launch of a new model in a new color.“

Wilhelm Kemper
member of the management
Bollig & Kemper

Although he initially wanted to become a musician, Kemper opted to study business administration, earned a doctorate, but nonetheless had to join the family firm. “I only ever get chance to pursue my passion for music in my free time!” he says. Other enthusiasms include traveling in Asia and a love of all things French.

A highly specialized industry


In 2008, Kemper took the company to Asia — or, more precisely, China — together with his business partner Nippon Paint. Since then Bollig & Kemper has been supplying automotive coatings to European carmakers with production plants in the People’s Republic, where there is a pronounced taste for shimmering color effects. 

It has been a huge success story, and one that seems all the more incredible in retrospect. Back in the 1990s, when the automobile industry was relying on a mere handful of global suppliers, family-run companies like Bollig & Kemper were “old hat,” as one automotive manager expressed it. “Very reluctantly, we sold our operations in the development and manufacture of automotive coatings,” Kemper recalls. He smiles as he remembers how the story ended: “But only a few years later, the very same industry asked us to come back on board.”

The Kempers were delighted, but they had to practically start again from scratch. “The paint business is highly specialized,” Kemper explains. For example, a wood paints specialist would be fairly lost in the world of automotive coatings, and vice versa. Yet the company’s return was a success, in large part because the company had retained some solid basic expertise in this segment.

  • Wilhelm Kemper, member of the management at Bollig & KemperEnlarge
  • Wilhelm Kemper, member of the management at Bollig & Kemper
    © Bollig & Kemper

    Two or three years of preparation


    For Kemper, the automotive coatings business is founded on a strong partnership with the carmakers. “The groundwork already begins two to three years before the launch of a new model in a new color,” Kemper explains. The company meets with the designers, who present their ideas for colors. “It’s not a gut decision,” says Kemper. “Designers always have good reasons for their choice of colors.” Bollig & Kemper then produces paint samples based on these colors. 


    Even at this stage the company is mindful of not only the coating’s aesthetic qualities but also its technical properties with regard to industrial mass production. Wilhelm Kemper takes a swatch of color samples. These are produced by a paint robot equipped with a high-speed rotating atomizer that revolves 40,000 times per second to generate extremely fine droplets of paint. This fine mist of paint is electrostatically charged. In a computer-controlled process, strips of charged plastic positioned around the atomizer deflect the paint droplets onto the workpiece — in this instance, plates of metal for the color sample swatch.

    Effect pigments make life more beautiful: Atsuko Nishimagi works at the research and development department in Onahama, Japan, where EMD operates several facilities for the production of the successful Xirallic® pigments

    Effect pigments make life more beautiful: Atsuko Nishimagi works at the research and development department in Onahama, Japan, where EMD operates several facilities for the production of the successful Xirallic® pigments

    © EMD

    Further Information

    A deep luster from within


    Thanks to Xirallic® effect pigments from EMD, Bollig & Kemper’s new red car coating glows with a deep, seductive luster. Two years from now, buyers of a certain German-made roadster will marvel at its sheen. The robot has applied the paint to the swatch plate in tiered layers of increasing overall thickness. From a thickness of around 12 micrometers upward, the black-and-white checked pattern on the plate is no longer visible, not even when viewed from an angle.

    And holes punched into the plate also enable experts to verify the paint’s tendency to run — or, in this case, not to run — and form droplets at the edges of a workpiece. Apart from a gleaming finish and usability in mass production, an automotive coating must have other properties. “It must protect against corrosion and against chipping from small stones; and it has to be resistant to a range of environmental influences, from UV to bird droppings,” says Kemper. 


    At the same time, paint producers must be able to guarantee a high color consistency over many years. This applies to paints for not only the various metals in a car body but also the plastic parts, which require coatings of a different composition. Here a process known as color matching ensures that the vehicle doesn’t end up looking like a patchwork rug. Environmental compatibility is also a major consideration. Here the introduction of water-soluble paints with aqueous polyurethane resin and microgels has brought major progress. All of these basic materials, as well as the resins, are manufactured in-house by Bollig & Kemper.

    Even more properties in future


    In an industry in which it costs €100–150 million to set up a new paint shop, innovation is very much an evolutionary necessity. The latest advance is a reduction in the number of layers applied to a vehicle from four to three. What next? Wilhelm Kemper, who is already preparing for the fourth generation of the family to take up the reins, sees a bright future for the company. “We will see paints with even more properties — paints that can generate electricity from sunlight, and paints that can switch color.” And even the fascinating prospect of vehicle bodies made of fiberglass reinforced plastic doesn’t worry him. “They will need a paint that protects them against UV,” he says.

    Xirallic® effect pigments

     
     

     

  • Schematic structure of a Xirallic® pigment: The pigment consists of an aluminum oxide core (substrate) surrounded by a layer of titanium dioxide. Layers of different thickness influence the refraction of the light in order to create colors such as gold, red, blue, and green (interference colors). The Xirallic® range also includes products in which the aluminum oxide core is coated with iron(III) oxide instead of titanium dioxide. This creates copper or red color effects, depending on the layer's thicknessEnlarge
  • Effect pigment platelets have a much larger diameter than conventional absorption pigments. The platelets generally tend to orient themselves in parallel when the coating is applied. Light rays are reflected by the platelets' surface, creating the shiny and sparkling effects that are typical of the pigmentEnlarge
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    Here a process known as color matching ensures that the vehicle doesn’t end up looking like a patchwork rug. Environmental compatibility is also a major consideration. Here the introduction of water-soluble paints with aqueous polyurethane resin and microgels has brought major progress. All of these basic materials, as well as the resins, are manufactured in-house by Bollig & Kemper.

    Even more properties in future


    In an industry in which it costs €100–150 million to set up a new paint shop, innovation is very much an evolutionary necessity. The latest advance is a reduction in the number of layers applied to a vehicle from four to three. 

    What next? Wilhelm Kemper, who is already preparing for the fourth generation of the family to take up the reins, sees a bright future for the company. “We will see paints with even more properties — paints that can generate electricity from sunlight, and paints that can switch color.” And even the fascinating prospect of vehicle bodies made of fiberglass reinforced plastic doesn’t worry him. “They will need a paint that protects them against UV,” he says.

    2013/2/18

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    Xirallic® — crystal effect pigments

     

    The appearance of a painted surface is chiefly determined by the base coat. Regardless of whether the latter goes on over a primer coat or is applied in a primerless process — a method used in some segments of the coatings industry — one strives to achieve the desired results with the minimum amount of material. The thickness of the base coat can vary according to the market segment involved. However, a number of segments, such as automobile finishing, have established a base coat thickness of 14 to 18 micrometers. Adding an intense sparkle is a popular way to provide the color with an extra dimension. Here, Xirallic® is the ideal choice. Xirallic® is special because it combines the tiny particles necessary for thin coats of paint with a sparkle intensity that is unmatched.

    Interference effects are achieved by using semitransparent or transparent materials with different refractive indexes layered on top of each other. Minuscule variations in the degree of thickness of an exactly calculated layer of titanium dioxide — between 0.04 (silver-white) and 0.16 micrometers (green) — produce a precisely calculated interference effect in the light reflected from the coating and thereby a specific color spectrum. This phenomenon can likewise be observed in a shimmering film of oil on a puddle of water or in the deep luster of mother of pearl. With Xirallic®, an aluminum oxide base is coated with a thin layer of titanium dioxide, adding an intense sparkle effect.

     
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