Axalta lauds refinisher’s blue-eyed boy
The colour blue is often associated with longevity, according to symbolism in traditional Chinese culture.
“Blue”, a word which may come from the Old High German word blao, meaning shimmering and lustrous, is one of the three primary colours of pigments in traditional colour theory – red, yellow, blue. But in the refinish industry it is far from basic.
This sense of endurance is borne out by the 70th Annual Global Automotive 2022 Color Popularity Report from Axalta, a leading global coatings company. The report reveals blue as the only chromatic colour in the top five new car colours since 2007 in Europe. In 2022, blue was the fourth most popular colour in Europe with an 11% share of new car sales, following grey (27%), black (22%) and white (21%).
So much diversity
Blue has the largest colour position of any refinish colour, with upwards of 20,000 different variations from pale baby blue to dark midnight blue, and everything in between. These thousands of hues underscore the breadth and complexity of the blue spectrum, which includes high chroma blues, coloured aluminium blues, and even coloured glassflake blues.
With all these varieties of blues on the road, bodyshops in the region will be seeing more chromatic repairs. However, blues, particularly dark blues, are not the easiest to repair. This is where Axalta’s cloud-based Digital Colour Management comes in, as Hannes Kloppers, Axalta Indirect Business Manager, South Africa, explains. “Bodyshops no longer have to rely on the human eye to match colours. Our Digital Colour Management technology enables bodyshops to handle the entire colour matching and retrieval process digitally and 100% wirelessly, something we brought to the industry first in 2019.”
Precision technology in the bodyshop
Refinishers take colour readings of a vehicle’s paintwork using Axalta’s latest digital spectrophotometer, the Acquire Color Compact, which wirelessly sends the readings to Axalta’s constantly-updated online global colour database. The Axalta colour lab works tirelessly to ensure the database is populated annually with around 20,000 global colour developments – including blues – so that refinishers simply scan, select the formula and mix the colour, creating perfect matches for any hue and effect. For most colours there is no need to compare them on-screen.
Kloppers says, “The days of colour chips, cables, PCs and checking colours on screen are gone. It really is as simple as scan, find and mix. Axalta’s Digital Colour Management is the pinnacle of digital services that empower bodyshops to be more accurate, more efficient and more profitable by reducing non-productive time and optimising bodyshop workflow.”
Today’s modern blue
Around 2200BC – about the same time as the Ancient Pyramids were built – the Egyptians successfully created what is considered to be the first synthetically produced colour pigment, Egyptian Blue. Today, blue is still going strong. Axalta announced its Global Automotive Color of the Year 2023 – Techno Blue. It is a whimsical, complex and ultramodern blue with hue-shifting effects that embodies the transition from the real to virtual world.
Kloppers concludes, “The colour blue has a deep, rich and impressive history. That it still maintains popularity today in our region as a new car colour is testament to its own longevity and to those who, in ancient times all the way through to Picasso, sought to find a way to work with and showcase these important, yet unusual and diverse pigments. At Axalta, as a global expert in colour, our role is to ensure that our bodyshops don’t have to struggle to repair any shade of blue.”