A robotic solution that brings efficiency, flexibility and improved environmental performance to custom spray jobs on cars has been recognised with an award from IFR and IEEE.
ABB’s PixelPaint robotic non-overspray technology for the automotive industry has won this year’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Robotics & Automation (IERA) Award for Outstanding Achievements in Commercialising Innovative Robot and Automation Technology.
PixelPaint uses inkjet head technology to directly apply high resolution two-tone or individualised designs to a car body in a single pass, enabling manufacturers to meet the rising demand for customised paint jobs while eliminating overspray.
“With PixelPaint, 100 per cent of the paint can now be applied in half the time compared to the previous method used for custom paint jobs, with a much better finish quality,” said Joerg Reger, managing director of ABB Robotics Auto OEM Business Line. “For our customers, this provides the triple bonus of saving millions of dollars per year through reduced paint consumption, improved efficiency and improved environmental performance through reduced VOC and CO2 emissions, while meeting their customer needs.”
According to ABB, applying a two-tone or customised design onto bodywork has usually required a vehicle to be put through a painting line twice, once for the first layer and then, after the areas have been masked, again for the second colour. The company added that masking the bodywork has needed around 10 to 20 operators per shift, with two operators needed to de-mask after the second colour had been applied.
With 70 to 80 per cent of the paint being applied to the bodywork surface when sprayed, wastage is said to have been significant, increasing costs through recycling and purchasing additional paint.
Launched in 2020, the PixelPaint cell comprises a high DPI inkjet head, two IRB 5500 paint robots, a dosing control package, and RobotStudio programming software for two tone and decorative painting applications.
The ability to combine improved efficiency, flexibility and environmental performance was key to the jury’s decision to bestow the award – jointly sponsored by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE/RAS) and the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) – to PixelPaint.
“The jury is pleased to honour ABB’s PixelPaint technology, with the 17th IERA Award,” said jury chair Rob Ambrose. “The innovative solution for automated car painting combines more flexibility and customisation with reduced wasted paint for the wellness of the environment.”