Axalta Introduces World’s First Digital Paint-Mixing System to U.S.
The Axalta Irus Mix automates the paint-mixing process, saving body shops money in time, labor and materials.
Written by Abby Andrews, Autobody News
Published Nov. 2, 2023
Axalta Coating Systems announced its latest innovation, the Axalta Irus Mix, the first and only fully automated paint-mixing machine. This new technology completes the simple three-step Axalta Irus color management process of Scan, Match and now, Mix.
Axalta demonstrated the new machine at an event it hosted Oct. 30 at Celebrity Cars in Las Vegas, NV, showing how a painter can use the complete Irus system to scan a vehicle panel and have the right amount of matching paint ready to go in less than five minutes.
Initially launched in Europe earlier this year, the Irus Mix will be available in North America around the middle of 2024. Developed through a partnership with SANTINT, the Irus Mix works with Axalta’s premium base coat products, including Spies Hecker Permahyd Hi-TEC, Cromax Pro and Standox Standoblue.
Company executives touted the efficiency, labor optimization, waste reduction and sustainability benefits of the entire Irus system, including the Irus Mix, which translates a digital scan of a vehicle’s paint into a formula and then measures and mixes it---delivering a precise match with minimal material waste, all while freeing up a collision repair shop’s painter to complete more important duties that make money.
James Muse, vice president of sales for Axalta’s global refinish division, said the company “innovates with a purpose.” In this case, the purpose is to solve multiple issues in a body shop’s paint department, eliminating bottlenecks in production.
Dan Benton, Axalta’s color marketing manager, used a tablet equipped with Axalta Irus Scan to take a picture of the paint on a 2021 Toyota Tacoma painted in Lunar Rock, a five-component shade that blends light green and silver.
The photo was uploaded to Axalta Irus Match, software that digitally chooses the right shade from 4 million active color variants stored in the cloud.
“We are moving away from chips and the subjectivity of color,” Muse said.
Irus Match then sends the color to Irus Mix, which resembles a large vending machine, full of components in plastic bottles. The bottles, made of 50% recycled plastic, range from 100 mL to 1.5 L, depending on how often the components are used, reducing the amount of infrequently used and often expensive material a shop must keep in inventory.
Irus Mix displays the “recipe” for the color, then pulls each component separately, pours the correct amount using precise dosing lids, agitates it and adds it to a mixing cup. The machine also tracks how much material is in each bottle, and will not start a mix if there is not enough of a particular component.
While Muse talked, the machine automatically pulled and measured all five components, a process that could be viewed through the large window, then presented the finished paint---four minutes and 43 seconds after it received the color information from Irus Match.
Muse said the average painter would take about 10 minutes to manually mix the same paint. In an average shop that paints five cars a day, that works out to about 208 hours a year spent mixing paint.
"That's three-plus weeks of time that you're not paid for," Muse said. “Time is money in a body shop. A painter should be painting, not mixing.”
The Irus Mix is also very easy to use, Muse said, meaning a painter or technician does not need a lot of training or experience to operate it---an important point as the collision repair industry struggles to attract enough quality employees.
“This is the future,” Muse said.