Thursday, 19 October 2017 22:07

The New Car Paint Lexus Spent 15 Years Creating

Written by Richard Aucock, Motoring Research

Lexus paint colour 01


Lexus has launched a new color called Structural Blue---after spending a staggering 15 years developing the paint technology behind it. 

However, painting cars with it is so complex, only two Structural Blue cars a day can be made.


The firm has been working for the past decade and a half with a specialist company in California to invent the new paint. VIAVI Solutions Inc. is an expert in thin-film optical coatings, and has helped Lexus take the Structural Blue color into production.

Originally shown as a concept, the first iteration of the color was made up of no fewer than 40 layers. The two companies reduced this down to seven layers, which are applied in a 12-step process that involves a mighty 20 individual quality inspections---hence the limited daily production volume out of Lexus’ Motomachi, Japan factory.

It’s launching on special edition LC Structural Blue editions.

A butterfly inspired it, says Lexus. The Morpho butterfly has, at least to the human eye, deep and shimmering blue wings, although they’re actually colorless---a lattice on the surface of the wings distorts light to make them appear blue.


Lexus paint colour butterfly


To replicate this, Lexus applies paint containing ultra-fine nano-structures in 15-micrometre layers. Normal metallic paint pigments reflect barely 50 percent of visible blue light. The ones in the new Structural Blue color reflect almost 100 percent. Each car carries 300 grams of paint pigment---within this, about 300 billion pigment flakes…

But if you’re thinking that, actually, it doesn’t look all that impressive in the images, rest assured: Lexus adds that “it is designed to work on the eye rather than on a camera lens.” We’ll thus have to take the firm’s word for it that its 15-year labor was not in vain.


Thank you Motoring Research for reprint permission.