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Anniversary: 20 years of waterborne basecoats at BASF Coatings AG

Würzburg/Münster, Germany. BASF Coatings AG is celebrating an important anniversary: in December 2006, the company will have been manufacturing waterborne basecoats at its Würzburg site for 20 years. In the laboratories there, BASF researchers developed the innovative waterborne paint system that proceeded to conquer the world. “The environmentally friendly waterborne basecoat technology is an important milestone in the history of automotive OEM coatings and for BASF Coatings as a whole,” says Dr. Thomas Krüger, Würzburg site manager.

The paint system developed at Würzburg passed the required tests with style and received the approval for use on the production lines of the Bochum Opel factory in December 1986. In the following years, it has been introduced in the production lines of almost all well-known automobile manufacturers. An important further development is the use of the so-called Integrated Process, which includes a new waterborne basecoat system that also fulfills the function of the primer. This innovative technology considerably shortens the car body coating process and thus saves time and money.

Waterborne basecoats of BASF Coatings

“In comparison with solventborne basecoats, most of the organic solvents content is replaced by water in the case of waterborne basecoats,” says Krüger, explaining the principle. The advantage of this coating system thus lies in considerably lower environmental pollution due to the reduction of solvent emissions and the fact that Health & Safety regulations can be complied with easier because combustible materials are no longer used. While water-based systems were used all over the world at a rate of 20% in 1997, the percentage has already risen to 35% today.

Waterborne basecoats are characterized not just through improved color stability, but also by good adhesion properties and an improved appearance. “They fulfill the legal conditions beyond the requirements and have helped reduce the amount of solvents used in Germany alone by 100,000 metric tons in the 20 years of their history,” says Krüger.

BASF Coatings produces waterborne basecoats for its customers not just in Würzburg. Large batches are manufactured at the Schwarzheide site, which started operations in 1993.

Würzburg waterborne basecoat factory

BASF Coatings has been operating its plant in Würzburg since 1969. Today about 260 employees work at the site. In the 20,000 square meter production area, innovative waterborne basecoats are developed and manufactured for customers in the automotive industry, with a special focus on metallic basecoats.

Stations in the history of the waterborne basecoats

Development and introduction of metallic basecoats in Würzburg
From 1986
Introduction and start of waterborne metallic basecoat production in Würzburg
First use of waterborne basecoats in production at Opel in Bochum and Volvo in Gothenburg
General Motors starts using waterborne basecoats in North America
Start-up of the new waterborne basecoat factory in Schwarzheide
Introduction of “Integrated Process” technology in line production at Rastatt
First use of waterborne basecoats in Japan (Honda and Nissan)
General Motors uses waterborne basecoats for the first time in China
Schwarzheide factory hits 100,000 metric tons mark in waterborne basecoat production
20 years of waterborne basecoat production in Würzburg

BASF : A major international player in coatings

BASF Coatings AG belongs to the global Coatings Division of the BASF Group. In 2005 the Coatings Division achieved world sales of about 2.2 billion euros. The Coatings Division develops, produces and markets a high-quality range of innovative automotive OEM coatings, automotive refinishes and industrial coatings as well as decorative paints, and also the processes needed to apply them. In this business, eco-efficient water-based, powder and high-solids coatings as well as radiation-curable systems play a special part. In Brazil, the company has been successful in the decorative paints market for years and holds the leading position. BASF has a major, global presence in the Coatings sector, with significant market positions in Europe, North America, South America and the Asia/Pacific region, for example with affiliates in Australia, China, India, Japan, and the Philippines. The internet address of BASF Coatings is

BASF Automotive Solutions. Performance Passion Success

BASF – The Chemical Company – is a leading-edge source of intelligent sustainable solutions to automotive manufacturers and their suppliers worldwide. With a full portfolio of technologies that include coatings, catalysts, engineering thermoplastics, polyurethanes, pigments and colorants, coolants and brake fluids for a broad array of exterior, interior, chassis and under-the-hood applications, BASF – The Chemical Company - develops and delivers the innovations that help the automotive industry improve the quality, appearance, safety, cost competitiveness, performance, comfort, fuel efficiency, sustainability. Website:


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