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Gloss Plastic Could Eliminate Auto Painting

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the kick-the-fender dept.

Technology 320

customs writes "There is a new plastic out from GE that covers plastic surfaces with a really good sheen. It's more resistant to scratches and random chemicals compared to conventional paint. It's actually a .5 mm polymer called Sollx; the Segway was the first semi-mass-produced product to use it, it has slender two tone fenders. Kinda cool. Auto painting is the industries largest manufacturing expense, and this could be what they're looking for...as soon as the price comes down."

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IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1)

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (621411) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250513)

Gloss Plastic Could Eliminate You!

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250552)

FUCK! That would totally suck. It's like, one day you're just sitting there on a bench in Moscow enjoying a coke or some shit, and this guy walks up with a big bucket of molten gloss plastic and dumps it right on you. You'd definitely be eliminated.

Damn, makes me never want to visit Soviet Russia. Thanks for the heads up!

WEE (3, Funny)

blindcoder (606653) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250520)

Finally I'll be able to crash into my buddies without having to pay for repainting my car each time I do so! :D

Re:WEE (1)

zapfie (560589) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250611)

Yeah, but you sure will have a hell of a lot of body work to pay for.

Re:WEE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250739)

Is it me or is Slashdot getting really lame. This story was in my local newspaper, not the city newspaper, but the little town thingy that you get for free like 2 weeks ago.

I've noticed over the last six months that the news here is terribly dated by the time it gets to the top...

Question for you all... (3, Interesting)

BgJonson79 (129962) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250521)

Does using painted sheet metal offer any kind of added structural strength to the car? Or is it so little that a strong frame with a polymer outside would do as well in a crash?

Re:Question for you all... (2, Informative)

Bugaboo (266024) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250565)

Considering that a current metal car door can be dented by a slow-moving baseball, no. The impact of a crash is absorbed by the frame, not the metal panelling.

Re:Question for you all... (3, Informative)

sczimme (603413) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250616)


You could ask Saturn [saturn.com] . They have building cars that way for ~10 years.

Re:I was hoping they would wait. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250641)

Corvettes have had fiberglass bodies since the early seventies.

Re:I was hoping they would wait. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250843)

One of the many reasons not to be in or near a Corvette when it crashes.

Re:Question for you all... (1)

bookroach (607259) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250666)

A stressed metal skin does add to the rigity of a car. The problem with the plasitic of fiberglass skins is they just sit on the frame adding weight without adding to the rigity of the car.

Re:Question for you all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250711)

You don't want your car to be rigid. That's why cars have crumple zones.

for unibody based vehicles, it adds strength (3, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250811)

Most every part in the car contributes to the structural integrity of the vehicle.

Metal door skins and fenders are part of this overall structure. Even the windshield is part of the equation.

Of course if you switched to plastic ( as Saturn has done or the old fieros for example ) then you design around that...

Saw on TV commercials for this very thing recently, but they were touting lexan based panels..

You can try this experiment (2, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250814)

Take a sheet of waxed paper. Grease it up with petroleum jelly. Now spray paint it. Do a good job, adding several coats.

You'll now find that you can simply peel the paint film from the paper backing. You will also now find that paint has no structural integrity whatsoever.

The primary function of painting metal is to prevent oxidation. Rust. It's secondary function is the purely cosmetic one of letting you change the color of the object. Note that the DeLoren, made of stainless steel, was not even available stock with paint on it.

KFG

Old News (3, Informative)

mgrant (96571) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250522)

Haven't you seen the TV commercial with the out-of-work auto painting robots playing cards? It's been airing for weeks.

Re:Old News (1)

erasmus_ (119185) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250800)

Although I know that commercials are universally recognized as the #1 way to learn about advancements in technology, you really should give the article submitter some slack for attempting to supplement slick marketing with a (gasp) factual article.

Re:Old News (3, Funny)

The Dobber (576407) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250810)


On the subject of commercials, how will this effect that sales of "The Ding King"?

Will this be the end of Billy Mays?

Modding (2, Funny)

levik (52444) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250527)

But the main question is, how soon can I get a souped up tower case "painted" with the stuff?

Would look cool with a window and neon lights.

Thanks, But I'll keep my paint job (4, Insightful)

diablobynight (646304) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250533)

What are the affects of the sun on this plastic. Because of the construction of most polymers, ultravolet radiation ussually has terrible affects on them. And how do you wax a piece of plastic? Will the whole world suddenly be driving Saturns?

Explained in the article (5, Interesting)

Codex The Sloth (93427) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250560)

At the bottom of the article, it states that the coating doesn't fade:

It never fades. Sunlight's ultraviolet rays trigger a chemical reaction in the Sollx film, forming a protective outer coating that won't decay.

I'd be more concerned about scratches -- how do I touchup a film?

Re:Explained in the article (3, Funny)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250593)

with more film!!

Re:Explained in the article (2, Funny)

Codex The Sloth (93427) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250669)

with more film!!

Ahhh, touché!

Re:Explained in the article (1, Insightful)

diablobynight (646304) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250596)

wait I have seen this film used on a table I purchased for outside my home, the film starts to glaze over after a year, and makes looking through it, like looking through a smudged piece of glass, after I see a car five years after this stuff has been used, then, I'll consider it. And yes, I saw this comercial a while ago, slash dot will post anything as news.

Re:Explained in the article (2, Interesting)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250671)

why are you going to be loking through your fender or hood?

must have misworded myself (1)

diablobynight (646304) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250702)

When you look at a paintjob on the hood of your transam, like mine, My black paint job, is clear to the look, like looking in a mirror, it reflects the clouds and they roll across my hood as I drive, now imagine if you waxed your car and didn't take the wax off. That is what this film would look like on your car. On a good paintjob you actually do look "through" at least two layers of clear coat, this gives the paint its depth, its shine, I don't want this to go away is all. Beautiful cars are my passion.

Re:Explained in the article (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250771)

Might I point out that paint is a film?

KFG

And most paints are polymer based... (1)

siskbc (598067) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250791)

...especially the durable ones.

Re:Thanks, But I'll keep my paint job (1)

tekunokurato (531385) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250685)

It never fades. Sunlight's ultraviolet rays trigger a chemical reaction in the Sollx film, forming a protective outer coating that won't decay. As you can see from reading the article, it "never" fades. Should be fairly durable.

Re:Thanks, But I'll keep my paint job (1)

dhovis (303725) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250718)

I hate to tell you this, but paint is basically a brush on plastic coating these days.

how do you wax a piece of plastic? (4, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250724)

Well, not to belabor an obvious point, but you wax plastic with. . . wax. Just as you do paint, wooden furniture, unpainted metal, every kind of flooring material you can think of (including plastics) and a host of other products and materials.

And for the same reasons. It adds a sacrificial layer that erodes instead of the base material. Prevents oxidation.Provides a smoother surface (racing cars are waxed for this reason, the aero drag of a waxed car is measurably lower than an unwaxed one), and as result, entirely coincidentally, gives a glossy sheen that some people find attractive.

People already wax plastic all the time. Hell, I wax my Lexan R/C car bodies. Makes 'em look great.

KFG

computer cases! (2, Funny)

mikeee (137160) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250540)

The real question, of course, is when this will be available for PC cases.

cool, but (1)

Swe3tDave (246955) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250555)

Well Its nice, but i think its just another way for them to make more money..

Re:cool, but (1)

jackalope (99754) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250740)

Of course it's a way for them to make more money. That's what businesses do. What's wrong with making money if your providing a product or service that people willingly pay for.

CDs? (3, Interesting)

ergonal (609484) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250556)

I know nothing about CDs or plastic, so correct me if I'm way off base, but "resistant to scratches" sounds like it'd be good for CDs/DVDs?..

Re:CDs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250577)

It would affect the angle of the laser, they'd have to reconfigure CD-Roms to accomodate.

Re:CDs? (1)

headchimp (524692) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250763)

If it were to come out on CD's you can bet a boat load of AOL disks will be the first to use them stuff!

awsome!!! (2, Interesting)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250567)

add this to the Ideas tha GM has for future fuel cell cars design and it looks like fuel cell cars might be cheaper than cars today!!!

Re:awsome!!! (1)

diablobynight (646304) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250719)

I don't think you really want fuel cells, have you seen the cost to environment of disposing of fuel cells, they're clean running while in the cars, I completely admit, but when you have to get a new one, or you dispose of the car, the inside of a fuel cell is a nightmare to the environment.

Re:awsome!!! (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250853)

umm...so? clean ways to dispose can be created...the beifits to the environment of fuel cells greatly outweigh the costs.

Re:awsome!!! (1)

hplasm (576983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250769)

Yes, but not the price the buyer pays..

Materials science (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250571)

Has given us Teflon, Kevlar, Lexan and host of other trademarked (but quality) materials. The impact of this tech tends to be below the radar of the average person, but is vastly important in the cost and quality of manufactured goods. The use of other materials such as titanium, aluminum and magnesium in objects traditionally made from steel or die-cast alloy has given us lighter and stronger engines, laptops and spacecraft not to mention medical devices.

Re:Materials science (4, Insightful)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250797)

Has given us Teflon, Kevlar, Lexan ....The impact of this tech tends to be below the radar of the average person

No kidding.. my kids will probably never know what trying to clean a non-teflon coated pot is like.

I don't know what Lexan is, but I work for Valeo (Fitness Gloves/Belts, and Industrial Safety), and we use Kevlar threads in some of our Material Handling gloves to give them longer life.. Things just don't fall apart as much as they used to. I just hope my kids don't grow up thinking this stuff was invented in a garage, and everyone needs free access immediately. Some companies spend millions on this research, and they deserve to make their money back - and then some. Only after a reasonable amount of time should it become public domain.

Not if you're Amish (2, Interesting)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250837)

I don't mean to be a smart aleck -- well, maybe a little -- but do want to mention that the ever-increasing complexity of our lives is often good but not always necessary. If I could, I would like to get rid of my car altogether -- I'm no Luddite, but I think a lot of our technological improvements are aimed at correcting the problems introduced by our other technological improvement and distract us from fundamental goals. For example, we have for years been stalled with inefficient and polluting engines whose lifespan has been increased by ingenious inventions of emission control, electronic ignition, and so on, rather than inventing anew with fuel cells and the like (which are fundamentally not a new technology).

With respect to the improvement of paint, it is a wonderful idea that if successful would avoid a lot of waste in paint's first mission, preserving the vulnerable material underneath. But why don't we find ways to get rid of the sheet metal altogether? Saturn is the only one to have taken it really seriously, and I imagine part of that was the advantage of starting as a new company (yes, as a spinoff of a very old one, but you know what I mean -- UAW didn't even hold their new plant to the standard rules, and that was revolutionary!). They haven't beat the problems, but at least they've tried.

Here's a analogy I heard from a professor: Back in the days of J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI used to hold up every year a graph of the steady increase in their interdiction of interstate stolen cars. Problem was, interstate theft was increasing even faster. Then Detroit went to ignition steering wheel locks, eliminating the simple way to steal a car by hot wiring. The rate of theft plummeted. Sometimes changing something fundamental is more efficient that layering on additional layer of protection. (I hope the analogy held, but you get the idea.)

Nice, but expensive (2, Insightful)

Cappy Red (576737) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250580)

Metal dents, and when plastic doesn't bounce, it cracks. Even when the price comes down, it's still going to be fun to replace an entire section of the car for a crack.

I thought it said GROSS plastic, (2, Funny)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250583)

like some sort of combination fake-vomit/sex toy device. THAT would be gross plastic. Not much protection, though. :)

Don't hold your breath.. (4, Informative)

Xerithane (13482) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250584)

Regardless what the submitter says, the article says that car manufacturers aren't looking at it because plastic is 3x more expensive than galvanized steal.

When plastic comes down in price, then it will be here. The thing that I don't like about this is it seems that it has to be in place during the molding process. This would mean that if you were to ever scratch it, or something along those lines, you'd have to replace the entire piece. Unless they developed a patch kit for it, which seems like the patch would be weaker than the rest of the area because it wasn't present in the mold...

Of course, a plastic fender with this on it would probably be cheap because they have already reduced the cost of plastic below that of steal. The thermochromatic aspect of it would be cool though, but I'd prefer it to be uniform. I wouldn't want the rest of the car to be black and my hood to be red... that would just look weird.

Re:Don't hold your breath.. (1)

worst_name_ever (633374) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250816)

This would mean that if you were to ever scratch it, or something along those lines, you'd have to replace the entire piece.

I take it you've never had a small dent in a steel car body panel - helloooooo, expensive panel replacement!

5 finger discount? (2, Funny)

ryman (518071) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250848)

reduced the cost of plastic below that of steal

Can you really reduce anything below the cost of steal? ;)

good (1)

greechneb (574646) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250588)

My father-in-law works for a large plastics company, maybe this means his stock will go up - Maybe he'll pass some along for my wife and I.

I hope that doesn't sound too greedy, does it?

I can dream, its not like my own stock options in my own company are going up...

Tips from the Grammar Nazi (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250805)

My father-in-law works for a large plastics company, maybe this means his stock will go up
This is a run-on sentence. Replace the comma with a semicolon or a period.

-
Replace with a period.

Maybe he'll pass some along for my wife and I.
Should read "for my wife and me." You wouldn't say "Maybe he'll pass some along for I" would you?

I hope that doesn't sound too greedy, does it?
Another run-on sentence. Replace the comma with a period. Alternatively, you could rephrase to "That doesn't sound too greedy, does it?"

I can dream, its not like my own stock options in my own company are going up...
Again, this is a run-on sentence. Replace the comma with a period or semicolon. Since you seem to misuse commas very frequently, allow me to refresh your memory of 4th grade English class. A comma is used to join a dependent clause to an independent clause. To join multiple indepdendent clauses, use a semicolon or seperate them into multiple sentences with a period.

Thank you for your attention to this important announcement.

How well will it stick in practice? (5, Informative)

chrysrobyn (106763) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250589)

I got out of graduate school in 1999 and found myself in the market for a new car. I didn't shop around, I thought I knew what I wanted -- a new 2000 Saturn SC2, black. I found that dream car sitting on the lot, and bought it (well, a bank helped me).

So, here I am, 4 years later, the not-so-proud owner of a blackberry (purple in bright sunlight, black at night) Saturn, having learned so much about the downfalls of plastic. I'll never buy another Saturn. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have bought a Saturn in the first place. The sales pitch says this: when you get into an accident, plastic body panels are much easier to replace than metal ones. They don't say that every little ding and scrape you get (ever park next to an SUV that doesn't have enough repsect for drivers of smaller cars that they open their doors until they hit the next car over? Ever find a shopping cart resting against your car?) will leave you with a white mark. In a white car, that may not be bad, but when this car is all newly washed and shiney, it's got ugly white scratches on the sides and rear fender. For some reason, metal cars don't seem to have this problem as much.

Gloss plastic. In practice, does this mean that it'll stick as well as paint does to my plastic Saturn? Or will it have the staying power of paint on metal? I don't care about the press articles on it, I want to know what the field tests say in the hands of real people.

Re:How well will it stick in practice? (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250698)

well you can assume that no one would want this if it was no better than the plastics used today.

Re:How well will it stick in practice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250720)

I've got a 1994 Saturn, Gold and it looks great. The color probably faded a bit, but then again, a friend of mine has a 1994 ford hatchback with all kinds of rust... yes, his paint hasn't faded but the metal certainly did. ;)

Oxidation is fun (3, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250830)

In a white car, that may not be bad, but when this car is all newly washed and shiney, it's got ugly white scratches on the sides and rear fender. For some reason, metal cars don't seem to have this problem as much.

No metal cars just rust instead. Much better...

There's a drawback to any material. Plastic scrapes , steel rusts, aluminum corrodes, etc. Plastic is no exception. The "dent resistant" panels work but you can't hammer them either. They're durable, not indestructible. And it's easy enough to touch them up.

I drive a Saturn and it's a fine vehicle. (1993 SC2) Fun to drive (for its price), good fuel mileage, low insurance, very reliable and it isn't offensive to the eyes either. I don't have the problems with the paint the previous poster described either. When washed it looks pretty good for a car with 120,000 miles on it. I expect it to last me another 60-80,000 miles too. Not much more you can ask for really.

Gloss plastic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250599)

Does anybody know if NetBSD has been ported to this yet?

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250601)

Resistant to "random" chemicals, eh? Sounds nice, but what about chemicals that the highway department uses?

News for nerds.. (0)

_mythdraug_ (27158) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250613)

Stuff that matters. News you've already seen for months in TV commercials.

Re:News for nerds.. (2, Funny)

_mythdraug_ (27158) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250632)

Oh wait.. Nerds don't watch commecials. The just hit the skip button.

Segway? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250614)

Then this should have been submitted under the "useless waste of VC by high profile scam artist" department.

Durability? (2, Insightful)

duncan7 (247274) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250620)

Sure, it's scratch-resistant, which would be pretty handy, given the fact that the width of the average parking space hasn't kept pace with the expanding girth of the average car. Seems like my car picks up a ding a day.

Wonder how it holds up to sunlight, though. There are plenty of scalded-looking cars driving around here in Georgia, and many more further south and west. Somehow, my sense is that combination of plastic + UV would be an issue.

What about bodywork? Can it be done? Beyond their dent-resistance threshold, do the panels deform or fail? (Didn't Audi have to set up its own network of trusted body shops before the introduction of the latest aluminum-bodied A6, then offer free flatbed service to new owners, b/c typical body shops didn't have the right equipment and expertise?)

Re:Durability? (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250854)

(Didn't Audi have to set up its own network of trusted body shops before the introduction of the latest aluminum-bodied A6, then offer free flatbed service to new owners, b/c typical body shops didn't have the right equipment and expertise?)

Yes, they did have to do set up a special network...and those cars all have to be flat-bedded in to them since all of their care are AWD. Since the aluminum body an the A6 and A8 series are space frame designs, collision repairs are far more expensive than conventional cars are. A minor accident may land your car in a frame shop (expensive repair) to get straightened out and your car may still never drive right again.

--Turkey

Thermocromic fun (2, Interesting)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250625)

If you had tiny temperature controls on the interior surface of the car, you could change the color of the car at the flick of the switch.

humm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250627)

How about heat resistance.. or what happens if someone key's the "plastic".. how repairable is it..

I'll stick with paint.. it's easy to fix, and comes in a wild variety of colours..

plus.. forget plastic coated steel.. lets just get on with using PET body panels.. 100% recyclable and lighter than steel.. rust resistant too..

Repair Bills (3, Insightful)

awitod (453754) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250631)

So, it is more resistant to minor damage. But if it's a film applied to the whole part, what happens if you do damage it?

The nice thing about paint is that you can patch a small area. This sounds like you'd have to replace the entire damaged part.

If so, it has the potential to slightly decrease the original price and really increase the maintenance and repair costs.

I'm not sure that constitutes an improvement.

Transparent Aluminum (5, Funny)

MongooseCN (139203) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250633)

I still want transparent aluminum for my truck. Then I could carry my pet whale around.

Re:Transparent Aluminum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250817)

Nice. Thanks for the comment. This makes my day.

Correct me if im wrong (4, Insightful)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250634)

But dosent "scratch resistant" mean "Incredibly hard to fix once it has been scratched"?

Costs... (1)

CharlieO (572028) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250637)

Auto painting is the industries largest manufacturing expense, and this could be what they're looking for...as soon as the price comes down

Sure - as soon as the cost comes down!

The biggest cost in solar power is the cost of collectors, so new material X could be what they're looking for...as soon as the price comes down.

The biggest cost in overclocking is the cost of decent coolers, so liquid nitrogen cooling could be what they're looking for...as soon as the price comes down.

The biggest cost in electric vehicles is the fancy batteries , so fuel cells could be what they're looking for...as soon as the price comes down.

Is it me?

Saw this in the commercial (1)

GamezCore.com (631162) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250640)

There is a commercial right now put out by GE explaining this new technology, and at first I was pretty excited by it.

But then practicality took over, as it always does, and I began to think about what would happen from even just a slow speed crash. This thing seems to be mainly a one piece mold, and I don't look forward to the costs associated with repair.

The most exciting part of this article... (2, Funny)

PepperedApple (645980) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250647)

is knowing that I can get a segway in shiny bright purple.

More info on Smart Cars (4, Interesting)

Markee (72201) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250651)


The article mentions a car that is already available which has full plastic parts. More info can be found at the Smart website [smart.com] . I drive one of these, and I have bumped into obstacles while parking several times. Unlike a metal body, the plastic panel just springs back into shape after a bump. With a metal body, it would have been damaged visibly.

Other Smart drivers reported that after a crash, the car had no visible damge while the invisible parts beneath the body panels had been damaged severely, but the robust body panel had been hiding the damage.

I can really recommend these cars. They are the ultimate opposite to an SUV. 2.49 m long (7.5 feet!), 695 kg gross weight, can turn on a dime... wonderful.

Re:More info on Smart Cars (1)

vrt3 (62368) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250713)

I drive one of these, and I have bumped into obstacles while parking several times.

Why would you do a thing like that?

Not necessarily a good idea (3, Interesting)

phorm (591458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250722)

Would you really want a car that "hides the damage" though. I mean, it would be fine for minor dents, etc... but in the case of major damage it could be a safety risk. I remember last time I was in an accident (rear-ended), the insurance company paid for repairs, but I found a lot of hidden problems afterwords that I'm sure were related to the accident but not overly visible, thus not fixed. One of these included damage the metal brackets linking the bumper and tow-bars onto the frame of the car... which resulted in my bumper coming partly off next time I hooked up something to tow, not good.

Do you really want a bunch of damaged metal and loose welds hiding under a "seemingly" clean plastic coating?

Can I get that car in a color besides ugly? (1)

diablobynight (646304) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250823)

I have never seen one of these on the road, and oh boy I am happy. What's it's zero to sixty, and why is it ugly? I took my plastics course in college my junior year, and if I remember something about plastic as aposed to steal, when it's cold out, your screwed. The deformation curve changes drastically with temperatures, up in michigan where I live you could take a rock to the hood and suddenly not have one anymore. Viva la Steel

Well (2, Interesting)

Marvel Man (593480) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250661)

What occurs if you want to change the color of your car. Apparently paining it would be a sin if this material is supposed to replace paint. So that means you need to have the entire plastic surface removed and a new one put on?

Re:Well (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250759)

There are dyes available now for vinyl and plastics. I've used them myself. They penetrate the plastic and literally dye it. All the little bumps and raised lettering and whatnot stays, it doesnt put a color coat on top.

I'd imagine similarly formulated dyes could be used to recolor your car. Should be much cheaper than a conventional strip/sand/prime/sand/paintx2/sand/clearcoatc6/san d/polish job you'd have to go for now. All you need to do is make sure the surface is clean and spray it.

North American Consumerism? (1)

coke_dite (643074) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250662)

What does this say about us? "We could look better than plastic ... but right now we have to look like plastic."

Re:North American Consumerism? (1)

hether (101201) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250684)

It doesn't say that. It says

"We could look better than paint. But right now, we have to look like paint."

Hypercolor Cars (1)

hether (101201) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250665)

...theoretically capable of "thermochromic" effects that change the color with the temperature...

Reminds me of the old hypercolor shirts in approximately the early 90s that changed color when you wore them. I could see this feature appealing to a younger generation.

how insightful? (3, Funny)

mog (22706) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250670)

So basically, it will be cheap enough to be wonderful as soon as it's not so expensive. Hrrmmm...

Molting? (2, Funny)

DaveOf9thKey (599178) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250672)

GE Plastics claims that the material is also theoretically capable of "thermochromic" effects that change the color with the temperature -- imagine your Lexus molting from red to black as you head from the desert to the mountains.

Uh, doesn't molting mean shedding skin or other outer coating? I can't think of one Lexus owner who wants to imagine their car molting. Giant strips of Lexus skin all over the road! Ewwwwwww!!!

Re:Molting? (2, Funny)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250785)

Of course they meant morphing. Apparantly no "journalists" (read PR drones) proofread their copy these days. Here I thought it was just a slashdot phenomenon.

Oh boy! (3, Funny)

Edball (611096) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250673)

"The fenders are coated with a 0.5-millimeter polymer layer called Sollx, a new chemical "film" developed by General Electric (GE) that covers plastic surfaces like Saran Wrap."

Neat! Now i can complement my bad tint job with an equally bubbled paint job.. Yay!

Too bad its from GE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250687)

Good idea. Too bad GE did it. It will probably be killed if it doesn't make money in 2 years, then where will the previous buyers be? Or in GE fashion it will develop some other quality features.

What about the environment? (2, Insightful)

arnonym (582577) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250689)

"Classic" painting uses a lot of nasty chemicals, but is the production of this new plastic in any way safer?

Possibly Still Economical (3, Interesting)

pjdoland (99640) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250691)

Even though the plastic is 3 times more expensive than galvanized metal, it could still be more economical in the long run. A plastic body could result in a lighter car with better gas mileage (that's cheaper to run).

But I'd also worry about the possibility of a lighter car being less safe.

Dr. Phil Is My Cousin (0, Flamebait)

Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250743)

Oh don't worry about that; you're a nerd and therefore a bit fat overweight pig. When you're sitting in a lightweight car sans galvanized metal, the total weight is equal to that of a normal sized person sitting in a car with galvanized metal.

So in that respect, fat people are safe to purchase these cars. And your worries about the car being too light are a bit far-fetched. Sure, other "lite" cars such as Jeeps and those old Samurai pieces of shit were likely to roll but that had more to do with the fact that they were poorly designed and too tall than the weight of the vehicle. As long as you buy a normal compact car that has a low center of gravity, the difference between galvanized metal and plastic will only result in, as Martha Stewart says while I'm pumping her in the asshole, 'good things'.

Now, go do the right thing!

The strength of the body doesn't matter.... (1)

Mike Rucker (639143) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250784)

It is the frame and how it crumples that protects you in a crash.

Re:Possibly Still Economical (0)

m1chael (636773) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250788)

but the manufacturers dont care about those costs (that much) while the car is still on the production line.

Lighter equals Safer? (2, Insightful)

SwedishChef (69313) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250793)

I suppose it depends upon the vantage point of the people involved in a collision. Which would you rather be hit by: a Ford Explorer or a Honda CRZ?

There are also issues of a smaller car being more maneuverable. My wife once avoided a serious accident by being able to swerve her VW Rabbit very quickly to safely pass a camper shell that blew off from the vehicle in front of her on the freeway.

While larger and heavier vehicles absorb collision stress better than those of less mass, it's likely that a larger proportion of lighter vehicles on the road could reduce injuries by simply reducing the collision loads.

Someone please explain this... (1)

silvaran (214334) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250716)

It never fades. Sunlight's ultraviolet rays trigger a chemical reaction in the Sollx film, forming a protective outer coating that won't decay.

So sunlight actually causes a reaction in the paint itself? They claim it won't decay, but still... I'd be a little uneasy about anything that actually reacts chemically to sunlight (including the paint on most cars). I'd prefer something that's inherently resistant, without the need for a chemical reaction. So does this reaction break down after awhile, only to be reactivated again the next time it's exposed to sunlight?

Safety Implications? (1)

Whispers_in_the_dark (560817) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250729)

As a consumer, would there be any safety considerations during collision with using plastic instead of steel for body panels? I would assume that steel would absorb some limited amount of energy in the process of deformation. Would plastic do as well in these cases or are the energies too big for it to matter anyway?

Just curious...

Why don't they... (2, Insightful)

nyc_paladin (534862) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250733)

"We could look better than paint. But right now, we have to look like paint."

If they could make it better than paint then why don't they? If they can make a better product, save cost and make it look better it would give them more of an edge. Especially against an industry that has been part of auto making since the beginning. The more advantages the better.

Price comes down? (1)

The1Genius (58749) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250775)

Volume drives down price.

It would likely be the buy-in of an auto manufacturer that puts the cost of this stuff through the floor!

Impending IT Worker Shortage (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250790)

sorry if this is offtopic but it's got to be said. The high-tech lobby continues to clamor about "Worker Shortages". To hear such statements in 2003 is disturbing. Are our representatives actually listening to them? I hope not. The dire employment outlook in the United States should be self-evident. Especially in the tech sector. To not acknowledge this high unemployment would be an indicator of some profound failure in our government. Are the wings of our government folding up and breaking apart like the shuttle's? Is our government able to make sound decisions anymore?

According to this: [h1b.info]

In October 2003, the H-1B visa cap will automatically return to 65,000 annually, but the high-tech industry is already lobbying for more H-1B visas. Right now, groups such as the Information Technology Association of America
(ITAA) are circulating tails of an impending worker shortage if the current 195,000 visa cap isn't maintained. See stories in: CIO Magazine and Information Week.


Looks like a real life Worm-Toungue. After seeing things like this, there is no longer any doubt in my mind about the existence of real evil in this world. .

Where are the UNIONS?!? (0, Offtopic)

Kopretinka (97408) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250809)

So now glossy plastic robots will paint cars and take jobs away from the people?!? We must fight this abomination!!!

Anyhow, nice metallic cars could also eliminate auto painting. Who needs a painted car anyway? 8-)

one... (0)

m1chael (636773) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250815)

of the biggest costs once the car is bought is getting small dings etc repaired. would plastic make repairs like this cheaper and will this new coating be cheaper to paint on when your car door is keyed?

Nice technology (1)

epepke (462220) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250820)

But it wouldn't really be replacing paint, as the automobile industry has been using powder [powdercoating.org]

for about a decade.

Environmental dangers (1)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 11 years ago | (#5250835)

how safe is this plastic for the environment? is it recyclable?

In Soviet Russia (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5250842)

Cars paint plastic on you!
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