Sports car manufacturer Lotus is automating its body painting facility at its British headquarters in Hethel. Lotus contracted Dürr to install an automated paint shop boasting a number of extremely efficient processes.
Dürr beat worldwide competition during the awarding process thanks to its extremely efficient technologies producing less waste with low environmental impact. The modernization includes an automated application line including a special paint supply and conveyor systems. The contract was awarded in 2019.
Currently all Lotus cars are painted manually, but for the future, Lotus will be embracing automation for the exterior painting with four EcoRP E133 painting robots. With their six axes and rail, these robots are flexible enough for a number of applications. When it came to the design of the new paint shop, the main priority for Lotus was extremely high process efficiency while maintaining the high quality of the current manual spraying process.
With the composite body panels coated with conductive primer, one pair of robots process the application of primer and clear coat in one mixed spraybooth while a second pair of robots apply the color coat in another booth. The robots not only paint, but can also open the body doors and hoods thanks to their modular design.
Economical and fast: special paint supply using pigging system
The high efficiency and high quality is not only achieved through the use of robots, but also through technologies with low material consumption.
All Lotus cars are built to order with Lotus Exclusive allowing customers to make their Lotus truly unique, with each vehicle carefully finished according to individual requirements including a choice of an almost infinite number of colors limitless on all of its model lines. Individualization including stripes and highlights will continue to be painted manually.
To be able to provide such a variety of colors in low quantities, EcoSupply P special paint supply systems will be installed. These units pump the various paints to the painting booth in hoses – with almost zero losses reducing paint waste. EcoSupply P also minimizes cleaning material consumption and color change times compared with conventional ring line systems.
Sixty percent less energy
EcoDry Rack also helps to increase efficiency. The multi-stage overspray filter system, which is extremely compact thanks to its permanently installed filter walls, offers all the advantages of dry separation. It needs neither water nor chemicals, which keeps running costs low and is kind to the environment.
Up to 95 percent of the supply air can be recycled as recirculated air using this technology, which reduces energy consumption in the paint booth by more than 60 percent compared with a classic wet scrubbing system. This has a positive effect on the CO2 emissions. EcoDry Rack is easy to use and service. Once the filters are saturated, they can be replaced during the production breaks or at weekends.
The new Lotus body painting facility is scheduled to be commissioned in 2021.
The "EcoSupply P" Piigging system's ensures a fast and economical special paint supply at Lotus.