3-D Technology Makes F-150 Paint Better

Dirt Detection 2 II

Not long ago we reported about Ford using new 3-D technology in the meshing of ring and pinion gears as the rear-end axle gears are assembled in its Dearborn, Mich., assembly plant. Now Ford is expanding the use of high-speed 3-D cameras in the paint shop at many more plants.

In a recent press release (click here to download), Ford notes it is using this technology to scan for microscopically sized dirt particles in the paint shop; it could improve the final surface quality of every pickup truck that rolls off the line. The system scans each vehicle, capturing more than 3,100 images in a 15-second sweep of the vehicle, and then warns an assembly operator of any contamination. The scans are compared to a computer model, and the operator polishes and buffs out the imperfections. Ford says the system has dropped customer complaints relating to paint finish by 82 percent.

This new technology will be rolled out to other Ford car, crossover, SUV and truck plants this year. We expect Ford will find other uses for this optical software to help improve product quality.

To download the full press release, click here

Dirt Detection 1 II



I do have to say the paint in my 11 Ecoboost Supercrew FX-4 is perfect. That dark grey color looks great. I can only imagine how good it will be with this new technology. I hope it works out well for Ford.

Does putc just lurk on autoblog.com?
Seems I see almost every story there first.

I must say that the paint on fords over the long term seems to look a whole lot better than it does on toyotas. MEchanically, a much different story but I guess they gotta do something to get you to buy a new one.

My brother f150 have paint defect on the hood...wow they miss this one:)

Here is a better story on Ford

Nice! Just as impressive as their Toxedo Black paint with glass particles instead of metal flakes.

Ford continues to innovate. All others well... they copy cat Ford.
Watch all others starting to include a turbo a la EcoBoost.

Didn't I here something about this same thing already.

Story is from Ford's media site. Not autoblurp.

I don't know anyone that would complain about a flaw in the paint. Thankfully. Not even chicks. And for what? It's a truck.... Are you gonna use it or is a museum piece?

@MatthewJohn - my truck is two tone: sterling silver (dark grey) and ingot silver (silver). I agree that it is a nice colour but unfortunately the Sterling Silver is incredibly popular. My son and I counted 9 other Sterling silver SuperCrews to and from the library one day.

@Denver|||Mike - true, but if one is spending hard earned cash on a pickup, it should have a good paint job from the factory.

Mann vs Ford is a better Ford paint story.

@MaXx you're 100% correct

@Lou - An OEM should always strive for perfection, but any tiny imperfection that slips past QC would be fine with me. And everyone's money is "hard earned". Plus I'd rather not disturb the factory finish with a spot or panel re-shoot.

My new '04 STX only came with a tiny chip on the front edge of the hood, exposing the bare metal. It probably got it on the carrier or test drive and while I was expecting rust, it never happened. I learned years later it's an aluminum hood.

I've picked up quite a few more imperfections along the way, but it looks 'showroom' from 30'. It's like a bad omen to fix dings, minor dents and light scratches on a truck. Besides, I get enough chuckles from tradesmen at The Home Depot, for having such a sweet '04.

Lol at the guy whom thinks that ford is the only innovator.

@Denver|||Mike - true, for most - money is hard earned. Every new truck I've owned, I've always has a bit of anxiety until that first dent or scratch. After that, it's just a truck. I knew a guy that would give his new truck a quick kick to get it over with.
My father-in-law has a has an F150 of the vintage prior to yours. I can't recall what year and it's mint too. He had one mechanic offer to buy it off of him. He says he'll never sell it.

I just put out my troll pole and Gregory j was todays was todays big catch. See who I get next time.

Paint quality is a significant factor in buying a vehicle. Flaws can diminish the feel you have for a vehicle.

The Europeans and Japanese learnt this early on with paint, panel fit, and interior qualities, ie material, noises and fit and finish.

In Australia with the harsh sun paint quality is easily detected after a short period of time. Many GMH, Ford, and locally made Mitsubishis have had poor paint jobs until the past decade or so. Euro/Asian vehicles faired better.

I always check paint whenever I buy new.

Most pickups in the US are SUVs not trucks. So people who tend to buy them would also be looking at a finish on par with a car that they 'baby around'.

Remember you stated American pickups are, quote, 'SUVs with a balcony'.

I remember seeing new Cordobas and other Chrysler products in 1975 with bubbles and streaks in the paint. The underneath carriage parts had rust where metal would flake off and the interiors would have loose threads on the seats. I am happy that today most manufacturers do not have those problems, even Chrysler has drastically improved. I am glad to see Ford doing this and if the others adopt it then we can all thank Ford for leading the way. I have noticed the paint on my wife's new CRV is very well finished and the interior is much better than cars of the past. The paint jobs on today's vehicles are outstanding. Look at the paint jobs on the new Hyundais compared to what they were a decade or two ago, they are perfect.

@Jeff S
Most Asian manufacturers paint their vehicles with an 80 micron finish. I would say after looking at my mother's Focus and my brothers Soul, the Soul is better finished.

Secondary areas on the Ford are very poor, with corrosion becoming evident. The last time I saw the car it was less than 2 years old. The Focus is from Flint? Michigan. The Kia is imported from Korea.

Surface finishing is critical in any exposed product.

In the past decade the quality of US vehicles have improved markedly and I hope this 3D technology works well and improves the Fords.

@Big Al--Your mother's Focus compared to the late 70's and 80's cars is state of the art when it comes to fit and finish. You are correct that the Asian vehicle makers forced everyone to get better and we as the consumers are the beneficiaries. As much as vehicles cost today the consumer should expect better fit and finish. Our 2000 Taurus was a good car and the paint held up well, but the newer vehicles are even better. Of course my vehicles are garaged and they get waxed at least twice a year, but the quality of the newer vehicles is still noticeable. Kudos to Ford for using the 3D for ensuring that the finish on their exteriors is better.

PS. Al--This Samsung Chromebook has been excellent and is another example of a product getting better. Easy to use and quick to start. Kudos to Samsung.

@Big Al you are correct about the Asian manufacturers. When the 2011 Sonata was released not only the styling was beautiful but it had a paint finish on it that was better than anything I had ever seen on a mass produced car. Your mother's car has a much better finish on it than the cars of the 70's and 80's. I remember certain GM vehicles in the late 80's and early 90's having pealing paint. My wife's 2000 Taurus had a good finish but I keep my vehicles garaged and wax them at least twice a year. The finishes today are even better than my wife's Taurus.

PS--My Samsung Google Chromebook is really easy and quick to use. At $249 it is a very good buy. Computers are another example of products getting better.

Sorry about the double postings.

@BAF0 - Paint quality is the last thing any new car/truck/SUV buyer has to think about. What century is this and how bad is your paint quality in Oz? Our trucks wear many hats and end the need to have several cars when one vehicle does it all. But the paint quality doesn't drop, going from Lincoln to fleet F-550s and E-series vans.

Trucks are trucks and you don't have to sweat minor dents and other wear related or job site damage. Nor do those reduce resale value, unless you're talking Escalade EXTs. I don't really consider EXTs "Trucks", but those really are the official "SUVs with a Balcony™"

Trucks fill the role of the traditional sedan, coupe, 2-seater, Bronco/CJ-7, muscle car, luxury car, station wagon, minivan and more. Explain why you have a big issue with this. Are your trucks strictly used for work? I'm in my pickup 24/7 and go from work to play to anything goes. I don't feel I'm missing anything and what it can't do, I don't need.

I gotta say, after almost 3 years of hard life, dirt and mud build up, constant hauling in the rhino protected bed, lots of towing etc etc, and my 11 looks fantastic. Body integrity has been excellent thus far. Very few scratches and dings. The body is pretty tough on it. Even my 05 is still in excellent shape, and that truck is lifted and sees trails and mud quite frequently, yet has few scratches from branches scraping across it. Few, if any rock chips. I had an 03 Altima 3.5 Manual bought new in 03, traded it in last July for my 12 300 3.6. The Altima was an excellent and incredibly reliable beast, but the hood and fenders were speckled with rock chips. Hopefully my 300 does not get that. So far so good. American cars seem to have better paint than the Japanese cars. My friends 12 Honda Accord is also riddled with paint chips in its nose. Ashamed because it is a nice looking car with its black paint.

@West Coast Canadian - What you do or don't do with a truck is your call, but they all leave the factory the same. From what I've seen, actually factory flaws in the paint (that aren't caught/fixed before the sale) are rare to nonexistent. And have to be tiny and unnoticeable to make it past QC and "pre delivery inspection" at the dealer.

I'm just curious as to who would complain about a tiny paint imperfection and send it back to the dealer for a day. And it's something only you would know is there. Seems silly to me, but whatever. 1st world problems?

And I know I won't have any long term problems with the factory paint. With a dealer re-shoot, you never know.

@DenverMike yeah u r correct on that one. I work at a dealership with a bodyshop in back of my Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership. We get people in ALL THE TIME with complaints of paint defects. I always try to steer people away from having them repaired, because the dealer reshoot is NEVER as good as factory. Unless it is an obvious, blatant defect, or the paint is peeling or something to that regard, I always warn against such repaints. We are happy to do the work, do not get me wrong, but let me tell you I have seen slight teeny tiny defects get fixed, but it turns out to be a nightmare because either the metallic flake does not quite match, or there is overspray, or whatever the case is. We had a grey 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 come in with what looked like a hair under the paint. It was sooooo small and only the customer could see it. So we went thru the proceedings, got the repair done. After that, the truck had to be reshot 6 times due to other issues that arised from the dealer redo. What a nightmare. To this day, the customer is sooooo unhappy. The paint loks terrible and he regrets EVER getting it fixed.

Factory paint flaws have been close to perfect for years. As I stated above I saw some terrible paint jobs in the late 70's on cars and trucks. Bubbles in the paint, over spray and missed panels. That is another reason why the mid 70's to about the mid 80's was called the Malaise Era. GM at that point was about the best domestic made vehicle you could get, not that they didn't have their flaws as well. Even the 60's had far better built vehicles than the Malaise Era. Probably Ford is being more conscious of the paint quality than they need to, but that is a good thing and the technology exists now to check the paint jobs. There were also the Chevy trucks and vans from about 88 through the early 90's that had peeling paint. The paint was especially bad on the light blue and silver two tone paint jobs. My lawnmower repairman, who is retired GM had an 89 4x4 full size single cab Chevy in light blue and silver which he kept undercover. He had that truck for 5 years and GM repainted it twice. When he traded it for a new truck it only had 25k miles. One only needs to remember the 70's and 80's to appreciate how much better the cars and trucks are.

My father had a Roman Red 62 Chevy II 300 Sedan which he ordered new in Sept 1961 (one of the very first sold in Houston) and had it until October of 1973. That Chevy II had an enamel paint job on it. The paint on that car held up well and you could compound the paint without any worry about hurting the finish. That car also had one of the last generator's which never was replaced. Every once in a while you would have to lubricate it since it was not self lubricated. The matching red interior and the cloth headliner had significant wear. Today's interiors do not wear as bad as the older ones. My S-10 is going on 15 years old and it has little wear on the interior.

@ DlM
My mother bought her Focus in Atlantic City, NJ. It has one of the crappiest paint jobs I've seen on a motor vehicle since the 80s.

Most pickups aren't 'work' trucks. Is this just an exuse from the you, the UAW's mouthpiece so people accept substandard work?

How can an import have a better finish than a UAW made vehicle, should be your comment. Again DlM you are showing your colours.

Pickups would require a better paintjob. Look at any industrial, aviation equipment. This finish is durable. You would want a finish on a working vehicle to last. Especially if you knock it around.

Don't talk to me about surface finishing and/or corrosion. You haven't a clue.

@MatthewJohn aka DenverMike
Really, DenverMike you are so full of $hit. Can you even lie straight?

@Matthew John another DenverMike psuedonym.
DenverMike can you lie straight in bed? Wow, the lengths you go to. What a banana.

At the end of the day, DenverMike is right. Paint quality is not even in the top 15 things to worry about. If this 3-D tech helps improve that is just icing on the cake.

If anything will improve the process it will be the 3 wet paint process that Ford is expanding by 50% in 2013.

Poor BAF0... You can't stand it when people agree with me and don't share your asinine, anti American views. The topic is about tiny flaws in the paint (as rare as they may be), how to use technology to prevent them and should you bother having them fixed.

Catching microscopic particles, not easily or impossible to see with the human eye, is all the article covers. Not that the paint jobs are bad, in and of themselves.

I didn't say anyone should accept substandard paint, just because it's a truck, UAW or otherwise. Microscopic particles cause tiny blemishes, in my opinion, not worth losing sleep over, even if it's a show truck. But some will still complain and OEMs should always strive for 100% perfection/satisfaction. Some would say that's impossible with mass production, but this is a positive move towards that and all OEMs are free to employ this technology.

But you're the one that always tries to make it into UAW against whatever fight. And your anecdotal evidence isn't worth a $H!T.

May your vehicle decompose through oxidisation and become iron oxide.

Not important?

I really can't believe it. Appearance is everything in marketing and believe it or not paint has a significant impact on appearance of a vehicle, without considering the protection a good surface finish provides.

Let's stick with the topic. To some this degree of perfection in paint might not be as important, but let's give credit to Ford for this. There are many other things I might rank more important but then I have never seen the perfect vehicle yet, as I have never met the perfect person. I have reservations about the turbo motors and the My Ford systems which need more refinement. For now I will give Ford the benefit of doubt and remain optimistic that they will iron out some of the bugs in their new vehicles. Let's giving them kudos for using this technology.

@Jeff S
Ford need to use it on the Focus's, like I stated. I hope the F trucks are better.

The 3D technology should give a better and even application of paint, not thin in some areas and overly thick in others.

Also, a driver of this 3D technology will be the use of less paint without comprimising quality (we hope).

@Big AL--From what this article says Ford will eventually use it on all their products. What year is your mother's Focus? I am not trying to be pro Ford, but I do see a marked improvement on all the manufactures fit and finish on their vehicles.

@Jeff S

@Big Al--Not that old. Hopefully Ford has improved the paint jobs on Focuses. Does the car sit out in the elements? Does you mother have her car waxed or detailed regularly? My Chevy sits outside but it is waxed in the Fall and the Spring. I have always kept a coat of wax on all my vehicles.

@Jeff S
My biggest concern for her vehicle is the secondary areas in the trunk. Within 12 months surface rust is coming through. This would indicate the thickness of the paint is very thin. Thin enough to allow moisture to enter and reach the base metal.

I will have another look this Christmas when I go over. If it is bad enough I will either have to repair it myself or see if the warranty will cover a respray of the affected areas.

@ big al , my 2007 focus paint is very good, maybe she got a Monday car? dunno but any focus ive ever looked at was nice paint and for that matter pretty much any car in the last 10 years from any make has really nice paint imo

@Denver mike, I spent 50k plus on my 1 ton diesel truck and that paint better be perfect, being a pick up why would you lower your standards? that's crazy talk, when you're paying that kind of money everything should be high standards, I am the guy that would take the vehicle back and say fix the paint chip which is what happened back in 2005 when I bought my 2006 half ton, they fixed it and it looked great. I was happy

@Big Al--I would definitely try to get Ford to do something about the paint job on your mother's Focus. A two year old car should not be rusting like that.

Not that I'm trying to deflate Ford's ingenuity, but consider this: This technology is clearly intended to replace people. It's intended to further automate the vehicle production process. It's designed to save money.

I'm all for new technology, but I don't know that this technology will benefit the consumer...my guess is that this makes Ford more profitable, and that's about it.

After all, the human eye is incredibly capable. That's why the military still relies upon human eyes to guide missiles, why outputs from facial recognition technology are always reviewed by humans, etc.

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