Metalcolor is one of the few European coil coaters to have its own paint mixing unit. This allows us to offer to our customers an unlimited number of colours across our entire range of finishes. Our paint preparation or “mixing” unit thus undertakes the mixing and tinting of over 60% of the paint batches we use, while the rest comes from suppliers. In the current era where shortages and supply delays are widespread, our in-house paint mixing is a huge advantage. The system offers great autonomy and allows us to cover our needs to a large extent.
As early as 1993, Metalcolor had acquired its own mixing unit for its paints, making us a unique case in Europe at the time. Since then, we have continued to develop this service for our customers, constantly enriching our range of references and shades allowing us to offer an infinite number of variations.
We use roughly fifty components, which are applied during two stages. In the first, the “barrelling” stage, the various varnishes and pigments are added, after being weighed in proportions specified in a pre-established formula. The second phase, known as "tinting", is the adjustment of tint and viscosity using colorimetry software. The “mixing” department is equipped with a laboratory where paints are applied to aluminium samples and undergo a simulation of the process of the coating lines. This makes it possible to measure and correct the colorimetry, to ascertain various properties such as the thickness, gloss, reticulation and flexibility of the coating.
We also process paints received from suppliers. Although they are ready for use, they still undergo some priming: they are stirred then checked and their viscosity adjusted if need be, and in the case of certain references, the colour is verified before delivery to the coating line.
Whether they are made in-house or sourced from suppliers, the batches are delivered to the coating lines maximum 4 hours before the start of operations to guarantee the quality parameters of the wet paint.
In the "mixing" department, almost a full-time job equivalent is dedicated to preparing colour samples for our clients. "It's a demanding task, the formulation process is software-aided, but several adjustments are necessary, and they require all the experience and know-how of our staff members. It takes 30 to 90 minutes to make a colour sample, or even several hours in the case of metallic multi-layered coatings, for example. Last year, 900 references including 300 new shades have been presented to our customers," says David Feuvrier, Shop Floor Manager in the mixing department.
In 2020, our laboratory prepared some 500 tons of wet paint applied to over 2000 batches. 700 different shades were produced, including 150 new references. The latter were developed with the aid of our software dedicated to colour formulation. We also have unique software dedicated to the recycling of surpluses. "It enabled us to recover about 30 tonnes of leftover paint in 2020, which were then transformed into a different colour. This represents not just an economic gain but also a reduction of our environmental impact," says David Goutte, head of the laboratory.