Technology Reflecting Real-World Experience
The process of finishing an auto body where the white bodies assembled in the welding line are coated and painted, is critical to the exterior quality of the completed car. It is a process that puts the final touches on the vehicle to ensure its value to the consumer.
Honda's coating/painting technology was cultivated from know-how acquired through the production of motorcycles, and then applied to automotive manufacturing. Yet, Honda actually began its effort to develop a dedicated coating/painting technology for automobiles in the 1960s, when the company was just getting started in the production of cars.
The Honda Sports S500, which went into production in 1963 at Hamamatsu Plant (currently Hamamatsu Factory), adopted the industry's first anionic electrodeposition undercoating material, which was actually a water-based material charged with a negative electric current.
Then, in 1967, Honda installed a dual-coating line at Suzuka Factory (where two coats, electrodeposition coat and overcoat, were applied), for the production of the TN360, its first mini truck. The next year Honda adopted innovative pearlescent and gold metallic paints for the Honda 1300, which of course was the company's first compact car. These were the earliest in a series of efforts to develop innovative coating technologies.
Honda introduced its NHP movement throughout the corporation in 1972. As part of that movement, Sayama Factory (currently Saitama Factory's Sayama Plant) implemented structural reforms based on the 4RPK (Four-Wheel Vehicle Production Kanto) project. Commensurate with the Civic's shift to production in 1973, the factory made the transition from being a production facility for mini automobiles to one for compact passenger cars. Along with that shift, Sayama Factory's Painting/Coating Department adopted the industry's first dual-coating, dual-bake (two coatings plus two cycles of baking/drying) process, which was based on electrostatic powder coating. In fact, this application technology for powder coating in automotive production earned the Technology Award from the Japan Coating Technology Association in 1976.
Suzuka Factory, on the other hand, introduced a water-based intermediate coating in 1974, moving toward a triple-coating process. As described above, though, Honda's technology for painting and coating evolved through a constant effort by engineers in the respective factories working on behalf of painting and coating operations. The specialists employed the techniques of highly qualified suppliers in order to refine their achievements. The unique technology created from such efforts was a combination of three different undertakings implemented at the Saitama, Sayama, and Suzuka factories, and these facilities competed among one another to hone their own expressions of that technology.