Soul Red: Breathtakingly Beautiful
but Gruelingly Challenging
When the design team proposed soul red as the color for a new generation of cars, the engineers were captivated by its breathtaking beauty. Beauty doesn’t come easy, however.
Applying a concept car color to mass production models requires herculean efforts on the engineering side. Whereas a concept car color may be concocted with no regard for the rigors of practicality, a paint for street cars must be created with materials that are well suited for mass production and that can withstand the harsh conditions of real life.
Soul red has a unique mix of translucence and depth of color. To realize this mix, the engineering team devised a novel coating structure. A semi-transparent paint layer was coated on a reflecting layer comprised of regularly arrayed aluminum flakes. A clear layer that emphasizes translucence was coated on top of the paint layer. To reproduce the color intensity of soul red faithfully and keep the color perfectly universal on the whole of the body surface, the thickness of the coating on every part was meticulously controlled.
Also, TAKUMINURI, a cutting-edge robotic painting technology, was crucial to applying soul red to mass production cars. TAKUMINURI uses data obtained through simulation painting done by experienced human painters – such as the distribution of coating thickness ― to improve robotic painting. In light of the data, the painting process for each part was reformed and a new controlling system was developed.
Masahumi Shinoda, a veteran engineer with a 25-year career in car painting, summed up the challenge of creating soul red like this: “The accumulation of innovative technologies that Mazda has developed so far. Collaboration among the paint maker, production engineers, technology research engineers, body design engineers and designers. If either of these two had been lacking, it would have been impossible to apply soul red to mass production cars.”
In the Auto Color Awards 2013, an event organized by a Japanese industry group, soul red premium metallic won the Auto Color Designers’ Selection award in the exterior segment. This was the moment when the five-year struggle that brought the ultimate red to the street was rewarded with public recognition.
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