Car maker develops bird fouling test

| Environmental Testing

New tests at Ford assess the resistance of painted surfaces to bird droppings

Ford is using artificial bird droppings to test the integrity of its paintwork when exposed to bird fouling

The new test developed by Ford uses laboratory-developed synthetic droppings that are so realistic they can accurately reflect the differing diets – and subsequent different acidity of droppings – of most of the birdlife in Europe.

Applied to test panels as a spray, sample pieces are aged at 40° C, 50° C and 60° C in an oven to replicate customer use in extreme heats, pushing the paint corrosion protection to its limits.

This accelerated paint life test is just one of the ordeals paint samples are put through. They also spray phosphoric acid mixed with soap detergent, and synthetic pollen on panels before aging them in thermal chambers at 60° C and 80° C for 30 minutes. The test guards against airborne particulates such as pollen and tree sap.

During the warmer season, the paint can soften and expand under intense sunlight. When it cools it contracts and any grime, including bird droppings, attaches itself to the surface. If left on the vehicle, it can leave a permanent impression that requires specialist treatment to remove.

By fine-tuning the pigments, resins and additives that go into making a car’s shiny protective paintwork, specialists can ensure the coating Ford applies to its vehicles has the optimum make-up to resist the impact of these types of pollutants, no matter what the weather.

Other tests for paint samples include being bombarded non-stop with ultraviolet light for up to 6,000 hours (250 days) in a light lab – simulating five years in the brightest place on earth – to evaluate outdoor weathering; getting frozen in sub-zero temperatures; being exposed to harsh winter road grime in a high humidity salt chamber and subjection to simulated fuel staining from vehicle service station over-fuelling.

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