MINI Debuts Innovative Paint System at Oxford

BMW Group has introduced an innovative paint technology at its MINI plant in Oxford. Known as IPP (Integrated Paint Process), this highly efficient system is set to have a long-term impact on energy savings and emission reductions in the painting of body shells. It also wholly meets BMW Group’s high quality standards for surfaces. The introduction of IPP is a key factor in the expansion of Plant Oxford’s production capacity to a mid-term volume of up to 240,000 units.

Compared with previous technology, the Integral Paint Process completely eliminates the primer coat application and oven stage. The primer function is now transferred to one of two newly developed base coat layers. During this “wet on wet” application of the two layers, the first layer integrates all the functions and qualities of the primer-surfacer while the second base coat covers the optical attributes such as colour, effect and depth. A clear coat is applied on top of the base coat, as before. In this way the new IPP system achieves the same high standards as conventional paint processes in terms of optical and protective qualities.

As Gerhard Brückom, head of painted body shell technology at BMW Group, emphasises: “IPP technology has been subjected to extensive analysis and testing throughout its development. We know that it fully conforms to the high optical and functional quality standards of our products. Its long-term quality is guaranteed.”

As well as enhancing the efficiency of the entire paint process, this innovative process also supports BMW Group’s environmental objectives by dispensing with a solvent-based primer-surfacer. For Plant Oxford, IPP brings energy savings and a reduction in emissions in the paint shop of well over 10%.

“Thanks to the introduction of IPP, we can now reallocate the space and infrastructure previously taken up by primer coat application for the swift and efficient installation of an additional base coat line,” says Dr Anton Heiss, managing director, BMW Group Plant Oxford. “Disruption to production arising from the switch has thus been minimised to a few weeks. The new base coat line will also help to ramp up the plant’s production capacity in the mid-term to around 240,000 units.”

The introduction of the new technology and the installation of a second paint application line at the Oxford plant’s paint shop are part of an investment of over 100 million GBP into the MINI production site following the announcement by BMW Group in February last year. Since MINI began coming off the assembly lines in 2001, the plant has always run at a far higher capacity than originally anticipated; currently there is round-the-clock production on up to seven days a week. As Dr Anton Heiss points out, “It was the ideal time to update the paint shop and introduce IPP technology at the plant.”

Plant Oxford, the sole production site for the MINI, is the first facility within BMW Group’s manufacturing network to use the new paint system. The conversion of the entire colour range was completed in May 2006.

The introduction of IPP into other BMW Group production plants will be considered on a case-by-case basis as and when paint shops need replacing or refurbishing.

Source: BMW/MINI Press

  • Interesting. So basically they are replacing the primer coat with a 2nd base coat. I wonder if there will be any differences in things such as durability or orange peel.

  • Max

    I notice the fuel door is mounted inside the headlight. Before it was mounted in the rear quarter window area.

  • Timothy

    Its long-term quality is guaranteed.

    OK, Mr. Brückom. We are coming after you, pitchforks in hand, if our MINIs peel, blister, or fade. You have been warned. 🙂

  • Shawn

    Is it just me, or does a lot of what is happening to the new Mini design seem to be all coming from the bean-counters at BMW? More emphasis seems to be on cutting costs rather than advancing the product.

  • cct1

    Oh boy…Wouldn’t want the first car off the line with this. I’ve always loved the BMW paints, I hope this works out. Is anyone else using this process?

  • cct1

    I notice the fuel door is mounted inside the headlight. Before it was mounted in the rear quarter window area.

    LMAO–that’s not the fuel cap. Since there was so much controversy over the clock placement on the 2005 facelift, BMW moved it to the headlight. It only works at night, but with the light on, it illuminates the time about fifty feet in front of you directly on the road. It’ll really impress the friends and neighbors. No mention yet if it can be retrofitted.

  • Nathaniel Salzman

    The replacement of the primer coat doesn’t bother me as much as that they’re not baking the finish anymore. My other wonder would be if you ever had to have any body work done. Would you be able to match the paint on a scuff or a scratch of fender-bender without painting the whole car again? Or if you got a little scratch fixed and they baked the car to cure that paint, would it screw up the original paint?

  • Yep, I’m still Jim

    Is is just me, or are there two new colors in the photo?

    I’m thinking the first one might be space blue, and the one in the back might be hyper blue, but I’m not sure. Both colors have a distinct purple tone on my monitor.

  • Vanwall

    Krylon. Scary.

  • Ian F
    Is it just me, or does a lot of what is happening to the new Mini design seem to be all coming from the bean-counters at BMW? More emphasis seems to be on cutting costs rather than advancing the product.

    BMW’s desire to cut MINI production costs has been well documented almost since the car’s introduction.

  • Nick

    Not to scare anybody, but, I was behind a BRAND new MINI this morning and was the recepient of paint flecs on my windshield. Actually, the paint filled in some of the numerous pit/pock marks on my windshield. Those MINI engineers can come with some wild solutions, can’t they? (:

  • Roger

    Need feedback from 5-06 and newer owners please!!. How’s your paint? I put in my order last Friday. Yikes.

  • The Blue Canary

    ’06 MCS BRG/W. Only issue I have had with my paint is the little chips I have from small rocks and things. Its not flacking, or pealing, but you can see where something small smashed into it at high speed, and took out a pin head or smaller dink. Just looking at the car you can’t see it. But whet over it on the weekend as I was polishing it, I found a few. Will get the bottle of touch up out today I think. Get an Invisa-bra. They will help you sleep at night.

  • Roger – I wouldn’t think twice about this. BMW would not jeopardize serious amounts of paint related warranty and repair work (and lots of cash) with any new paint system. If they’re using it, it’s only because they’ve tested thoroughly.

  • Ian F

    I agree with Gabe. I’m sure the nightmare that US manufacturer’s went through with pealing paint in the late 80’s/early 90’s is still fresh in the collective memory.

  • Craig

    The reference to “Integrated Paint Process” leads me to believe that they are using one of the waterborne paint slurry processes such as this one from BASF.

  • June 06 build, Astro Black. the paint’s fine. granted i haven’t had it for a week yet. but i’m a detailer ( and have no complaints about the quality of the finish.

  • Roger

    I guess it’s an additional reason for clear bra (just in case:)

  • ichor

    surprised nobody’s asked the million dollar question yet; does this extra base coat line mean we get more colours to chose from? the one major problem with MINI since the start has been the poor selection of colours… one would think if they’re spending money, time and effort to update the lines, they’d expand colour choice?

  • Neil

    I hear it makes for a really sweet non-metallic BRG.