Trailerbodybuilders 732 Prepainted Aluminum

Advancements in pre-painted aluminum offer options to van manufacturers

Jan. 5, 2015
Choices for pre-painted aluminum gain a more colorful cosmetic attraction

EVERYBODY wants options today. According to the National Coil Coating Association (NCCA), new advancements in pre-painted aluminum are providing truck and trailer body builders with more colors, specialty finishes, and visual effects than ever.

While historical black and white colors are still the most common, a whole new array of color choices is gaining ground.

“We’re getting requests for lots of bright vivid colors like yellows, oranges, and even metallic coatings” says Keith Terry, coil development manager at Dura Coat, a member of NCCA.

Polyesters are gaining interest, and polyester metallic colors are as well because of their new brilliance. Their dramatic cosmetic appeal coincides with the growing business of freight companies marketing their trailers for advertisement.

“Metallic finishes are better than ever,” Terry says. “With an enhanced two-coat technology, batch to batch consistency and color control—head to tail and coil to coil—are greatly improved. The two-coat metallic technology truly provides an unlimited color palette.”

Color is just one area where choices are expanding in pre-painted aluminum. New “texture-like” finishes are offering superior scuff resistance which is required within the trailer market. These finishes actually got their start in public restrooms where they were used on wall panels to provide superior abrasion resistance and better clean up.

“The texture particles create a distorted surface pattern that disrupts the aluminum from marring, scratching, and scuffing,” says Terry.

Lenny Greenhall, a Dura Coat corporate officer and the company’s vice-president of sales, has seen another big change in pre-painted aluminum.

“Acrylic finishes have dominated the truck trailer market,” he says. “They offered more appealing aesthetics in the past. But advancements in polyester resins provide enhanced distinction of image (DOI), stain resistance, and stain resistance. Now both polyesters and acrylics are used and offer the end customer a wider range of options.”

Pre-painted aluminum has many other positive attributes, according to Greenhall.

“Pre-painted aluminum offers better machinability within the fabrication process,” he says. “It eliminates the historical red rust issues derived from cut and exposed edges. That means better cosmetic longevity throughout the life of the product. Plus, with the implementation of a two-coat system using a primer and a top coat, corrosion resistance is better than ever. Corrosion resistance is critical, especially in northern regions. There snowfall and icing are prominent and require salt and deicing agents which are ‘primary contributors’ for corrosion. Longer corrosion-resistance is critical within the market.”

With all these color and finish choices for truck and trailer body manufacturers, it also means coil coaters now have more options to consider and track. Coil coaters are capturing ‘product specific’ recipes by running interim trials, providing precise parameters on future production. This eliminates non-conforming material while also reducing set up times.

When suppliers provide coaters with a new product, “First Production” is considered a trial. They reference historical parameters when setting up the line that accounts for things like substrate, insert gauge, treatment, treatment coating weights, line speed, oven settings, and other factors. Upon achieving the required product specifications listed within the Product Data Sheet and Customer Protocol, the process parameters are captured, creating a “recipe.” The product recipe is then entered into the system, becoming the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for future orders.

Not only is having more precise and repeatable recipes assuring superior color control and consistency, so is today’s advanced clean oven technology. More and more coil coaters are upgrading their processes by including clean oven technology. “This technology reduces foreign contamination and oven fouling. This further protects the integrity of the color. It also helps lessen pollutants,” says Greenhall.

More color options. New advanced finishes. Better performance and application outcomes. Today’s pre-painted aluminum is offering truck and trailer body builders a whole new world of high-performance choices. For more ideas on why pre-painted aluminum is an excellent option, be sure to visit

NCCA is an association of businesses engaged in the process of coating flat-rolled metals. Coil coatings are factory applied in a quality-controlled process that allows for virtually unlimited array of color coatings. More than 100 international companies, from every aspect of the supply chain are members of NCCA. ♦