The automaker can evaluate paint samples in half the time it would normally take.
We spend plenty of time talking about cars from a driver’s perspective. Obviously it takes all kinds of research and development to see a concept through to production, but we suspect very few people actually know just how deep that rabbit hole really goes. Nissan occasionally opens a window into that world, and recently the automaker shared a bit of insight on something many people take for granted: paint durability.
It sounds like a simple process. Paint a car, stick it outside, and let Mother Nature do her best. Unfortunately, that takes time and we’ve all heard the time is money cliché. To speed things up, Nissan built a nifty box it calls the Xenon Weather-Ometer (XWO for short), and its sole purpose is to simulate harsh UV environments – AKA searing sunshine – on various paint samples. It can hold nearly 100 samples at a time, and since the “sun” shines in the box 24 hours a day, Nissan can study the effects in roughly half the time it would take doing it the old-fashioned way.
The XWO is a fairly simple rig. It uses a single 4,000-watt Xenon bulb to emit the same kind of UV wavelengths as the sun, effectively baking all the samples at once. The paint chips are placed on a large ball-shaped holder that rotates slowly inside, simulating the earth’s orbit.
"In addition to rigorous real-world tests, this tool allows us to create harsh environments," said Doug Prytula, a technician for body and chassis testing with Nissan North America. "It is one more step we take to ensure Nissan's quality standards are second-to-none."
The XWO doesn’t simulate wind, water, or other environmental factors, but regardless of weather conditions, all cars feel the wrath of sunshine. Think about that the next time you’re dropping a coat of wax on your beloved ride.
Gallery: Nissan equipment for testing paint durability
Testing paint samples to prevent sun damage without the sun - a bright idea from Nissan
- Even on the day with the shortest period of daylight - winter solstice - the sun still shines at Nissan's engineering center near Detroit, Mich. with the help of the Xenon Weather-Ometer (XWO) testing tool
- In addition to real-world tests, Nissan engineers use the XWO machine to test paint, interior materials and plastics for durability and quality – a tanning bed of sorts
- Nearly 100 different colored samples can be tested at once, reducing excess waste and saving time
FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – On the darkest day of the year Nissan engineers in Michigan are still performing sunlight UV exposure tests thanks to the Xenon Weather-Ometer (XWO) tool that evaluates material durability in different climate conditions.
To evaluate the effects of solar energy on paint and other materials, a 4,000-watt Xenon bulb bakes nearly 100 samples at the same wavelengths as the sun. Samples rotate around the Xenon bulb to imitate earth's orbit – and because the "sun can shine" 24 hours a day, it takes half the time to test paint samples. Engineers observe the material samples through a series of cycles to investigate changes and ensure top durability and quality for Nissan customers.
"In addition to rigorous real-world tests, this tool allows us to create harsh environments," said Doug Prytula, technician, body and chassis testing, Nissan North America. "It is one more step we take to ensure Nissan's quality standards are second-to-none."
Nissan uses test environments like the XWO accelerated weather chamber to replicate conditions that occur in a natural environment, right inside the lab. These test cells expose various types of material samples to a wide range of conditions that a vehicle may face throughout its lifecycle.