Originally Posted by burosky
Perhaps those who have experience painting cars can let us in on the secret.
modern cars are usually painted in "2-pack" aka "plastic" paint
this is a 2-part paint that cures rockhard... its like mixing 5-min epoxy glue,
the tinted/thinned paint when ready is mixed with its matching activator
and then your stopwatch starts - you've gotta get the paint sprayed
or it'll setup rockhard in your gun
cars are painted in a paintbooth to control dust, humidity & temperature.
Many are heated if ambient temperature is too low, warmth also helps
paint to "flow" so you get a pretty smooth finish right off the gun.
however 2-pack is POISONOUS so painters need a full mask with air supply;
hence you won't find much non-pro painters getting access to 2-pack
olden days cars were painted with lacquer, this just "dries" when its solvent
evaporates leaving behind the solid (=filler+tint) material. Good old lacquers
aren't sold these days due to VOC restrictions; modern acrylic lacquers
are waterbased and imho just don't work as well... eg stay soft, craters etc
what hasn't been mentioned is Powder Coating
this is a plasticky paint in solid powder form; your item is statically charged
and the paint is charged with the opposite so its sprinkled on & sticks to it.
Then its baked in oven where the powder melts together to a solid surface.
Powder coating is used on motorcycle frames, machinery etc.
It sticks pretty well to most surfaces (that can survive the heat)
and is very hardwearing & resistant to abrasion.