Audi Cars to Get Sandblasted Tattoos

Traditionally, mass-produced cars lack the high level of individualization niche vehicles are allowed to have. Despite countless trim levels on offer for any given model, no single Audi, for instance, is unique.
Audi Q2 comes with sculpted crosses on the side blade 6 photos
Photo: Audi
Partial matting on the Audi R8 and Q2Partial matting on the Audi R8 and Q2Partial matting on the Audi R8 and Q2Partial matting on the Audi R8 and Q2Partial matting on the Audi R8 and Q2
But what if it could be? What if, alongside regular trim options, Audi would allow customers to draw virtually any surface in the interior or exterior in a different paint, motif or drawing than the one used on the rest of the car?

Audi said on Monday that, starting with a special edition of the Q2 called #2, its customers will be able to “drive even more individualized cars.”

More to the point, the #2 special edition of the Audi Q2 comes with what appears to be a very special paint job. One that aside for the regular color of the body features what the carmaker calls partial matting: matte paint and motifs on the side blade, bumpers and more.

The thing with this Q2 variant is that it previews a future of possibly endless customizations. For the matte portions of the car, Audi does not simply use paint, but rather a complex process that could allow virtually any lettering, logos or photos to be embedded straight into the metal of the car.

This is possible because of the technique developed by Audi. A template is placed on the already painted car component of choice. Then, using a a process not unlike sandblasting, a few thousandths of a millimeter from the top layer of clear lacquer is removed.

That leaves behind a difference in surface structure that allows whatever was drawn to show as a matte image with pixel accuracy. The motifs are also, says Audi, resistant to abrasion.

It’s the same technology that was used for the selection 24h edition of the Audi R8 Coupe V10 Plus back in 2016. The car came with R8 lettering sculpted on the CFRP side blades. The difference is that two years ago these tattoos were made by hand, whereas now the technology has gone automated.

According to Audi, matting a sideblade for the Q2 only takes about a minute.

The carmaker did not say when this personalization option will become available to the masses. The #2 Audi Q2 with a large pattern of crosses on the side blade is available for order in Germany, and soon it will arrive on other markets as well.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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