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We’ve all seen chameleon paint that changes color based on the direction of the light source. And we’ve seen the paint that changes color based on temperature. Especially if you splash hot or cold water on it. Both have been around for years. But this Audi invention is neither of those. But what if you could change your paint color like switching on a light?

Audi just applied for a patent on color-changing paint; but why?

Audi color-changing paint
Audi color-changing paint | Audi

That is what Audi has just applied for a German patent to protect. CarBuzz found the application recently, with the goal to reduce energy consumption. But how does color-changing paint do that? 

Audi calls this “adaptive color.” It says that because “black vehicles consume one to two percent more energy than white vehicles in midsummer.” Audi’s invention uses “a graphic film layer having a displayable image and a background color, a switchable film layer, and a color coat layer. The switchable film layer is switchable between a clear state and a dark state. When the switchable film layer is energized, either the displayable graphic is displayed on a top side of the display film against the background color, or only the background color is displayed on top of the display film.” 

The color change happens when electricity is applied to suspended liquid crystal particles

Audi color-changing paint
Audi color-changing paint | Audi

This is engaged with electrical voltage applied to liquid crystal particles. These LCPs are suspended in the paint like metallic particles in metallic paints. Or a polymer liquid crystal film could be applied like a paint mask. 

The liquid crystal particles rearrange when an electrical charge is triggered. When that happens the opaque film now turns transparent. Now the color underneath the mask or paint is exposed. When you want your dark color back just cut off the electrical charge and the molecules go back to their previous opaque state. 

The result is less energy being needed to heat or cool the cabin. Will it work? Of course. Is the added savings worth the cost of adding the paint system to an Audi? That seems doubtful, which is too bad. 

How expensive could this paint be?

Audi color-changing paint
Audi color-changing paint | Audi

Wouldn’t you love to be able to buy color-changing paint for your car? With the flip of a switch, you’d have an instant color change. But just as candy colors in the 1950s and 1960s, and pearls and metalflakes in the 1960 and 1970s cost much more to buy and apply than standard paint, so too this new type of paint would undoubtedly be. 

But at least with pearls and candies, with new developments and applications, the price has come down. As with these early custom paints we expect to see this applied to show cars first. Then over time, we might have an opportunity to have it on one of our daily drivers. Or not.


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