Philpott weighs in on matte auto finish craze


Is there a high-tech or ease-of-maintenance advantage to using a matte finish on cars? MechSE prof. Mike Philpott helped answer this question posed by a reader at the News-Gazette.

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Mike PhilpottMechSE Lecturer and Associate Professor Emeritus Mike Philpott recently helped clarify a question put to the News-Gazette's Kathy Reiser about the reason so many new vehicles have a flat matte finish. Philpott's expertise comes in part from his decades of serving as the faculty advisor to the University of Illinois' Formula SAE (Illin Motorsports) team. Here's what he had to say to the News-Gazette:

UI Grainger Engineering professor Michael Philpott said he agrees that matte finishes are harder to maintain and repair. “However, vinyl wrap is often used to create matte, satin and other novel finishes. The vehicle is wrapped with adhesive-backed vinyl over the top of its original finish. This vinyl comes in a variety of finishes and, if damaged, can be peeled off and replaced – even on just one body panel.

“So, repair costs can in fact be easier and cheaper. Vinyl wrap also has the advantage of protecting the original finish. The process has become refined enough now that it’s actually quite hard to see the difference between paint and vinyl wrap.

"As for why you would want a non-traditional finish like this … I think mainly to stand out and be different or cool!"

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This story was published July 8, 2024.