Lexus Manufacturing Master of Paint

Lexus Kimihiro Sakakibara

Lexus Magazine has published a fascinating article on Kimihiro Sakakibara, one of the 10 Lexus Takumi Masters that oversee factory production:

For anyone still unfamiliar with the term, Lexus Takumi are the automotive equivalent of a 10th Dan black belt. Each of the ten Takumi specializes in a key area of the vehicle—and each commands enormous respect in the Japanese auto world.

Sakakibara’s specialty is paint, specifically that multilayer, high-tech, deep-luster finish of a Lexus that requires a combination of art and high science to make perfect.

It’s tough, but that’s how it’s supposed to be, says Sakakibara. Much of the Lexus paint process is a hands-on affair, with all the human attention to detail that entails. “I still haven’t forgotten about the important basic stance that I learned for applying the topcoat with a spray gun years ago,” Sakakibara says. “I was patiently trained to get my posture right. As a result, I was soon able to spray without any dripping or transparency.”

So what’s the benchmark he’s always enforcing—the success as he and Lexus define it? “The more your Lexus looks like a mirror, the better the quality,” explains Sakakibara. “But the fundamental success of the process depends on our workers’ intuition. We’re lucky at Lexus in being able to follow this ‘handmade’ approach. I want that to continue and develop.”

The level of detail and work needed to produce a Lexus-quality paint finish is staggering, be sure to watch the the great video of Sakakibara-san demonstrating his sanding technique for a window into the process.

[Source: Lexus Magazine]