Kia Motors changes pretreatment process to GardoFlex technology

Kia Motors Slovakia (KMS) benefits from manifold advantages by implementing the latest pretreatment technology of Chemetall. With the new GardoFlex multi-metal zinc-phosphating process KMS enhances the quality of their production process while at the same time achieving significant process cost savings.

Kia combines top quality, attractive design and great value for money. In 2006, Korean’s oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles, started their first automotive production plant in Europe to responds to the increasing market share growth in this region. Three car models, Kia cee’d, Sportage and Venga, and six types of engines are produced in Slovakia. From the very beginning, KMS choose Chemetall as their key supplier for metal pretreatment. The surface treatment company’s high-quality products were already tested successfully for many years at the Kia and Hyundai plants in Korea.

GardoFlex – the answer to new market demands

In 2013, KMS changed their metal pretreatment from a conventional zinc-phosphating process to the GardoFlex technology from Chemetall. The new process combines the known benefits of the tried and tested zinc-phosphating technology while at the same time meets the new market demands of the global automotive industry. Besides a rising mix of metal substrates in car bodies and components, demands also include ever more stringent environmental requirements, rising cost pressure and also compliance with specific quality standards and tests of the automotive manufacturers. “GardoFlex provides us with numerous advantages. As the technology was simple to implement in our existing line, it was an easy step for us to enhance our metal pretreatment process in terms of quality and process costs”, says Peter Geleta, paint shop Senior Manager at KMS.

Customized pretreatment boosts production

The GardoFlex technology from Chemetall can be used for all standard metal materials used in the automotive industry. No limits exist for the throughput of aluminum substrates and even non-galvanized steel can be treated without any problem. The modern zinc-phosphating technology consists of a large number of high-performance modules. From cleaning and degreasing to activation and phosphating through to the last rinsing step - for every process step within the metal pretreatment, KMS and Chemetall have defined the optimal modules, allowing an increased process efficiency and a raise in the production yield. Out of the multiplicity of products Chemetall offers, modules are selected as a function of the local market conditions, legal regulations, plant technology available and the substrate throughput – in case of the mentioned car bodies and components produced at KMS it is steel, galvannealed steel and hot-dip galvanized steel.

Modules allow for process economics

With the new GardoFlex system, significant process cost economics were achieved at KMS. For example by reducing the temperature in the zinc-phosphating bath, energy costs were distinctly reduced. Also the bath life of activation stage was substantially prolonged. “With our former process we had to completely renew the activation bath every three weeks. With the optimally aligned GardoFlex technology we only have to do it every six months. We save huge amounts of water as well as waste water and can dramatically reduce our maintenance work”, says František Podzimek, manager of paint shop engineering section. The reduced water consumption also results in a smaller effluent volume which contributes to the resource-saving aspect of the new technology.

The GardoFlex process allows for a robust phopshating performance. The finer crystal formation and the uniform layer on the metal surface ensure a better quality of the phosphate layer. Instead of a powder product, KMS has choosen the liquid module for their production line. The automatic dosing of the liquid product ensures a simplified operation of the process.

GardoFlex for greater independence

The modern GardoFlex technology can be directly integrated into any production line. As a consequence, no cost-intensive alterations were required at KMS. In January 2013, the new technology was implemented and since then the process runs smoothly. Less water and chemicals consumption on one hand and a better quality process on the other hand pay-off in a high quality and optimized process and thus offering major benefits for KMS.


Short article: Kia Motors changes pretreatment process to GardoFlex technology

About Chemetall

Chemetall, a division of Rockwood Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: ROC), is a leading global supplier of special chemicals with a focus on processes for the surface treatment of metals and plastics. Chemetall is headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and comprises about 40 companies and 22 production sites worldwide. With 2,100 employees, the Group achieved sales of about 592 million Euro (2013). More at




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