Yow Jia Hong is highly passionate about cars and it shows. Despite not having the relevant technical or industry experience in product formulation, he and his fellow co-founder of Artdeshine (ADS) set up the car detailing business and transformed it into a producer of experiential detailing products. Entirely self-taught, the duo’s emphasis on quality has made ADS a go-to brand for automotive care, with a strong portfolio of in-house formulated products favoured by discerning automotive aficionados across the globe.

The SME’s success, in part, comes down to the founders’ insistence on constantly developing products that help detailers solve problems in their trade, such as unsightly blemishes on automotive paint caused by corrosive substances. The desire to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their work and raise confidence in ADS’ products led them to IPI in late 2017.

“We wanted to create a polymer coating that utilises graphene to improve corrosion resistance, but struggled with the dispersion of graphene oxide in a stable polymer matrix,” recalls Yow. “IPI’s broad network introduced the right partner to us. Without their support, we would not have known we could tap the expertise of educational institutions to develop and enhance our products.”

IPI’s recommendation of Republic Polytechnic (RP) was an obvious choice. The institution’s commitment to nurturing strong problemsolving capabilities and their School of Applied Science’s expertise in smart coating solutions made them the perfect fit. While RP’s Senior Lecturer (Industry) Dr Gabriel Lee and his project team contributed the technical expertise and facilities for R&D to optimise the formulation, ADS provided input on functionality, application and testing.

Over 12 months, ADS and RP’s researchers exchanged insights and findings on the suitable materials, processes and equipment. “The challenge was to create an optimal formulation that met performance enhancement requirements, while being easily scalable and commercially viable,” explains Dr Lee.

The year-long collaboration culminated in a final product that surpassed all expectations. “For the automotive care industry, ADS’ Nano Graphene Coating is a step ahead in terms of performance,” says Yow. “Not only is the graphene oxide dispersion 10 times better with improved stability and even distribution, but the polymer coating composition recommended by RP is more mechanically robust and economical to formulate.”

Once the product entered the market in 2020, it took off, winning over car detailers worldwide and driving confidence in ADS as a pioneering brand. But the company was not the only winner. While ADS gained a new manufacturing process and sharpened their competitive edge, the RP team was able to broaden their experience and expertise in smart coating solutions. 

“We were exposed to current industry problems and had to formulate innovative ways to solve them,” Dr Lee elaborates. “While strengthening our existing capabilities, we also gained new technical knowledge and insights and saw first-hand how a local SME can stay competitive through innovation.”

Since production began in early August 2021, sales of the new product have spiked. In response to the promising sales, ADS is revving up the development of new revolutionary products for the global automotive care industry as well as more fruitful collaborations.

As they enlarge their global footprint, Yow is adamant that their roots remain firmly local. “Having many new and exciting products in the pipeline will propel us into the limelight. We are growing our team and will establish distribution hubs in strategic locations around the world. Even so, all our in-house formulated products will be solely and proudly manufactured in Singapore and exported. This will ensure tighter quality control and allow us to leverage the country’s excellent logistics network in the long run.”