The process creates matte lettering and graphics on an otherwise glossy finish.

Audi has launched a new customization program that can etch lettering and graphics into exterior paint.

The process uses a powder to roughen the clear lacquer coat above the paint, converting the glossy surface to a matte finish. The etching only removes a few microns.

Audi suggests the patented process using a blasting system to spray the special powder onto the surface, suggesting it is an abrasive blasting process rather than a chemical etch.

"With this process, we modify the brilliance of the paintwork and the intensity of its sheen," says project manager Erhard Brandl. "Light hitting the surface is then reflected diffusely by the individualized surface areas. This makes it appear matte."

The company argues that the etched surface is weather resistant, unlike adhesive-applied graphics, and has a more high-quality appearance. It also supports "almost any pattern" a customer might desire, measuring up to a square meter in size.

The R8 is the first car to receive the customization option, enabling buyers to add special matte lettering or graphics to the side blades of the Coupe or Spyder variant. The company will extend the process to other models in the future.