Okay, this is a little confusing and I was not accurate in my initial post. (I have edited it to make it more clear).
What I initially referred to as "lacquer" should have been referred to as "nitrocellulose lacquer." It is illegal in most countries, but it's the paint used by the factories on almost all cars made prior to 1980. In the U.S., nitrocellulose lacquer is generally referred to as "lacquer" by most body shops and lay people.
Technically, lacquer and enamel describe the process in which a paint dries and bonds to its substrate.
Lacquer is carried in a solvent and does not cure, it only dries. The solvent simply evaporates and leaves the paint behind. This is a one part (or non catalyzed, 1K, or 1 pack) paint. The solvent used to thin the paint will disolve it after it has dried.
An enamel dries and cures. As the solvent evaporates, it undergoes a chemical reaction. Once that chemical reaction has occured the paint is less soluable. Generally, but not always, this paint is a two part (catalyzed, 2k or 2pack) paint. There are also alkyd enamels which take a long time to cure and are not catalyzed.
The salient differences between enamels and lacquers were drying time, hardness, and soluability after drying. Nowadays, these issues vary from paint to paint and less from paint type to paint type. Ask your paint supplier or body man for a recommendation or read the data sheets.
Acrylic refers to base of the paint (it's vehicle) which is a plastic. Acrylic can be either an enamel or lacquer. I generally think of Acylics as either 1K or 2K (catalyzed or not). The solvent can be petroleum or water based (aqueous acrylics). In most autmotive applications the solvent is petroleum.
There is a longer explaination by Robert Foster on Craig Central
Hope this helps clear some things up.
PS According to Sherwin Williams' automotive website, their acrylic lacquer paints do contain isocyanates. Read the material safety data sheet at http://www.sherwin-automotive.com/me...glish/1074.pdf
. All automotive paints are extremely dangerous. If you spray them at home, buy a forced air respirator and cover all your exposed skin.