We continue to see new materials being used every day to reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel economy. With the 2015 Ford F-150 being introduced with an aluminum body, the collision industry is now realizing that aluminum may be one of the materials that nearly every collision repair facility will begin to see more frequently over the next couple of years.
While we are not all familiar with aluminum vehicle repair, we have probably enjoyed a beverage or two that was packaged in an aluminum can. In reading some information from the Aluminum Association I learned that since they began tracking the weight of aluminum can in 1972 that the weight of the average can has been reduced by 38% through 2014. With innovative changes, the amount of material being used to package your favorite beverage has been reduced, while maintaining the strength and durability that is required for the application. So while you sip that beverage after work today, know that by reducing the weight of the can, that you can now enjoy more of it due to the manufacturer’s ability to gain greater shipping efficiency and package and transport it using less material!
Aluminum Light Vehicle Applications
Yes the F-150 is new. But if you look at the use of aluminum in light vehicles, the growth started many years ago. Information found on the Aluminum Associations web site shows that the amount of aluminum in North American light vehicles has grown each year for nearly 50 years! The average vehicle in 1975 contained less than 100 pounds while growing to nearly 400 pounds in 2015. That growth is expected to continue for at least the next 10 years with a projection of 547 pounds in 2025.
In 2015 nearly seven (7) billion pounds of aluminum will be used for vehicle production. While engines and other parts make up the majority of that usage, they are projecting that 11% of the total will be used on body and closure panels.
The projection is that by 2025, 26.6% of all body and closure panels for vehicles in North America will be made of aluminum. So the question is, what do you need for equipment if the growth continues at this rate?
Dedicated Aluminum Tools
Galvanic corrosion, which is caused by contact between two dis-similar metals (and exposed to moisture, water, salt, etc.) has been a concern in the collision industry for many years. To minimize or eliminate the risk of cross contamination, shops must have a dedicated set of hand tools that will only be used on aluminum panels. These hand tools include hammers, dollies, clamps, files, drill bits, saw blades, etc. Tools with serrated faces should never be used in aluminum repairs.
In addition to hand tools, power tools, parts carts, stands, workbenches and jacks are also a concern. Tools such as pneumatic sanders (and the abrasives used) will also become coated with particles from the material being repaired whether it is steel or aluminum. In simple terms, all tools needed to perform steel repairs must be duplicated and dedicated for aluminum repairs.
Not only is this an investment that the shop must make, but it is also requires a change in the shops culture. There can be no exceptions to the standard operating procedure (SOPs) and shop policies that require these dedicated tools to be used only on aluminum.
|Shops must have a dedicated set of hand and power tools that will only be used on aluminum panels.||Aluminum repair tools use a capacitor discharge gun to attach the stud, hook, or rings to the aluminum panel.|