Preparing for aluminum repair is a big challenge when you consider the investment, shop renovations, new processes and training for the repair experts. 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division is helping shops better understand what’s needed to prepare them for efficiently handling aluminum repairs, including standard operating processes, tools, training and products for dis-assembly, re-assembly, sanding and paint preparation.
Aluminum has several unique characteristics compared with other vehicle materials such as steel. Repairing this heat-sensitive metal requires use of advanced repair techniques and methods. That means updated training and key equipment. In addition to knowledge, the shop must have the dedicated space to make the repair within a clean room containing separate tools, where technicians perform all welding, bonding, riveting, sanding, grinding and structural procedures on aluminum components. 3M has been working with OEMs for several years to validate the tools, products and processes for aluminum repair. Now, shops can implement 3M’s proven portfolio of products, tools, SOPS and materials to expertly repair aluminum-body vehicles.
“The key in handling non-structural or structural aluminum repairs is to create an entirely separate environment from the rest of the shop to avoid contaminating aluminum with iron oxide components that can cause corrosion. Contamination can lead to adhesion and paint failures, which translate to re-work and damaged parts that impact KPIs,” said Shawn Collins, Technical Expert for 3M AAD. “Most shops create their clean room by using a curtain structure or by utilizing a separate room or building. Regardless, aluminum repair will require a separate tool cart with an entirely separate set of tools, products and materials used only for aluminum repairs. Additionally, self-generated vacuum tools from 3M AAD can provide low-cost dust extraction.”
Separate safety equipment is also important, as technicians will need dedicated respirators, eye protection and gloves for aluminum repairs. This is a good time to review shop safety and hygiene practices. 3M AAD offers a full line of safety equipment for every safety need.
3M makes the seam sealers, premium body fillers, undercoats and abrasives that can be used on both aluminum and steel. The difference lies not in the products and materials needed for the repair, but in the repair process itself.
Premium 3M AAD body fillers and glazes contain high-quality adhesion promoters and are approved for use on aluminum. Please follow all OEM directions and 3M Standard Operating Procedures. For sanding, 3M AAD recommends its line of 3M™ Cubitron™ II abrasives that cut faster, run cooler and minimize substrate damage.
Although the aluminum panel bonding process is often slightly different than the steel bonding process, the 3M™ Panel Bonding Adhesive is also compatible and OEM approved for aluminum. 3M Panel Bonding Adhesive has been used to bond aluminum panels for nearly 20 years and is specifically recommended by Ford for the repairs to the 2015 Aluminum F-150. Panel bonding adhesives undergo extensive testing in order to be specified by a car maker so there is no question about its ability to bond aluminum parts successfully.
3M automotive Aftermarket Division also now has available Standard Operating Procedures for aluminum repair. Visit 3MCollision.com/aluminum for more information.
For more information about 3M products and solutions for aluminum repair, contact 1-877-MMM-CARS, contact your local 3M Distributor or 3M Sales Representative or visit the website at www.3Mcollision.com.
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