Step 12. Apply filler. Experts recommend contour short strand fiberglass filler since it's much stronger than ordinary filler, allowing techs to apply it in much heavier portions to fill larger depressions and gaps. Before application, clean the area with a pre-painting product to remove any contaminants that can impede adhesion. Apply the filler on all the weld seams, as well as the top section of the patch (the lowest areas need the most support). Note that short strand fiberglass filler is very tough and hardens quickly.
Step 13. Begin sanding 10-15 min after the filler application using 40-60 grit paper to remove the high spots. Then, use 80 grit to level the rest of the area.
Step 14. Apply a contour glazing putty to finish the panel.
Step 15. Apply primer to seal the area. First, wipe down the area again with a prep cleaner. Tape the area about 5 inches off the filler edge to prevent primer overspray. Apply a 2K urethane primer surface. Start from the outside and work your way in.
Step 16. Use 320-400 grit paper on a block to remove any imperfections.
Step 17. Prep the repair for painting. Block sand the entire repair area with 400 grit paper to remove sanding scratches. With a red scuff pad, scuff the existing paint to create a uniform painting surface that will help the base coat stick. Wipe off the panel one more time with the cleaning product; then use a tack rag to remove any lint or dirt from the painting surface.
Note that fiberglass filler material can create more dust and contaminates than other body filler. You'll need to take extra steps to thoroughly remove these particles to avoid having them setting into fresh paint. Always use a blow gun to move as much dust and dirt away from the area surrounding the panel and dust the floor thoroughly.
While you continue to build fabrication skills, two areas you'll want to address are marketing and pricing. Your business will need to investigate what fabrication services will be most in demand in your area. From there, you'll need to address competitive pricing to make sure you're properly compensated. A quick audit of competitors' charges can help here. Labor rates should be superior to what you collect from insurance-paid work.
Considering your start up investment will be relatively modest, metal fabrication can be a great fit for a number of shops, especially smaller, standalone businesses. Indeed, adding a service that can help these repairers survive in the shadow of growing regional and national MSOs is no small feat.