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Training and information on advanced materials is near at hand

Monday, August 29, 2016 - 07:00
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In the era of 24 hour news cycles, most news stories distill into a series of narrative for the audiences most affected. In the collision repair industry, the new, far stricter CAFE standards announced in 2015 have become a tale of the haves and the have-not. The haves are those shops whose early investment in aluminum work gained them both an edge in competition and earning highly prized memberships in OEM repair certification programs.

The have-nots are everyone else--essentially most of the industry. With stronger, lightweight materials poised to take center stage in a design revolution aimed at carving away vehicle weight, the have-nots are on a tight schedule to get up to speed on new materials repair. Yet nearly two years into this transition, industry leaders like SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenberg say notable confusion remains among shops about  what training and other resources are available and which direction repairers should take to enter this new generation of collision work.

(Photo courtesy of Reliable Automotive Equipment) Repairers will need training to handle equipment like the XPress 800 rivet gun, capable of placing 10,000 ft-lbs of pressure on a 6mm rivet tip.

Answers are readily on hand. A review of the current state of new materials repairs points to a number of training options, as well as the paths shops can take to remain competitive in a changing business climate well past 2016.

Available options

I-CAR continues to take steps to make new materials training available throughout the industry. Aluminum GMA (MIG) Welding (WCA03) remains a popular option for shops taking their initial steps in aluminum repair, particularly for the 2016 Ford F-150. Manufacturers such as Infiniti, Acura and Porsche require Gold Class shop designations and Platinum Individual recognition as prerequisites for their materials-focused repair certification networks. The organization continues to integrate its Jaguar and Land Rover training through the Jaguar Authorized Aluminum Repair Network.

I-CAR Industry Technical Support Manager Steve Marks notes two newer courses he believes provide significant benefits to shops looking to gain entry into aluminum and advanced materials work. The first, MIG Brazing Hands-On Skills Development (BRZ02), responds to the growing popularity of MIG brazing among OEMs who Marks says have become confident in the collision repair industry's ability to handle this procedure, which is suited for HSS and UHSS steels. MIG brazing provides bonds created with bronze and silicon wire while using substantially less heat than MIG welding--typically, a drop from 3,000 to 1,940 degrees F.

Damaging heat and loss of zinc corrosion protection are further reduced with the "stitch and "skip" brazing technique. Technicians braze with a series of quick welds followed by cooling stops with 50 percent overlapping.

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