When Ford introduced its aluminum body on the F150 a lot of auto-body shops were concerned about the impact on their operations, as they had little or no experience in working aluminum. One issue is time. Though aluminum bodies are repairable they due take longer to accomplish.
How to Fix a Dent in Aluminum
Aluminum is a work hardened material, meaning as it is hammered or worked it hardens like brass does. In an accident the forces that crumpled the aluminum also hardened the aluminum into its new shape. It takes heat to soften the metal to be worked. The area is reworked as the surrounding metal must be considered not just the dent. You must first heat the damaged area, moving or reforming the metal and allowing to cool to hold all this forming work in place. But the technician must do this while with goal in mind to prevent further damage to the surrounding metal. Many have found this process eats up too much of the auto body technician’s time, requires specialized equipment making them take the short cut by just replacing body parts. But this is unfortunate as they would make more money fixing the problem while saving money over the cost of new parts in the repair process. Good for them and the customer and insurance companies. A MIG welding machine is used in skip-bead brazing process is used, and as it operates at a lower temperature it does not overheat adjacent areas to the brazing process and uses bronze as the media. As this process become more prevalent the body shop has already added a potent piece of equipment to their repair arsenal.
MIG Brazing / Welding Aluminum
MIG brazing characteristics are:
• Less welding splatters. Bronze transfer is remarkably splatter free.
• Easier finishing of the welded joint due to the softness of the bronze brazing material.
• Less warpage due to lower heats associated with the bronze brazing process.
• Less potential for ‘burn through’.
Brazing works through adhesion not fusion of metals. Brazing operates at temperatures a little over half that of welding (3000 degrees Fahrenheit versus 1940 degrees for brazing). Only the filler metal melts, not the surrounding material. Pulse MIG provides lower heat input and has yielded the best results. Using a bronze alloy solder or wire and argon gas as a shield the brazing process has proven superior to welding. The MIG can do double duty for welding steel as well as brazing aluminum. When welding aluminum you must match your wire to manufacturers alloy, not all are equal. Another aspect of working aluminum is use of adhesives and rivets. Adhesives must be matched to aluminum alloy as well to control corrosion as well as considering bonding strength.
Auto Body Services & More in Dallas, Texas (Just Minutes Away from Addison, Balch Springs, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Coppell, DeSoto, Duncanville, Farmers Branch, Ferris, Garland, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Irving, Lancaster, Lewisville, Mesquite, Ovilla, Richardson, Rowlett, Sachse, Seagoville, Sunnyvale & Wylie, TX)
Aluminum repair has opened many shops to alternative revenue streams broadening their profits. Many shops find themselves repairing aluminum hulled boats, trailers and motor homes. Epoxy primers are used for bonding fillers to aluminum and steel repairs. As can be seen the repair of aluminum is definitely not a DIY project. Also it best to find a body shop that has embraced aluminum repair as they will have the equipment and expertise to do the repair. Experience goes a long with aluminum body repairs and the ability to recognize manufacturers recommendations. Top Notch Body Shop & Mechanical can meet all your auto body needs. Contact us today!