“Be prepared” isn’t just a motto for Boy Scouts. It’s also a smart rule to live by, especially for business owners. Your shop needs to be able to handle any job your customers bring in, and that includes newer cars and trucks built with aluminum. Make sure you have the aluminum essentials down with our easy-to-follow checklist for your aluminum-repair arsenal.
In order to truly be ready to take on aluminum repair jobs, your technicians will need some additional training. Welding aluminum is very different from working with steel. Investing in some education will ensure your techs understand the science behind the differences, as well as the tools and techniques they’ll use when working with aluminum.
Resources like Chief University are always updating their classes to include the latest techniques and cover the newest materials. The Aluminum Damage Analysis and Repair Technology course offers insights into things like:
- The principles of aluminum forming methods
- Damage analysis
- Welding basis
- OEM recommendations
A Space Dedicated to Aluminum
Cross contamination between steel and aluminum can lead to corrosion, so it’s important to have separate spaces to handle repairs to each. In order to be ensure you’re protected from cross contamination, you’ll need:
- A truly contained space. Rather than dedicating, say, an open corner of your shop to aluminum repairs, it’s best to have a fully separated space. One alternative to building out an entirely new space or renovating is to use specially designed autobody curtains to seal off a designated area. This option is cost-efficient and easier to execute than most building projects. Keep everything organized by using the aluminum dent repair station, a mobile workstation cabinet for dedicated aluminum repair tool storage and work bench area.
- Exhaust equipment. A fume extractor is a must for your aluminum repair area. Aluminum particles released in the air can be toxic, and they can hang around for days. A good fume extractor will collect those particles and filter them out, making for a safer working environment.
Corrosion is also a consideration when it comes to tools. It’s best to have separate equipment for working with aluminum and steel, so there’s less risk of contamination. Plus, in some cases, working with aluminum requires different settings or techniques, which calls for different tools. Along with designated standard equipment like sanders, stock your aluminum-repair area with:
- A MIG welder
- An aluminum-capable stud welder
- An OEM-approved structural holding package designed for the newest aluminum vehicles
- Accessories that turn your current equipment aluminum-compatible, such as target attachments for aluminum
- A rivet gun