Auto Body Shop Equipment Distribution
Copyright: Pro Line Systems International Inc. 2002
Making Expensive Equipment Affordable "Since 2002"
GYS Welder in operation by technician
American Freedom Frame Machine
Go to content

What You Need To Know About Plastic Welding

Pro Line Systems International-Auto Body Shop Equipment
Published by Pro Line Systems in Body Shop Equipment · 27 August 2022
Tags: WhyPlasticWeldingIsImportantInTheAutoBodyShop

Wedge Clamp Fusion WS-1000 Plastic Welderpolyvance-nitrogen-plastic-welder


What You Need to Know About Plastic Welding


In the early 1980s, airless plastic welding was the only technology available to repair plastic bumpers on cars. When polyurethane bumpers first appeared, they were easily repaired with an airless plastic welder. Even when polypropylene and Xenoy (PC) bumpers were introduced, technicians had difficulty deciding whether to use welding rods.

When Duramax was introduced in the late '80s, it provided a convenient method for repairing plastics that did not depend as heavily on the material. The burn or float test was often used to determine whether a substance was plastic. Although airless welders are still used by some repair shops today, the rise of two-part materials has primarily supplanted the plastic welder.

Today, hot air welding is a more viable repair method for plastic bumper repairs, as about 98 percent of bumper materials are polypropylene/TPO blends. Even though PP welding rods are not suitable for PUR bumpers, plastic welding is still a viable option, thanks to the fact that there are so few of them. Because they are so rare PUR and PC bumpers available nowadays, the technician can rely on using the specific PP welding rod on almost all of the bumper models currently on the market.

FYI: Since Covid, many suppliers of replacement parts are having a very tough time supplying auto body shops with desperately needed parts to finish their collision repairs. These days, Supply chain issues abound in just about any industry besides automotive.
Therefore, plastic welding repair makes waiting months for replacement parts a Thing Of The Past. We have technology available to us right now to produce quality repairs, reduce cycle time, make happy customers and insurance companies as well as a less stressful business environment.

Speed

Hot air welding can be performed five times faster than airless welding. Furthermore, you can finish hot air welding jobs quicker because there is no need to give the material time to cure. The welding rod is a thermoplastic substance that may be quickly cooled with air or water. It is faster than two-part adhesive repairs because the adhesion promoter flashes off before the weld. The cycle time is considerably decreased by welding the entire repair ready for finishing. It is also more substantial than an airless weld, as the welding rod keeps its original strength due to its extruded structure. A strong, extruded rod is maintained. The entire rod is melted and mixed with the base material in a two-part weld, which results in a jumbled-up structure. The surface of each material is only fused.
Welding is a viable option when repairs are required on tabs, mounting slots, or holes with insufficient surface area for two-part adhesives to stick. The consumable material used in welding is less expensive than two-part adhesives; a repairing material will cost less than the mixer tip. Temperature changes do not cause haloing or bullseye in repair areas because welding does not alter the thermal expansion coefficient.

repairing plastice bumper with nitrogen welder

Nitrogen Welding

The introduction of nitrogen welding has revolutionized the world of welding. This technique combines bottled nitrogen gas (or argon/CO2 mix) with a hot air welder to weld materials. The presence of oxygen in the air causes melted plastic to burn, resulting in smoke and ash. Using a shielding gas like nitrogen purges oxygen from the welding area, resulting in cleaner welds that are more durable than air welds. Hot air (or nitrogen) welds are simple to perform. Since a two-part repair utilizes the same method, the plastic must be cleaned and sanded. To weld, paint must be removed, and holes or grooves are often required to ensure a proper connection.
The hot air is aimed at where the welding rod meets the base material. While the melted lower and higher surfaces of the welding rod and the bumper are pushed together, melted parts are pushed together with a constant pressure after they are melted.
Using hot air for welding requires some practice to become proficient. It is not as simple as using two-part materials. For this reason, it is not the answer for most shops. However, it is an option for technicians seeking to expand their skill set and stand out from the crowd. I-CAR's new PLA-03 plastic repair course offers a variety of techniques, such as nitrogen welding, to help technicians learn the most recent techniques.

Plastic welding training video
In this video learn how plastic welding provides amazing benefits

Economics
Using plastic repair in shops, especially DRP shops, allows them to differentiate themselves from the competition. Everyone knows how critical key performance indicators like average repair cost, repair time, and similar metrics are to insurance companies. Using repair estimates rather than replacement ones on your estimates is a great way to generate business for your business. Saving a bumper, a headlight, or even a windshield washer bottle may determine whether a job arrives at your business or not.
As you improve at plastic repair, you'll see more opportunities to utilize it on various parts. If a part is on national backorder, it may delay your delivery. Your average cycle time metric doesn't inform you that the delay wasn't your fault; it just makes your average cycle time longer. Because some parts can be repaired, your cycle time will appear more attractive than your competitors. Labor hours provide a higher profit margin than parts. On the other hand, shops that replacement parts will lose customers over time.

Additional Plastic
Those plastic components on vehicles are becoming more popular as new CAFE standards take effect. They will likely be costly since aftermarket manufacturers in Taiwan are unlikely to copy those parts that are not considered 'crash parts.' For instance, a Buick Lacrosse automobile's plastic rocker panel trim is nearly $500, and most dings can be quickly fixed. Insurance companies would generally pay several work hours to repair such a part.
Once you've decided to repair more plastic, you must negotiate with your insurer to ensure you're compensated for your time and investment. If you know the replacement cost of a part and want to repair it to make a big profit and save the insurance company a lot of money, you'll be able to hit a home run. Although insurers pay for three hours, you may spend only 30 minutes repairing a part. It's the profit that you must invest in equipment and training to produce that savings opportunity for them. The number of plastic components on the market will only increase over time. Will your business be positioned appropriately to profit from this trend? That's your call.

Hot Staplers
        
hot-stapler-gun
There's a lot of flexing going on here, so let's ensure we don't reinjure the bumper and need to do it all over again. Would you like to protect yourself against that? In this case, the hot stapler is what you need. It uses a stainless steel staple into the plastic, reinforcing the bumper so it can tolerate the flexing when realigning mounting holes and brackets. Staple across the tear almost mimics a door hinge, keeping the pieces together while allowing them to flex.
For example, the hot stapler is also great for making structural repairs on an airbox or headlight assembly. On more expensive Mercedes cars, the clips often snap, and this tool can repair them and restore the strength they had initially. For example, it might be a big money saver on an airbox that is difficult to remove.



Read Next: How To Safely Move Disabled Vehicles In The Body Shop

Are you looking for an Auto Body Repair Equipment Supplier with great reputation, products and pricing? Click here to get a quote.





comments powered by Disqus
Back to content