Exploring the Different Types of Materials Used in an Auto Body Shop
Designing and putting a car or truck on the market takes a lot of planning, technology, and a wide range of materials. There are so many advanced materials used to make a car, from aesthetics to performance — and knowing how to handle them during a collision repair is critical for your body shop’s success.
While collision facilities will continue to work with many familiar materials such as plastic, steel and fiberglass, the latest innovations will continue to bring new material handling challenges. The types of materials used in your auto body shop when you’re working on the latest vehicles can be especially challenging. Advanced auto materials continue to be lighter, more durable, stronger and unfortunately, often difficult to work on in collision procedures.
The demand for improved auto materials increases year after year and body shops are already encountering unfamiliar and complicated body panel and frame materials. From traditional high-strength steel to modern polymers, the list of types of materials used in an auto body shop continues to grow longer — and the challenges of performing safe and accurate collision repairs grow along with it.
The Most Common Materials You’ll See in Your Body Shop
The minimal cost and lower weight of plastics continue to make this auto body material a staple in the industry. Plastic types of materials used in your auto body shop will continue to make up about half of the auto materials your body shop will encounter with a typical collision repair. From door handles and dashboards to accessories and air vents, plastics will continue to be a collision repair requiring up-to-date OEM information.
Read on to learn about common and innovative materials used in an auto body shop and how SUN® Collision Repair Information can help you identify, repair, and replace them accurately and safely.
Changes in the vehicle manufacturing industry from year to year are something body shop owners have contended with for decades. But the advancements in vehicle materials over the last decade have increased exponentially, presenting many hurdles for performing accurate collision repair. Here are the types of materials your body shop will encounter most often for collision repair.
Repairing windshields, mirrors, cameras, infotainment systems, and other vehicle components made with glass will be a part of nearly every collision procedure. But the advancements in how glass is used in auto manufacturing pose some unique challenges for collision repair technicians. The days of simply replacing a windshield after an accident, for example, are over. ADAS components are commonly found in modern vehicle windshields and must be repaired or replaced and recalibrated to exact specifications.
Working with adhesives is nothing new in collision repair, but the latest adhesives used in vehicle manufacturing may be unfamiliar to many repair technicians. Today’s adhesives are very versatile and provide more than only a bond between auto materials. Modern adhesives not only bond different types of materials used in an auto body shop, but they also provide strength and rigidity.
Along with advancements in adhesives, auto manufacturers are also creating new types of fasteners. While mechanical fasteners continue to be a necessity in auto manufacturing, trends like using fasteners with adhesives instead of welds are changing standard collision procedures. Body shops will also continue to encounter riveting that joins aluminum and steel materials, but they must be up-to-date with the latest fastening technology too.
Carbon Fiber and Other Composites
Carbon fiber and other composites present manufacturers with a cost-effective and lightweight alternative to body panels and other parts. Because carbon fiber is stronger and lighter than steel, it is fast becoming one of the most common car body parts materials needing repairs after an accident. OEMs typically dictate whether a particular composite part should be repaired or replaced, so it’s essential to have the most productive, updated collision repair information.
Types of Metals Used in Car Manufacturing
Steel continues to be one of the most common vehicle materials and is used in the chassis, support beams, door panel, engine bay and other areas. Due to its strength, manufacturers continue to rely on steel for most of the frame, but the traditional steel frame is changing. In the ongoing efforts to create lighter vehicles, aluminum and steel combinations are likely to be among the most popular types of metal used in car manufacturing.
Body shops will continue working with traditional metal materials, but the landscape will keep changing, requiring new knowledge and skills for accurate repairs. Here are some of the metals your body shop will likely see in common collision repairs.
Steel is one of the most common materials used in car manufacturing due mostly to its strength. But steel is also cost-effective, widely available, and easy to work with for collision repair. Brakes, wheels, roofs, engines and other car parts will continue to use steel in various forms, from traditional forms to composites.
Aluminum is becoming increasingly popular in vehicle manufacturing because it weighs significantly less than steel and is rust-resistant. The fact that it’s light weight and can be combined with steel in some processes make aluminum highly appealing; however, there is a downside. Aluminum costs more than steel, which is why you often only see it used in higher-end cars. In addition, aluminum is much harder to work on than steel in a collision repair procedure.
One of the types of metal used in car manufacturing since the 70s is magnesium – and it’s enjoying renewed popularity as an alternative to carbon fiber, aluminum and steel. Stronger and lighter than steel, magnesium is also easier to work with than aluminum, which is good news for collision facilities.
Modern Materials Require OEM Collision Repair Solutions
To keep up with the constantly evolving technology in the auto industry, body shops need advanced technology capable of delivering the latest OEM information now. That is why we created a comprehensive database of answers for every type of repair. SUN Collision gives you the tools to handle traditional repairs and the latest innovations with a continually updated database for bumper-to-bumper collision procedures.
Because collision repair software provides the most current OEM information in an easy-to-understand format, professional technicians can confidently work on any material. You’ll find big-picture and detailed repair information for metal composites, high-strength steels, plastics, aluminum and other types of materials used in your auto body shop.
And because we update OEM information constantly, your body shop will be prepared to handle the next wave of vehicle technology with confidence. With the click of a button, you can access materials data, handling procedures and related repairs, including:
Body and Frame Materials
Complete procedures for sectioning procedures, structural adhesives, sensors, trim work and structural repairs. You’ll find up-to-date OEM information for working with the latest materials, from panel removal processes to steel repair matrixes.
Material Painting and Finishing
Whether you’re working on a carbon fiber body panel or a poly bumper, you know the finished look is how many repairs are judged. Performing repairs safely and accurately while keeping up with vehicle technology can be hard work. That’s why it’s important to have the most current information at your fingertips.
The latest OEM information is essential for collision, but there’s nothing like feedback from a professional technician who’s been there and done that. SUN Collision supports your OEM database with real-world insights from millions of actual repairs by professionals. This exclusive content gives technicians the inside scoop on everything from diagnostics to completed repairs for increased productivity and profit.
Collision technicians can access this information at the vehicle using the mobile version of the repair software or on a desktop. From the user-friendly dashboard, technicians can find OEM information arranged in familiar categories such as codes, components, symptoms, and vehicle-specific specifics like YMM.
Our industry-specific search engine, 1Search Plus is where you’ll find all the OEM collision repair information you’ll ever need, and constant updates for when the information inevitably changes. Easy-to-read graphical layouts deliver the latest OEM information that’s logically structured for how technicians typically approach a collision procedure. Because the OEM information, top repairs and other data are integrated, navigation is fast, intuitive and comprehensive to support you at every step of a procedure.
From traditional vehicle materials to the latest hybrids and composites, performing safe and accurate collision repair requires up-to-date OEM information. When you invest in advanced collision repair technology, you can identify the wide range of materials used in cars, perform diagnostics and complete repairs without wasting time. Combined with access to the latest TSBs, recalls and other OEM updates, you’ll have on-demand data no matter how advanced the material.
Let SUN Collision show you how to stay a step ahead of the vehicle technology curve for better collision repair today and tomorrow. Get your free no-obligation demo or talk with a collision repair expert at 877-840-1973 to see how having on-demand OEM information can transform your body shop.
Chris Bonneau is the Business Manager for the SUN Collision product line. He has been in the automotive repair and collision industry since 2006. Chris has served in several roles at Snap-on, including Regional Sales Manager for the Southeast United States and Supervisor of the Mitchell 1 SocialCRM Marketing Services. Chris is also an alumni of San Diego State University.