Plastic Repair: Tips and tricks from the pros

Robaina Direct

By Tom Davis

Peterborough, Ontario —  October 25, 2017 — Repairing plastic parts on a vehicle has often been avoided by those in the collision repair industry, but as attitudes have changed so has the sector’s view on plastic repair. This negative stigma towards plastic repair meant many working within the industry held the view that plastic car parts should be replaced once damaged, rather than repaired.

With attitudes towards plastic repair changing, Bodyworx Professional magazine sat down with Bryan Robaina, Manager of Robaina Direct, to hear some of his top tips and tricks when it comes to plastic repair.

First Step

The first step to any successful plastic repairs is to determine what type of plastic the bumper, or specific part of the car, is made from. If the technician is unsure, Robaina comments that they can always refer to OEM work instructions and bulletins. He says: “Worst case scenario one can always use our chemical PolymixProducts.com repair adhesives to repair most plastics.” He comments this is an “easy and worry-free” method. Going back to plastic welding, the next critical step is preparing the area. The area being repaired needs to be chemically cleaned and sanded down to remove any debris which will allow for a smooth repair and finish, bringing the vehicle back to its pre-damage standard.

If warming up the bumper for some basic reshaping is needed, do that before you begin the welding process of the repair. Welding is one of the most common techniques when it comes to plastic repair. Robaina comments that a critical technique to welding is for a technician to hold the rod perpendicular, before slowly bending it up towards them while keeping the heat gun part of plastic welder within one half inch to an inch away from the actual welding rod and base material (the bumper). Remember that it is equally as important to evenly heat both the welding rod and the bumper in which it is fusing into. This helps the weld penetrate about 50% into the plastic. Robaina says you definitely do not want to go through the bumper so use caution. Keeping it simple, the basic professional version would use a shop airline plugged in and 110 volt power to get you up welding plastic in less than five minutes. Robaina recommends the company’s newest A-PWT-01-31844 pocket welder, which makes plastic welding efficient and affordable.

{source}
<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/229817149″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/229817149″>MWMtools.com Nitrogen Plastic soldering &quot;DOUBLE GAS PLASTIC WELDER&quot; – Repairing a cut</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/mwmtools”>MWM</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
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Advanced Nitrogen Welding

Welding with nitrogen allows for more precise and stronger repairs, but the procedures can be more complicated that other welding techniques. Nitrogen welding combines bottled nitrogen gas (unless you have Robaina’s newest P/N A-PRP-01-31871 nitrogen welder nitrogen welder, which has an onboard generator) with a hot air welder, which creates a stronger weld than the standard air weld. The product does this by using the nitrogen gas as a “shielding gas” to flush the water and oxygen out of the welding area. “Technicians can simply melt a strip into the bumper to repair it and leave it as strong as it was before,” says Robaina.

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<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/229818151″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/229818151″>MWMtools.com Plastic Welding with built in Nitrogen Generator &quot;SINGLE GAS PLASTIC WELDER&quot; – Buttonhole Reconstruction</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/mwmtools”>MWM</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
{/source}

Adhesives

The question of repair-or-replace, when it comes to plastic materials, has been answered by the newest adhesive products, many of which can repair most plastic damages. Robaina also points towards the hot stapler as one of the most effective methods. Hot staplers can be used to secure the edge of certain plastic parts. “Depending on the type of damage, typically the edge of a part is where we use hot staples used to secure the repair,” said Robaina. Easily-removable pre-cut staples can be hot pressed into the part to secure and help repair any tears or breaks on a plastic part. Hot staplers can either be integrated into the plastic welder itself or available separately like Robaina Direct’s Riplastic kit B-PRP-01-31080.

As soon as the hot staple is in, you’d move into plastic chemical welding in this instance. Start with a one-minute Polymix if you are repairing tabs. Robaina says: “If you are repairing a ‘face’ area of the bumper you’ll want to consider a flexible weld using our PolymixProducts.com A-PRP-01-PL.3005.200, which is specifically designed to flex, expand and contract.” This is an area where you do not want a rigid weld from a one-minute chemical repair. Once you’ve properly repaired the area, you’ll move into sanding then into the skim coat process. It gives you the ability to have the smooth surface when using a contour film, as shown in the video. Robaina comments you would use the Polymix Skim coat in place of “body filler or bondo”, which has pin hole issues in many cases not to mention contour mapping possibilities due to dissimilar plastic materials.

Plastic Chemical Welding and Adhesives Video
{source}
<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/189598517″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/189598517″>PolymixProducts.com Automotive adhesives, plastic repair, skim coats, urethane foam, seam sealers and metal panel bonding</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/ecorepairsystems”>Eco Repair Systems</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
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Hot Stapler Video
{source}
<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/229818412″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/229818412″>RIPLASTIC – Hot Stapler Plastic Repair Tool</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/mwmtools”>MWM</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
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Drilling for Bumper Parking Sensors

One of the more recent innovations in plastic repair that technicians should look out for are bumper parking sensors. In many modern cars, parking sensors have been added into front and back bumpers to help drivers measure the distance to nearby objects. Drill kits allow technicians to drill a hole into the bumper and remove the parking sensor in order for it to avoid damage during the bumper’s repair. Now many vehicle manufactures provide the bumpers without the sensor holes, so this becomes rather useful and essential. The kit shown is part number B-PRP-01-30607.

{source}
<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/232265504″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/232265504″>Drill Kit for Parking Sensors MWMtools-com part number B-PRP-01-30607</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/mwmtools”>MWM</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
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As with any job in the collision industry, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of repair-or-replace. It’s possible that replacing a plastic part unnecessarily increase the severity of repair for many of the more affordable and older models of vehicles, while for more expensive cars or more complicated procedures a plastic repair once again will be the way to go. Either way, customers should relish in the fact that technicians will get their car back to new, whether its through ordering a new part or repairing the plastic.

To learn more about plastic repair or the products that Robaina Direct supplies, please visit its website at robaina.direct or NitrogenWelder.com.

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