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Total Panel Repair and Replacement Solutions from 3M
Body repair technicians have one thing in common: their commitment to deliver a perfect repair. 3M provides easy-to-access, easy-to-view standard operating procedures (SOPs), technical tips, in-depth articles and more. From small dent repair to panel bonding, from door skins to weld sealing, from express repairs to large panel replacement, you’ll find ways to help fuel that commitment and expertise for you and your entire shop.
3M helps ensure that you’re using the best techniques and tools for a full range of panel repair and replacement jobs. You’ll find clear, step-by-step procedures for basic metal repairs as well as specific jobs such as door panel replacement and panel bonding.
3M provides vital tips that support the grinding, bonding, sanding and finishing required for panel repair. Our experts can help you achieve excellent appearance, long-term performance and shop efficiency. Check them out right here.
Achieving a smooth, well-prepared metal surface is more challenging when repairing larger auto panels. The 3M SOPs for Large Damage Repair provide the steps for prepping, filling, sanding and inspecting repairs where the original paint layer has been broken and the damage includes significant denting. This SOP is available in English and Spanish.
View Large Damage Repair Standard Operating Procedure
Less complicated than large damage repair, small damage repair involves fewer steps and a more streamlined process. The 3M SOP for Small Damage Repair shows procedures for repairs from rough to paint shop ready. These SOPs are available in English and Spanish for both aluminum and traditional materials.
The basics for success in any body repair shop – express repairs, or removing minor dents and dings from panels where paint hasn’t been compromised. Check out 3M SOPs for small damage areas.
English Download: Express Damage Repair (PDF, 164 KB)
As much as any other job, door panel repair requires extra care to avoid damage and rework. These best practices can help make the entire repair smooth and efficient.
English Download: Door Skin Removal (PDF, 175 KB)
These 3M resources for replacing door panels will help you restore the vehicle’s appearance – as well as its safety and corrosion protection – to OEM standards.
English Download: Door Skin Replacement (PDF, 179 KB)
3M SOPs for Panel Bonding provide best practices for pre-fitting, cutting, panel prep and installation when following OEM recommendations for panel bonding adhesives.
English Download: Panel Bonding Excluding Door Skin (PDF, 155 KB)
Spanish Download: Panel Bonding Excluding Door Skin (PDF, 229 KB)
High-strength steel demands its own best practices for repair jobs. These SOPs cover removal, weld prep, reassembly and more.
English Download: Steel Part Replacement (PDF, 187 KB)
In itself, using welding and spark protection is a best practice to keep your work safe and clean. Here is how to use welding and spark deflection protection paper and welding drapes.
English Download: Welding and Spark Protection (PDF, 136 KB)
Spanish Download: Welding and Spark Protection (PDF, 137 KB)
Effectively removing creases and dents without further damaging the panel is big challenge for smooth, efficient metal repair. Here are 3M SOPs to help the process.
English Download: Metal Working (PDF, 192 KB)
A critical step in panel replacement: here are the best tools for removing previous seam sealers or coatings for effective metal prep.
English Download: Sealer Coating Removal (PDF, 147 KB)
Get more process guides. Download the full SOP books for these three areas.
Below are the answers to some of the most common questions – and specific challenges – that 3M hears from auto repair metal shops worldwide. These quick tips are just the start. If you need more in-depth information, click the link below each tip.
Customer Challenge: OEMs are using high-strength steel, making it more difficult and time-consuming to remove spot welds during panel replacement. What’s the best solution?
Technical Tip: File belts are a fast and efficient way to remove spot welds, even on challenging substrates. Using file belts vs. drilling or spot weld cutting tends to providing technicians a more efficient, controlled method with less fatigue, while helping reduce damage to host panels. The narrow profile of the file belt also makes it much easier to remove hard-to-reach spot welds. 3M recommends using 3M™ Cubitron™ II File Belts, available in 36+, 60+ and 80+ grades. 3M also offers 3M™ File Belt Sanders for Body Repair, PN 33573 (13”) and 33575 (18”).
Customer Challenge: Should I apply body fillers and glazes from paint edge to paint edge?
Technical Tip: Applying body fillers and glazes across the repair area can result in repair mapping. Typically repair mapping occurs when the technician applies body filler or glazes over an open base coat feather-edge. Repair mapping may not be obvious at first – the final repair may appear uniform before the vehicle leaves the shop. Over time and as the coatings thoroughly cure, a visible line may appear where the filler has overlapped the base coat feather-edge. This can lead to customer dissatisfaction and costly comebacks. You can prevent repair mapping by removing paint coatings 2 to 4 inches beyond the repair area and avoiding the application of body filler and glazes beyond the base coat edge.
For express repairs not requiring grinding or paint removal, 3M supports the application of filler or glaze over paint, as long as the paint is only scuffed, not broken into underlying layers, i.e. base coat, primer, etc. For specific process details, refer to our Express Damage Repair SOP (PDF, 168 KB).
For large damage repairs, refer to our Large Damage Repair SOP (PDF, 180 KB).
Customer Challenge: Dust from sanding operations can lead to extensive cleaning, detailing, and buffing. It also settles in vehicles and creates a messy environment throughout the shop. What is the best method for keeping dust out of the air?
Technical Tip: 3M recommends using multi-hole abrasives such as 3M™ Cubitron II™ Clean Sanding Abrasives, paired with best-in-class dust extraction like the Total Automotive Sanding System. Additionally, dust can be controlled with general hygiene practices like always wiping panels prior to blow-gun usage and washing vehicles prior to masking operations. This should help encourage a cleaner, safer, more efficient and profitable shop environment.
Customer Challenge: When should structural adhesives be used?
Technical Tip: There are many factors that can affect an individual repair, so the technician and repair facility need to evaluate each specific application and repair process and determine what’s appropriate. 3M recommends referring to relevant vehicle repair and OEM guidelines prior to starting all repairs. When following OEM recommendations, using structural adhesives can deliver many benefits including corrosion protection, consistent load distribution and joining of dissimilar substrates. Structural adhesives are typically used in conjunction with mechanical fasteners or welds. 3M™ Impact Resistant Structural Adhesive (IRSA) is one of the few adhesives designed specifically to meet the demands of collision absorption in OEM-specified structural bonding applications.
Customer Challenge: Some of my technicians have been having issues with welder sputter when MIG welding. What’s the cause and what can I do?
Technical Tip: It’s important to evaluate the preparation of the material to be welded – either cleaning, removal of previous coatings, or weld-through primer. 3M supplies a product called 3M™ Weld-Thru II Coating, commonly used as corrosion protection between two mating surfaces before welding. 3M recommends removal of this coating at the immediate weld site to ensure proper weld quality and reduce/eliminate sputtering.