Auto Body Shops Seek Certification for Aluminum Body Repair Enclosures

Ford has invested a great deal into the streamlined manufacturing process of the upcoming model of the Ford F-150 (which will be released late Fall 2014), which will have an aluminum body, bed and support system – this requires the need for an aluminum body repair enclosures. This F-150 is created with aluminum to create a vehicle that is 700 lbs lighter and more fuel efficient than its predecessors, paving the way for future vehicle manufacturers to follow suit. This is a substantial adjustment for those collision repair shops that need to prepare for the repairs of the most popular truck in the nation.

This wave of excitement has caused several of these auto body shops to move into the next phase of certification; implementing training, specialized equipment, and re-configuring current auto repair areas to facilitate a designated aluminum repair room. While there are costs to implement special equipment, designated car & truck repair workspace, and train employees on working with aluminum car and truck bodies, using aluminum car & truck repair curtain enclosures will create a cost-effective and relatively quick resolution to the issue of proper separation of body shop areas.

When Safety Meets Science: Metallurgy & Safety Precautions

While many skeptics may consider this aluminum body enclosure implementation to be a preference, scientists and engineers are aware that separating the aluminum body repair area from the rest of the steel body repair enclosures is necessary for safety. Although there may be isolated cases in which aluminum and steel can coincide in the same area, in most cases, they are at risk of what is called “galvanic corrosion.”

The Process of Galvanic Corrosion

All metals have what is called different “electrode potentials” – this is basically defined as each and every cell of the different metals have a hydrogen electrode and a potential electrode which can be re-defined by its circumstances. With aluminum and steel alloys, one metal will act as an anode (the positively charged electrode) and one metal will act as a cathode (negatively charged electrode). The result of an “anodized” metal and a “cathodized” metal in contact with each other is galvanic corrosion, where the steel or steel alloy will corrode the aluminum. In a sense, this is how a battery works – the anode is the positive side, and the cathode is the negative side. But the reaction in a battery is acceptable, as it is this same reaction that causes the battery to work. However, in an aluminum car or aluminum truck body, the results could mean damage to the integrity of the structure. This damage will most possibly result in additional resources of material and manpower spent to correct an issue, which could have been prevented by putting up an aluminum auto body repair enclosure.

An example of galvanic corrosion in a real world setting is the U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship Independence. This combat vessel has steel water jet propulsion systems attached to an aluminum hull. Since there is no isolation measures that exist between the steel system and aluminum hull, the aluminum acts as the anode and the steel acts as the cathode, creating a fairly aggressive stage for a galvanic reaction to occur. The severe corrosion has drastically impacted the structural integrity of this ship, causing extensive repairs to a multi-million dollar government vessel.

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The Importance of Separated Vehicle Repair Areas

With the scientific breakdown of the galvanic reaction and a real-world example of an aggressive reaction at work, it is important to keep these areas separate which deal with metals that react with one another. In order to prevent a costly mistake, aluminum body repair enclosures help an area meet regulated standards of safety.

Since aluminum is more reactive a metal than steel and steel alloys, the grinding, sanding, welding, and general repairs of aluminum vehicles require a curtain enclosure made specifically for containing aluminum auto repair areas. Keeping costs down is important, so aluminum car repair enclosures with industrial curtains in place of walls are an ideal solution. The aluminum auto body curtain walls are flexible and retractable, fire retardant and can be easily cleaned with a pressure washing sprayer. The PVC Coating and/or PVC lamination on the aluminum car / truck repair curtains create a surface that can be washed down as needed and also serve as an effective protection barrier with flying shrapnel, dust, contaminants, sparks, and other hazards of the vehicle body shop work environment.

Projections into an Aluminum Car Future

There have been projections into the future that aircraft grade aluminum will be used more often in the future for cars and trucks. Shops need to invest today in the necessary items and prepare themselves accordingly, or they will be at a crippling disadvantage. Investing money into an aluminum body enclosure curtain wall system allows for customizations specific to car repairs.