Jun 29, 2023
Welding 101: What to Know and Where to Begin
In today’s world of advanced vehicle repair, welding can play a central role. Yet, with many welding methods available, which one is right? It’s no secret that vehicle makers and the industries that
In today’s world of advanced vehicle repair, welding can play a central role. Yet, with many welding methods available, which one is right?
It’s no secret that vehicle makers and the industries that supply the materials that make up the fleet on the streets strive to build safer vehicles. This quest drives the automakers and their suppliers to continually research and develop newer, stronger metals (and other materials) and determine the required joining methods for each location in a vehicle structure.
Steel and aluminum are the predominant metals used in body and frame construction of different vehicles. Each alloy or metallurgy comprises its own unique properties designed to perform in that vehicle’s structure to provide “as built” integrity. As such, there are unique considerations for collision repair, particularly in avoiding any adverse effects on future crashworthiness and occupant protection attributes of each vehicle repaired. No stronger, no weaker.
This continued evolution of vehicles comes with the need for the most up-to-date repair attachment methods. Receding in the rear-view mirror are gas flame welding techniques when it comes to collision repair. By definition, welding is the joining of metals or thermoplastics through the introduction of heat to the melting point to join parts. Fusion welding uses similar filler material, and non-fusion methods use filler material that is different than the base materials being joined (brazing/soldering).
Here’s a brief look at some common methods available to our industry today:
Vehicle makers may require specific equipment to participate in their certified networks and may provide more than one option. Welding recommendations/requirements vary widely across the OEMs; one size does not fit all. For instance, STRSW is the preferred or required method for many OEMs, while weld bonding is specified in some procedures, and other variations in the process may be required. Keep in mind too that OEMs may identify other attachment alternatives, such as rivet bonding, for repair attachment.
Is laser welding in your future? Demonstrations at SEMA 2022 included a laser wire-feed welding unit that produced precise weld beads on various metals. While this may not be on any short-term shop equipment requirements list, I-CAR’s technical experts continue to monitor the viability of this and other emerging technologies.
In the interim, I leave you with this question to ponder: Look around your shop or at the claims you’re handling. After your repairs, will these vehicles perform as designed in another collision? That’s the goal. Nothing less.Gas metal arc (GMA)MIG brazingTungsten inert gas (TIG)Squeeze-type resistance spot welding (STRSW)