Panel beating refers to the process of restoring a car to its original shape, either as a part of the repair project or after an automobile accident. Some panel beating companies specialize in the repair of vintage vehicles, while others deal only with smash repairs.
Panel beating is a highly labor-intensive process, involving different techniques in removing dents, shaping panels to align with the original contours, smoothing, resurfacing and finally spray painting the damaged parts. Panel beating companies may also carry out minor dent repairs and can re-align a car after an accident.
With professional panel beating and spray painting, it is very difficult to notice if a smashed car has been repaired. But to get the best results, it’s advisable to choose a reputable company. If you are planning to take your car for repair after an accident, knowing the following panel beating process may help you to identify the right company.
Panel Beating Process
Stretching and shrinking: When a given panel on the car’s body gets dented, the affected metal would lose its original dimensions. The metal is shrunk and stretched back to its original contours by applying heat to its surface and then hammering it with a special hammer. This technique focuses on restoring the original contours and dimensions of the damaged panel.
Planishing: This metalworking technique involves finely shaping the surface panel to give it a smooth finish. The damaged metal is pressed against a dolly and then hit with a special hammer to restore the original shape. The dolly’s shape must align with the metal’s original contours, and hence they come in a wide range of shapes.
Welding: Welding helps to reinforce the car structure and restore its strength by joining pieces of metal together. The kind of joint used would be determined by the type and shape of materials to be welded.
Filling: In some cases, putty filler may be used to restore the original contours of the panel. With filling, a paste is mixed and then applied to the car surface. After a couple of minutes, the filler will harden, thereby setting the ground for smoothing and shaping.
Sanding: There is a wide range of sanding techniques based on the panel repair stage. The sanding pad texture is determined by the expected result. The sanding procedure can either be wet or dry and is used to reshape the panel’s contour and prepare its surface for painting.
Car Spray painting: During this process, the repaired panel is spray-painted with a high quality paint that can resist chipping. First, the surface is primed and then prepared to a smooth finish to ensure that the car paint adheres well. Spraying is performed in a clean and dust-free environment. The common machine used in automotive spray painting is called the air spray gun. Automotive spray paint has become popular today because it provides superior evenness, speed, finish and professional touch.
Realignment: This involves the use of a hydraulic lift to ensure all mechanical parts, such as the chassis, are properly aligned. This is very important as the vehicle’s undercarriage might have also sustained some damage from the collision impact.