Aluminum body tools are required for vacuum capture
Lakewood, N.J.—With the aluminum body here to stay, one critical factor that collision repair shops must get right are the tools and attachments used to capture potentially explosive airborne dust. The dust, created mainly during grinding and sanding, can also affect paint quality due to cross-contamination with steel. When it comes to aluminum dust, no vacuum can adequately capture it at its source without specialized shrouds, sanders, and hoses.
Special vacuums called immersion separators are needed to capture and wet potentially explosive, aluminum dust. The best of those direct the air stream and aluminum dust through a series of air filtration baffles that burst the air bubbles to thoroughly wet the dust before the air exits the vacuum. But even these require tool attachments to sufficiently capture the dust at its source and direct it.
To help collision repair shops optimize their safety and performance working with aluminum bodies, here is a tool selection guide for critical shrouds, sanders, and hoses.
Because grinding, cutting, drilling, and routing can launch a large amount of dust in the air, shrouds have long been used to contain the dust as close to the source as possible. But traditional grinding shrouds have some significant limitations in terms of dust capture, operator visibility and precision. Many of these issues have been worked out in the aerospace industry, which has decades of experience with aluminum and composite, and the technology is now transferring to auto collision repair.
“Grinding shrouds are typically very restrictive and cumbersome,” said Mike Donnelly, a composite specialist with decades of experience. “With typical grinders, the shroud is usually opaque or metallic and much larger than the grinding disc rotating inside it, so you can’t see the edge of the rotating disc inside it. This vastly reduces the composite repairman’s view of what he or she is grinding.”
According to Donnelly, a new Clayton grinder shroud design, when used with an appropriate vacuum, has not only enabled the capture of respirable composite dust at its source, but also significantly improved operators’ hand control and view of what they are grinding. Clayton Associates, a manufacturer of source capture tools and vacuum sanding equipment that has dealt with aluminum and composite for over a decade in aerospace, is bringing that expertise to auto body collision repair.
“Before Clayton Clear Revolution grinding shrouds were introduced in Europe, it was virtually impossible to use a die grinder with high precision for composite repair without making a lot of dust,” said Donnelly.
According to Donnelly, because the Clayton dustless grinding shroud system has been designed to be unrestrictive to the user, it is not bolted to the die grinder body or transmission like traditional units. Instead, it is a standalone shroud with a pair of internal precision sealed bearings, which an incorporated mandrel rotates on, and the mandrel shaft locks into the grinder collet. In use, a vacuum dust collection hose attaches to the shroud body. This allows the grinder operator to use the hose as an effective hand-steady, enabling two-handed grinder operation when very fine precision is required.