Abrasives may represent only 4% of the total spend on a body repair, but they account for 40% of the process and affect 100% of the job, meaning they play a vital role in efficient, high-quality repairs on cars.
As vehicle technology and materials become more advanced, so do abrasives, which has led to an abrasive revolution in the past decade. This has gone hand in hand with businesses making a steady investment in the products they use and change in the way they see and use abrasives.
From a technological point of view, abrasives have evolved for a couple of reasons. The first is the fact that they are changing in line with the jobs on the workshop floor; the second is because vehicle substrates are constantly evolving, and this leads to the constant tweaking of processes by abrasive manufacturers to ensure the best possible product is being provided.
These technological changes have been driven by the demands of the marketplace, and communication between manufacturers and repairers plays a key part in fulfilling this development. Technical specialists are always in contact with end-users to understand their needs so that the right abrasive options are introduced and insights gathered and this information is then given to research and development teams.
With abrasive technology evolving and a stronger focus on employee health and safety, there has also been a push for dust-free sanding. Abrasives are evolving at such a rapid rate, but a key constant is that businesses are continually looking for dust-free sanding. Businesses recognise the dangers associated with the dust that is produced and they want to protect their workforce, customers and their end product through the provision of a dust-free workshop environment.
Since the launch of dust-free solutions some 20 years ago there has been a constant demand for these products and this will not change any time soon.
Previously, abrasives were not seen as a quality item and this led to a lot of wastage, but in recent years there has been a renewed effort to change this perception and to help businesses reduce waste.
This has partly been achieved by workshop demonstrations to introduce technicians to high-quality abrasives which can provide the same end result from first usage to last.
This education programme benefits the user because they see the advantages of the abrasive while also understanding how to make the most out of it. This, in turn, changes the way abrasives are viewed and many businesses have now moved away from a “Buy-cheap- buy-twice” mentality to paying for quality products that improve performance and productivity.
Where the market is heading for abrasives is an area that is open for debate. In the current climate there is a concerted move away from the one-size-fits-all option for abrasives to a fuller circular approach that includes quality abrasives and a support network that ensures repairers have the right product for the job at hand.
In the future, innovation will continue to lead the way in abrasives development. Manufacturers need to be agile and flexible to anticipate market demands and align with the new processes, technologies, and materials that repairers will encounter in their body shops.