Aluminum Rivet Bonding

When any vehicle has been damaged structurally due to a heavy collision, and is damaged beyond repair, the parts and panels must be replaced. For a vehicle with aluminum parts, there are some unique considerations. Follow the steps below to prep and bond aluminum rivets.


Use caution when working with aluminum parts. Dedicated cutting tools and abrasives for aluminum must be used to prevent any cross contamination (which could result in galvanic corrosion). Ensure the shop has adequate ventilation to eliminate the risk of explosion.


Panel Preparation

Remove the remaining rivet material from the substrate using an 80 grit abrasive belt.  Prep remaining mating flanges with a coarse grit belt. When grinding steel rivets that are bonded to aluminum, be aware of contamination from metal shavings that must be removed from the repair area to prevent galvanic corrosion. Encouraged practices include vacuuming or wipe down of area.

Aluminum Rivet Bonding Best Practice - Step 1



Mating Flange Panel Preparation

Use a file belt tool with a coarse belt or disc sander with an aggressive woven stripping disc to remove E-coat from replacement panel flange areas. Dry fit new skin or panel; if necessary, straighten the mating flange before applying any adhesives or bonding materials.

Aluminum Rivet Bonding Best Practice - Step 2




Clean the substrate and replacement panel using a lint-free wipe and panel adhesive cleaner.

Aluminum Rivet Bonding Best Practice - Step 3



Rivet Preparation

Based on the rivet type recommended by the manufacturer, evaluate replacement sites and ensure surface is ready for bonding. Remove and store the panel until needed.



Apply Bonding Adhesive

Apply adhesive along the entire bond line on the vehicle and panel, brushing out adhesive where necessary to cover all bare aluminum. You want to ensure 100% coverage for strength and corrosion protection.

Aluminum Rivet Bonding Best Practice - Step 5



Install Replacement Panel

Clamp or rivet panel in place for aluminum repair. Use bonding adhesive with glass beads in them to prevent over clamping. For best results, wipe off excess adhesive while still wet with a lint-free wipe.
This will allow adhesive to build appropriate tensile strength for the bond between the vehicle and the panel.

Note: The full cure time (which is different than the clamp time) for an acrylic metal bonder is typically 8 hours. The full cure time for an epoxy panel bonder is typically 24 hours.

Aluminum Rivet Bonding Best Practice - Step 6




Install Rivets and Welds

Before adhesives have cured, begin installing rivets based on OEM recommendations. Welding of cosmetic joints based on OEM standards can be done while adhesives are still wet.

Note that after rivets have been installed, it may be necessary to remove excess adhesive from panel that may have been squeezed out during this step. Completing this process while adhesives are still wet may avoid unnecessary grinding, which could expose bare aluminum and result in galvanic corrosion.


image courtesy of I-Car®




Post Assembly Foam Replacement

To determine if flexible or rigid urethane foam is required, refer to OEM specifications.

Aluminum Rivet Bonding Best Practice - Step 8


You have now successfully completed the structural repair on the vehicle, and next steps are the painting process and clean and detail before for customer delivery. 

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