How to Repair Broken Plastic Tabs

When working on metal it is quite easy to repair broken or damage tabs or brackets. You simply clean the metal, fire up your favorite Eastwood welder and melt the metal back together. You get a strong repair that will last forever. When repairing broken plastic it isn’t that easy. Sure you can melt it up and stick it back together but it won’t have any rigidity and will fail again at the repair. With more and more vehicles using mostly plastic for assembly we wanted to show how you can permanently repair broken plastic tabs, brackets or other plastic parts on your vehicle.

Here we’re starting with a plastic headlight and bucket that has broken tabs from accident damage. Luckily the light itself is in good shape and just needs some tabs repaired. The star tool of this job is the Eastwood Plastic Stapler. This tool heats stainless staples of different shapes that can be melted or “welded” into the plastic and bridges the repair. Start by turning the stapler controller to the desired heat. For softer, thinner plastics like found in interior parts use the low setting. As the plastic gets thicker and “harder” use a higher setting. For this project we will be using the high setting.

You can now choose the stainless staple that best fits the area your working. There are V-shaped staples, W shaped staples, and staples for corners. You want the face of the staple to bridge evenly across the break or crack. If possible use multiple staples across the crack and even use staples on both sides of the plastic to give the ultimate support. Insert the staple into the small holes in the end of the wand. The staple then completes the circuit and will heat as you press the button in on the wand. You will see a small intial puff of steam/smoke from the end of the staple as it burns any residue from manufacturing off. Once that happens the staple is hot enough to melt into the plastic.

With the button still pressed on the wand you can press the staple into the plastic. Push it into the plastic until it sinks about halfway in and let off of the button on the wand. Keep pressure on the clip for 10-15 seconds to allow the plastic to solidify again. You can then pull the wand off of the staple.

You can then repeat the process until the entire cracked area is braced with staples. You will now have the tails of each staple sticking out from the surface. You can use a set of wire cutters to cut the ends flush with the surface and you will have a strong repair. This method will work on soft plastic bumpers, broken grills, damaged interior parts and pretty much anything plastic you need to repair. Add a skim coat of plastic body filler over repaired areas to fill imperfections and sand it smooth for a flawless repair.

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