Gluing a car together has been the method of automotive assembly for a long time. It’s just the “glue” used may have been welds, rivets, or bolts. In recent years actual liquid/chemical glue has been used for autobody assembly and repair. Most modern vehicles driving around on the road have some sort of permanently bonded panels that hold it together. Now we aren’t saying entire cars are held together ONLY with panel bond or “glue”; but it is common place these days. So the real question is should you use panel bond over welding a repair panel into place on your vehicle? We cover the differences below and Pros and Cons.
Clean Metal- No matter how you’re attaching metal together the surfaces should be as clean as possible. The only difference is that welding does having a slight saving grace in that it the heat from the welding process can burn small impurities out of the joint when welding. Panel bonding requires nearly surgically clean metal and can fail or cause paint issues if it isn’t prepped properly before bonding panels together. No matter what we suggest clean the metal thoroughly before welding or panel bonding.
Dissimilar Materials- There’s no two ways about it; panel bonding or structural adhesives win here. If you’re repairing a vehicle with composite materials like fiberglass, carbon fiber, Kevlar, etc. than you can’t just fire your MIG welder up and go to town. This also stands true for dissimilar metals like joining aluminum to steel. Sure you can “braze” metal but that isn’t structural.
Skill Level- Welding does take some practice and skill and every job is different. This means you need to be pretty good with a welder to get a quality weld and not damage the metal more than when you started. Panel Bond introduces no heat and most brands come with a 1:1 Mixer cartridge that puts out the perfect amount of panel bond and activator onto your mixing board. This means all you have to do is fully mix the parts together and apply it to the panel seams.
Investment- With welding they’re definitely is an upfront investment to buying a welder, gas bottle, helmet, etc. but you can use it over and over again and normal consumables are all that you will have to pay for. But with panel bonding you just need the panel bond itself ($30-75) and some mixing supplies. This makes panel bonding for applicable repair cheaper, but some repairs require both welding and panel bond.
Metal Distortion- Welding creates heat and fuses the pieces of metal together to make them one again. This heat causes warping or distortion and needs to be reversed with a hammer and dolly and takes some skill to get perfect again. This is where panel bond is superior in that it causes no distortion since no real heat is introduced. If you step the repair panel correctly you can lap the metal and create a flush repair that would require the same or less body filler than a welded panel that has distorted from the heat.
As with any repair you need to weigh the options and use the method that makes the most sense and is the safest and strongest. We don’t suggest using panel bond on structural repairs like chassis or similar; but many manufacturers are using it to put together truck beds, roof skins, quarter panels and more in conjunction with a few spot welds. To shop our entire panel bonding offerings visit our site HERE.