The future apprentice needs to have a good understanding of technical matters, to enjoy working metal and to be responsible as well as persevering. A good visual appreciation, the sense of shapes and manual aptitude as well as teamwork spirit and independence are also a plus. The completion of compulsory schooling is required. Good marks in mathematics, geometry and technical drawing will make the initiation to practical and theoretical work easier. Successful candidates shall receive a federal certificate of capacity (CFC) with the title of panel beater. Duration of the apprenticeship: 4 years, comprised of 4 days of work and 1 day of school per week.
The numerous body shapes represent a daily challenge for the panel beater. His tasks are to :
- Repair damaged bodies and restore their original shape using specialized (traditional or alternative) repair and measure equipment.
- Replace the segments which are damaged beyond repair with new parts or “home-made” parts
- Remove rust, which usually implies making special metal parts and welding them together
- Personalize a vehicle by adding parts (spoiler, wings enlarger, etc) or modifying the overall body shape
- Restore classic cars often requiring to create entire body elements
- Repair and replace damaged windshields
- Repair fiber glass or plastic elements
The panel beater collaborates with painters and sometimes with mechanics as well.
The successive stages of a vehicle repair are the following:
Evaluate the cost of the repair and – when required – of the new parts. Unassemble all the necessary parts (bumper, mechanical elements, etc.)
The repair process involves various techniques, such as dismantling, repairing, removing dents on the various elements of the body (hood, wings, roof, doors, etc), the use a car bench to repair the structure elements, assembly and fitting of parts.
A conscientious work ethic, perseverance, manual aptitude, the sense of shapes and colors as well as good drawing skills are the main qualities required to become an apprentice painter. Independence, reliability and teamwork spirit are also necessary. The completion of compulsory schooling is required to become a painter apprentice. Successful candidates shall receive a federal certificate of capacity (CFC) with the title of painter. Duration of the apprenticeship: 4 years, comprised of 4 days of work and 1 day of school per week.
Painters intervene after the panel beaters, most of the time to give new life to damaged cars.
The painter’s task is to :
- Maintain car paint, with the help of polish, Teflon treatments, etc.
- Redo time-damaged paints or realize decorative paint jobs (inscriptions, drawings or other special effects)
- Give back to the vehicle its original allure, favouring adherence and anti-rust protection according to the type of the material (aluminum, iron, plastic, etc)
- When the vehicle comes straight from the bodyshop, the painter needs to smooth out the repaired part, by adding a sealant and a surfacer, that will subsequently be sanded, to correct any last tiny defaults and to fully isolate the various layers.
The successive stages of a paint job are the following :
- Cleaning and rust removing to smooth out all surfaces
- Protect the surfaces that shouldn’t be painted
- Seal the defaults to eliminate irregularities
- Thorough clean the various elements to obtain a perfectly clean surface, ready to apply the various coating layers
- Spray an isolating under-coat that will help the subsequent layers to adhere properly to the metal
- Sand this under-coat to render a smooth surface, ready to apply the finishing paint
The paint preparation
- Identify the right colour with the help of a spectrophotometer
- Mix the defined colours (to the tenth of a gram) to obtain the exact vehicle colour
- Checking and finetune the result
Spraying and drying
- Spray the required number of layers in a spray booth
- Dry the vehicle in the same booth
- Apply anti-rust treatments
- Touch-up and polish any remaining small imperfections
The surface preparation stages are key to obtaining a perfect final result. They require repetitive and delicate work.