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Maximizing Your Efficiency as a Prep Technician: Tips and Tricks

Working in the prep department of a collision repair shop can be a challenging and rewarding career, but it’s not uncommon for technicians to acquire their skills and knowledge through on-the-job experience rather than formal training. If you’re a prep technician looking to take your work to the next level, or if you’re just starting out and want to set yourself up for success, here are a few simple tips to follow:

Use guidecoat for everything: Applying a guide coat after each sanding operation ensures that your prep work is uniformly the correct grit. Properly sanding primer is a crucial part of the job, and nothing will frustrate your painter more than having to deal with scratches or imperfections in the booth. Keep guidecoat within easy reach, as it will become an essential tool in your daily routine.

Refuse poor bodywork: It can be tempting to try to help out a colleague by covering up their mistakes with primer, but this is a recipe for disaster. Body filler repairs should be straight, free of pinholes, and ideally finished with a grit of 180 (as verified with guidecoat). If you come across poor bodywork, it’s better to address the issue upfront rather than letting it cause problems down the line.

Know your products: Tech sheets are readily available for virtually any product used in a collision repair shop, and they will provide you with all the information you need to know about the products you’re using. Don’t rely on others to answer questions about primer or other products – take the time to familiarize yourself with the tech sheets and you’ll be able to work with confidence and efficiency.

Dedicate some off-time to learning: It can be tempting to just want to relax and forget about work after a long day in the shop, but investing a little bit of time in your own education can pay off in the long run. Manufacturer websites often have a wealth of information available, including tech tips, substrate-specific procedures, product launches, and training modules. There are also online forums where skilled painters are happy to offer advice and share their experiences.

Protect yourself: Working in the prep department can be tough on your health, especially if you develop bad habits. It’s your employer’s responsibility to provide you with protective equipment such as respirators and gloves, and you should always wear hearing protection when possible. Take your health seriously and don’t take shortcuts when it comes to safety.

Use the correct primer value: Using the wrong shade of primer can add unnecessary steps to the painting process, especially when working with transparent colors like red, blue, or yellow. Most paint manufacturers have a system in place to help you choose the correct greyscale shade of primer, so make sure you’re taking advantage of it.

In conclusion, an honest evaluation of your skills and process can help you reach your goals as a prep technician more quickly. Whether you want to increase your output or reduce your stress level, there are plenty of resources available to help you improve. And if your ultimate goal is to become a painter, demonstrating initiative and a thorough understanding of the painting process can help you move up the ladder.

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