What is the origin of the PDR?
Here's how the PDR technique originated
The most frequently asked question of anyone who hears about PDR for the first time – immediately after understanding how the cold repair technique works – is: who invented it? And again, when? Without wanting to write an exhaustive and detailed compendium, we have decided to share with our customers and partners a very brief historical overview that illuminates the origins of this valuable repair technique.
Frank T. Sargent, the inventor
According to historical sources credited by some in the industry, PDR is said to have been invented by Frank T. Sargent who, in 1931, put his discoveries about cold sheet metal working down on paper in a booklet entitled ‘The Key To Metal Bumping‘. In the booklet, Sargent describes the tools that are needed to apply the technique, how to put it into practice and visually illustrates – with photos – the movements of the sheet metal following its use.
Oskar Flaig and the first live demonstration
Thirty years later it was Oskar Flaig who gave the first ‘live’ demonstration, in front of an audience at the ‘International Motor Sports Show’ in New York, now called SEMA . His was not an intentional performance, but a consequence of the role that the company he worked for – Mercedes Benz – had entrusted him with on that occasion: to take care of the painting of all Mercedes cars at the show. This entailed, for Mr Flaig, repainting at night, every night, all the scratches and dents that the vehicles suffered daily at the hands of visitors to the exhibition so that they would be shiny and flawless the next day. To save time, Flaig experimented with various types of intervention and realised at one point that some of the dents on which he had used the hammer looked perfect even before he applied the paint.
The PDR in Europe
This led him, once back in Germany, to further develop this technique to perfection. The results were so successful that he was promoted to foreman at the workshop where he worked and earned him the nickname ‘the golden tinsmith‘. The next step was to explain and teach in all other Mercedes branches what had turned out to be – for practical advantages and for all to see – a revolutionary technique.
The 'landing' in America and international success
This was the beginning of the success of the PDR technique, which quickly spread throughout the country and later, when a number of technicians emigrated to the USA, throughout the rest of the world, starting right from the Minneapolis plants. It was there that one of them, Juergen Holzer (BMW stable), founded Dent Kraft, the first registered business in the world to officially use the paintless, cold dent repair technique. The rest is history.
A history that we at EuroHailstorm are proud to be part of. Specialising in cold hail damage repair throughout Europe, our hail repair technicians use the PDR technique to restore hailed cars to their original appearance, restoring calm after the storm.