A Dual-Action Polisher is a paint correction tool that uses a circular motion combined with an oscillating motion to create a balanced dual-action. This dual motion is useful when polishing a vehicle’s painted surface by machine. The Dual-Action Polisher is incredibly safe and easy to work with, making it perfect for beginners, enthusiasts, and professionals of all skill levels.
How Does Dual-Action Work?
The Dual-Action Polisher by design uses a double motion for polishing the paint. The polisher not only spin’s the backing plate in a circular motion around its axle, but it also has an off-center connection that makes the backing plate “oscillate” at the same time. This oscillation creates tiny circular motions while rotating on its axle. This dual motion mimics the movement most people make when they are polishing by hand. While polishing or applying wax by hand, studies have found that people make small circular motions while moving from left to right, forward or backward. If you changed the left and right movement into a circular motion, you would basically be making the same pattern as the Dual-Action Polisher.
Dual-Action, DA, Random Orbital
The Dual-Action Polisher has several names. All of which describe the same machine but emphasizes a different feature or technical jargon of its individual parts. The most common terms are:
- Dual-Action Polisher
- DA Polisher
- Random Orbital Polisher
- Off-Center Polisher
- Buffer (this is technically not correct)
- Excentrical Polisher
- Multi-Action Polisher
What’s The Difference Between DA Polishers?
The main mechanical difference between all DA polishers is the setup for the dual-action movement. The other common differences among the machines are:
- Machine Wattage, Amps, or Power
- Minimum or Maximum Backing Plate Size
- Speed Control Settings Switch
- Weight of Machine
- Minimum and Maximum Speed of Rotation
- Machine Throw (Distance of the “Oscillating” Motion)
Forced Dual-Action Rotation
In this machine setup, the dual-action motion is forced. Meaning that the backing plate will only move in an excentric motion if it moves at all. The forced dual-action rotation is not capable of moving without the orbital movement. This becomes very useful if you want to have more control over the cutting power or when you need extra power to work with. Unfortunately, however, it also increases the risk of doing damage to the paintwork surface. Because the polishing pad’s motion is forced, it will keep making its dual motion, even if the heat (caused by increased pressure) becomes too high. It will completely tear itself or the paintwork apart if not controlled and operated by an experienced detailer. So it is highly recommended to only use this type of machine after having experience with machine polishing.
Free Dual-Action Rotation
In the Free Dual-Action setup, the mechanism that creates the dual-action motion is connected via a bearing. This bearing prevents the backing plate from being forced to make the circular motion. The axle will still turn; however, the bearing allows the axle to turn without forcing the backing plate to turn with it. Due to the centripetal force created, the backing plate will still vibrate. Meaning there is still some form of motion taking place. Think of it more or less as a safety mechanism because if there is too much pressure applied, the backing plate and polishing pad will stop rotating but continue vibrating. This prevents heat build-up caused by friction, reduces the amount of polishing action happening on the paint surface, and prevents the machine from burning through the paint. This is one reason why a Dual-Action polisher is ideal for first-time detailers who have only just begun to learn about polishing. More experienced and professional detailers transition to a forced action or forced orbital polishing machine and only use the Dual-Action Polisher to refine, finish, and jewel the paint.
Want to take your detailing skills to the next level?
Increase your: Knowledge, Skills, Quality, Confidence, and Profits with Show Shine Garage Training Guides from
IDA Certified Master Detailer Todd Coldiron