Paint Polishing is the process of using a micro-abrasive product to remove flaws or defects from the paintwork surface and enhance the depth, clarity, and gloss of the paint’s finish. Please note: Before polishing, the surface must go through an extensive washing, cleansing, and decontamination process to prepare the surface for polishing. There are polishing products for enhancing paint, glass, plastic, carbon fiber, Perspex, metal, and other solid surfaces.
How Does Polishing Work?
Polishing works by removing (shaving off) a thin layer of the paintwork, resulting in a smooth, level surface. If a surface defect (scratch, swirl-mark, etching) is deeper than the polish can remove, the defect will still be visible. However, because polishing removes some of the paintwork, a portion of the defect is also removed, making the blemish much less visible. For example, if a surface defect is 6 microns deep and polishing can only remove 3 microns of the paintwork surface, there will still be 3 microns of the defect left in the paint’s surface. Since the defect is now 3 microns deep, it is smaller and much less visible.
What Are The Different Grades Of Polish?
Paint Polish comes in different grades. The most common are:
- Jeweling or Finishing Polish
- Light, Fine, or Ultra-Fine Polish
- Medium Polish
- Heavy Cut Polish
The results achieved by each polish grade is conditional upon the type of paint the polish is being used on. For example, some paint types are hard, and other paint types are soft. Therefore a higher grade of polish is needed in order to achieve the same results that a lighter grade polish would produce on softer paint. The type of polishing machine, type of polishing pad, speed, and amount of friction applied also play a role in the final results.
What Are Compounds?
A polish designed to remove severe or deep scratches or etchings and need further refining is called a compound. Compounds are courser and more aggressive than other polishes. They will also remove more of the surface being worked on and always require several additional refining steps to achieve a good finish. Compounds are usually classified as SMAT (Super Micro Abrasive Technology) polishes.
Polishes are generally made of a few key ingredients. The most common is the oil, which helps lubricate the surface, and a micro-abrasive material, usually a powdery substance which cuts or shaves the surface.
What Are SMAT And DAT Polishes?
SMAT – Super Micro Abrasive Technology
SMAT polishes use micro-abrasives that have a fixed size to achieve a controlled, even desired effect. These micro-abrasives maintain their size, which allows you to make more passes and have more of an impact. The longer you polish, the more result it has because you will remove more paint. However, there’s a limit to how long it will last because the micro-abrasives will eventually become deformed by the polishing-action, which makes them less effective.
DAT – Diminishing Abrasive Technology
DAT polishes use diminishing micro-abrasives that will break down during use. The combination of heat, pressure, and time causes the polish abrasives to get smaller and smaller until they disintegrate into nothing. After a certain amount of time, the polish will have zero effect, regardless of the number of passes you make. It is recommended to work the polish until it is entirely disintegrated. DAT polishes have less cutting power than SMAT polishes but will result in a finish that requires much less refinement. In some cases, they will achieve a finished result with one grade of polish.
Polishing By Hand And Machine Polishing
Polishing paint can be accomplished by either hand or by using a polishing machine. Polishing by hand gives you more control, allows you to work in smaller areas, and allows you to feel how the pad reacts to the paint surface. On the other hand, polishing by machine has the benefit of working much faster, the paint surface gets warmer (which helps the polish break down), and you can work on a larger area, which creates a more unified, level surface. The downsides of hand polishing is the amount of time and manual labor required to achieve results. The downside of polishing by machine, you first need to buy a machine (which can be expensive). You need to pay attention to heat buildup, clogged pads, and be extra careful around corners and edges that usually have less paint in those areas.
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