August 12, 2019

Automotive Polishing: Balancing Cut Rate with Surface Finish

In an ideal world, automotive polishing compounds would precisely balance a high-cutting action with a uniform final surface finish to offer true single-step paint correction. The reality is that readily-available single-step compounds are often just a temporary solution to a long-term problem. These compounds are usually engineered with blocky particles of calcined alumina (Al2O3) and cheap earthen minerals, which can cause as many issues as they resolve.

Reality of Single-Step Compounds

Cheap automotive polishing compounds can cause new scratches and swirls to occur during the polishing process. This is primarily a result of the inevitably poor particle size distribution (PSD) and microstructural variations of abrasives sourced in bulk from standard suppliers. Compound synthesizers often attempt to counteract the generation of new flaws by loading formulations with additional filler materials. These can obscure optical flaws for a time, but a thorough car wash will reveal the true temporary nature of automotive paint correction with cheap compounds.
Automotive Polish

The obvious solution to this issue is to resort to tried-and-tested multi-step automotive polishing with a series of high-performance compounds.

Balancing Cut Rate with Surface Finish

The holy grail of automotive paint correction is still a true, single-step automotive polishing compound that can reliably begin its service life with a high-cutting action that reduces due to in situ particle morphing.

Saint-Gobain Surface Conditioning offers IDEAL Hybrid particles that exploit this novel phenomenon, using highly-engineered microstructural alumina particles centered around a mean particle size of approximately 5 micrometers. This product begins polishing with a high cutting action, morphing during application to reach an improvised state with a less aggressive cut. When used effectively, compounds loaded with IDEAL Hybrid alumina particles could theoretically achieve the perfect balance of cut rate to surface finish for true, permanent paint correction.

However, automotive polishing is never an exact science. The performance will vary depending on the extent of applied force through the buffer pad, the firmness, and design of the buffer pad itself, and the level of oscillating coverage. Complicating these controllable factors is the extent of subjective issues that make single-step automotive polishing difficult to quantitatively achieve. Human perception and error are always going to be a factor in manual automotive polishing, with the number of steps and length of time required to reach the desired surface finish from a flawed substrate largely depending on the combined factors of material capabilities and personal preference.

Saint-Gobain Surface Conditioning has conducted extensive tests into optimizing the performance of IDEAL Hybrid particles with a systematic approach. If you would like more information on this subject, read our previous blog post Abrasive Solutions for Single Step Automotive Polishing.

Automotive Polishing with Saint-Gobain Surface Conditioning

Saint-Gobain Surface Conditioning generates abrasive media for automotive polishing compounds with unmatched experience in the field of particle engineering. Yet we also understand that paint correction is always going to be an area of subjectivity. The ongoing question in automotive polishing is: how to balance cut rate with surface finish.

While IDEAL Hybrid products cannot guarantee perfect paint correction in a single step, it can provide a unique balance of advanced cutting action with a fine surface finish. If you would like to learn more, simply contact a member of the Saint-Gobain team today.