Barry Theal and I recently exchanged e-mails regarding paint polishing. We thought it might be a good read. We are not recommending anyone try the methods we are discussing... we are just chatting by the water cooler, so to speak.
I copied and pasted this from another forum.
I have been playing around alot with some new methods of paint polishing and trying to take things to another level. I had a few ?'s and thought I would contact Kevin Brown. For those of you who don't know Kevin, I had the chance to get to talk with him a few times over the last year and he is a man of integrity, knowledge, and passion. A true assest to this business.
Anyway, I have been trying to find a new way finish down paint. I'm working on a few new techniques and ideas. When I sent the below email to Kevin his reply was simply amazing and we thought this would be a thread for all to veiw. Below is my email to him then his response! Hopefully you all enjoy. Thanks Kevin I got a reply coming soon in email.
ORIGINAL E-MAIL FROM BARRY TO KEVIN:
So I finally broke down and got real serious with your method. Its been going nice. I wondered something though over the past week and began to think a little. Not sure if thats good or not. I wanted to run something by you here and see what you thought. When finishing down with m205. As a Non Diminish abrasive how do you truly get the most flawless paint possible? If the abrasive truly doesn't diminish how can there not be any super microscopic scratches?
Next I began to think about the whole jeweling thing or what I call burnishing. Working the paint with a Diminishing abrasive polish to refine the paint as much as possible to gain the most gloss. Although when finishing down with your method its looks outstanding. I began to wonder could you take it another step. So at this point I was like a kid in science class. Trying different pads and different abrasives.
What if you were to entirely remove the abrasive and use just the pad for finishing? Obviously you can't just spin a pad across the paint and expect anything. When using your method I think a big part is the lubrication from the water. Kinda like when your wetsanding the more water the less the abrasive yor paper will be. So as the search went on. I found you need a lubricant to keep the pad moving while only using your pad as the abrasive. So I moved onto quick detailers and such and found that you can finish down with Final Inspection Spray. If makes a great lube as well as cleans the paint free of the oils from the polishes. Once trying this I ran the pc at speed 3 after 2 lights mists of Final Inspection and boom I burnished paint with a pc and had amazing results. It made the paint feel clean but it had a crisp look to it. Some would think I'm nuts for this. You're a man who I'm sure a few thought were nuts when you said how about serious correction with a pc.
Anyways, ever try something like this? Does it make sense to you? Or am I just nuts? Lol. Let me know what you think.
I will respond section by section.
If something doesn't make sense or seems out of place, it is because I wrote a bit at a time (then moved things around as I went along).
"So I finally broke down and got real serious with your method. Its been going nice. I wondered something though over the past week and began to think a little. Not sure if thats good or not. I wanted to run something by you here and see what you thought. When finishing down with m205..."
Nice to see you playing around with polishing. Not a lot of guys take the time to think about what is happening during the polishing process. However, I think it is a must for guys that want to be better than very good. Let's chat!
Unless the paint is "brand new" (freshly sprayed and not touched) there is bound to be scratches, whether the human eye can see them or not.
This is an opinion- but I suspect not too many guys would disagree. If you fall into this category, then we see eye to eye so far. So yes- there are microscopic scratches present. For the sake of argument, let's assume that we are always refining the scratched paint surface (either by smoothing its shape or eliminating big scratches and replacing them with smaller ones).
To bolster this opinion, we can certainly look at the effects that glazes, oils, and fillers have on our perception of the paint surface. After all, if the paint is perfectly smooth, would we see a better reflection if we "topped" the paint with some sort of transparent product (the "topper")? We may see more depth because we have added thickness to the surface (so the paint color would be literally farther away from the top point of the glaze or wax), but not more accurate reflection. In fact, unless the topper was self leveling, we may see a decrease in reflective accuracy.
We probably should consider what these scratches look like.
Are the scratches shaped like a "V"? Or, are they shaped like a "channel" (channel meaning that the shape would be similar to a square minus the top line)? If the scratches are "V" shaped, our buffing abrasives are more readily able to polish the sides of the scratch and smooth the points where the top of the scratch meets the paint's uppermost surface. These scratches are certainly the most common, as a piece of grit or hard material usually cuts into the paint like a knife blade (thinly at first, then wider as the scratch deepens). If the scratches are channel shaped, the scratch is not as easy to hide via smoothing, so more paint must be removed in order to eliminate them. These scratches are usually created when an object is pushed across the surface, without an ability to dig deeper (such as when somebody places a cardboard box on the truck and slides it). Any dirt between the box and paint either rolls between them, or the dirt gets attached to the box and acts like a piece of sandpaper. Better yet- imagine that the teeth of a hair comb made of steel is rubbed against the paint, and the ends of the teeth are square instead of pointed.
Now... let's discuss our abrasive materials.
In most cases, buffing liquids and pads should be considered abrasive (we'll stick to foam pads for this discussion).
Since most pads are designed to contour to the painted panel, they tend to ride upon the painted surface rather than dig in. Their action is similar to what happens with paint cleaning clay. Unless the shape of the individual membranes are aggressive or sharp (or if someone decided to mix abrasive particles in with the foam slurry), the foam will create scratches that are fairly consistently shaped, and with similar depths. This assumes that the pad is not falling apart, or the walls of the membranes are not sticking together and then flipping upon each other, creating bulky clumps). If we add a lot of downward force to the pad in order to compress it and the foam can NO LONGER reshape to the panel (or the foam becomes reasonably compressed), it will then create inconsistently deep scratches (mostly due to panel shape). So, final polishing is typically done with super soft and pliable pads, devoid of harsh membrane structures. By harsh, I mean bumpy.
"As a Non Diminish abrasive, how do you truly get the most flawless paint possible?"
"If the abrasive truly doesn't diminish, how can there not be any super microscopic scratches?"
You asked about non diminishing abrasives.
In the case of the superfine stuff being used these days, the individual particles generally create a smaller and more consistently shaped scratch than the materials used to make the pads. So, you might want to think of these in this manner. Abrasive, yes. But not detrimental to the surface. If the abrasive particles are evenly dispersed across the pad and they rub across the paint in tandem (tightly packed against each other, not clumped, and on the same plane) you should see a great result. It is likely that if we could grab just one abrasive particle and push it across the paint surface, we likely would NOT be able to see the scratch it created.
"Next I began to think about the whole jeweling thing or what I call burnishing."
So, what about "jeweling" or "burnishing"?
Those are terms that essentially define the final polish step to me. When I used to do a five or six step rotary session, I personally did not have names for each step (I just paired pad with paint with process). Then again, I was buffing using multi-step processes prior to the time when there was any Internet-based forum discussion about polishing, so I suppose if I was explaining things by "steps" and using names for the steps, I might have referred to them by similar names.
What you guys are basically doing is trying to use the pad's abrasive capabilities to polish the paint in the least invasive manner, while still affecting the paint surface. A coating of liquid applied to the buffing pad's membrane-like structure and the paint surface itself might act as a "buffer" (in this case meaning to lessen or moderate the impact of something). Think of it this way: First, the liquid coats the surfaces, so only the tallest points not within the layer of liquid are fully exposed or mostly exposed.
To better visualize this, think of the ocean and the land above the sea level on Earth. In this case, let's slice off a small piece of Earth and place it on a very large table (a square mile will do). You are in charge of water management. Your goal is to keep the water in the ocean, and the dry land dry. The water will stay on the table unless you take action to remove it via bucket, squeegee, push broom, or via heat (thus evaporation).
Just as in reality, your ocean covers most of the Earth's surface. If you wanted to push broom or evaporate the ocean away, it would be a massive undertaking. Now, imagine a storm rolled in and wet all of the dry land. Although the land would be wet, the layer of water would be very thin (compared to the depth of the ocean). Heat from the sun would evaporate the thin layer of water in a hurry, and you could squeegee away any water lying upon hard or flat surfaces (you would push it right back into the ocean). The remaining uneven land surfaces holding pooled water could be either scooped away or soaked up with absorbent materials.
This scenario is very similar to what we are doing when we polish paint using a buffing machine paired with a foam pad. The pad acts as a push broom or a squeegee to some degree, and the heat generated by the friction replaces the sun to aid evaporation of the liquid. If the pad and paint is coated with a liquid that acts as a barrier to interaction of the two, it is effectively burying some of the paint. The majority of the pad face cannot physically touch the paint, so only the high points are being affected by the pad motion.
In reference to water or lubricating agents in general:
Since liquids are not easily compressed (most times they are deemed to be not compressible for simplicity sake), the layer of liquid might cause the pad to "float" or ride atop the liquid to some degree. If the pad also features a layer of liquid spread across it, the net effect might be one that sees only minimal contact between the pad and paint surface. Consequently, only the highest of points of the paint surface are being affected, and the newly formed paint surface would lack sharp or inconsistently shaped features.
To envision this, imagine that you are going to skip a rock across a pond of water, and the water is at rest (so its surface is basically flat). The pool of water has small pieces of grass sticking through the top, and you want to cut a path through the grass so that it is flush with the water level. You sharpen the edge of the rock so it will cut through, and you make sure when you throw the rock, it has a lot of rotational speed.
This scenario is very similar to what is likely occurring during your "burnishing" step when you polish paint with a finishing polish. In this case, the pond water represents the liquid covering the paint, the grass blades represent the high points of paint that your pad is going to "cut through", and the rock represents your buffing pad. Not a perfect analogy, but I hope you get the gist of the comparison.[/COLOR]
"...Working the paint with a Diminishing abrasive polish to refine the paint as much as possible
to gain the most gloss (burnishing)."
This assumes that the abrasive, once fully diminished, will be smaller in size and more consistently shaped than the current crop of non-diminishing micro-abrasives used in products like M205. Besides, what about abrasives that do not attach well to the foam membrane structure very well? What if someone came up with a particle that was mostly smooth, except it featured a buffering agent that allowed only the tiniest points of the particle to protrude and possibly attach to the pad? Most of the particles would have to be pushed along the paint surface by the pad. The remaining loose particles would either be positioned between the pad and paint (rolling between the two), or they would simply be squeegeed across the paint by the pad's membrane-like structure. Interesting.
"What if you were to entirely remove the abrasive and use just the pad for finishing?"
Could you use a buffing liquid that does not contain abrasives and just use the buffing pad to reshape the paint surface?
Sure! As long as the pad is as previously discussed... as long as it does have some abrasive capability... and as long as the guy using it keeps it clean and understands how it interacts with the surface.... then a quality result could be realized. As with all other products used to polish paint, one paint-type will respond better than another, so it is something to keep in the arsenal but would likely not deliver the results you might be hoping for on most paints. Again- if you see great results, then more power to you. If Final Inspection works well, a softer pad (or a softened pad) paired with water as your short term lube might yield similar results.
"When using your method I think a big part is the lubrication from the water."
Not sure if you are referring to using the rotary or using the random orbital here.
While water certainly seems to alter the cut, it usually results in a bit more haziness of the surface. I have written about using a spritz of water to increase the cut with the rotary, but do not generally recommend implementing it with the random orbital. Do I personally do it? YES, but not always. I am a stickler when it comes to keeping my pads clean (which is probably one of the top reasons I tend to see better polishing results than the next guy). If the pad is not kept clean (especially when using a water spritz), the abrasives and paint residue tend to pack onto the surface of the pad or into the membrane structure, and stay there. A big reason for this? Typically, there is not a lot of centrifugal motion occurring (because there is less high speed rotation of the pad), so the residues tend to stay where they are compared to using the same setup with a rotary.
"Kinda like when your wetsanding the more water the less the abrasive your paper will be."
Are you referring to a hydroplaning effect, so to speak?
I think you are meaning that if too much water is present between the sandpaper and paint, then the paper essentially glides atop the water until enough escapes. The correct amount of water? Water would be present in the valleys between the abrasive particles, and a minimal amount would be present between the points of the particles and the paint. Enough to float away abraded paint residue. I think we are on the same page here.
Now consider this: What if you were to use only sandpaper to polish the paint?
You would start out sanding with a paper than features large particles first, then once you leveled the surface sufficiently, you would then use papers featuring finer particles. This process would continue until your eye could not discern any surface defects. By using sandpaper, you would have created a very leveled surface, especially if you paper was not flexible from one point to the next. Most panels we sand or polish are not laser-level, so we need to utilize papers that can conform to the panel. We therefore need some flexibility, but only enough to allow the paper as a whole to contour to the panel shape. If the paper changed shape every time a piece of sanding grit encountered a high point or low point, we would only succeed in thinning the film build without evening the surface from one point to the next. Again- this is similar to how paint cleaning clay operates, except the abrasives stay level to the surface because the clay contours to the surface. The clay and its abrasives have a very hard time digging in, so true leveling is not going to happen. But- can you imagine how accurate the reflection would be if we polished the paint via sanding rather than use a pad and abrasive?!
It could be pretty stunning. For the most part, the paint surface would feature a very smooth looking surface, one that would reflect accurately. Think of a typical orange, but imagine if it was a smooth metal sphere that had been painted. If we progressively sanded the surface, we would certainly see a consistently shaped layer of paint, when compared to an identical orange that had been polished using a buffer, pad, and buffing liquid. The only standout defects might be tracers that had not been thoroughly removed during subsequent steps, but their would be no high points, only valleys.
We could get a similar type finish with machine polishing if we could spin the pad fast enough.
Heat is our biggest problem. Next, the inability to see the paint through the buffing liquids could lead to disaster. The abrasive particles that were able to attach to the pad would move at the speed of the pad, effectively acting as a sanding disc. The remaining loose particles would be pushed along, eventually tumbling and adjusting disposition. In a way, they might act as little spheres (think of ball bearings), and they would either be forced into the paint or slide across it, grinding the away at the paint surface. They might also act as a hard barrier, effectively negating any pad/paint contact. You've seen this for sure- lots of guys refer to it as "gumming". Gumming either occurs because of what has just been outlined, or because the pad cannot "squeegee" the product from the surface. Instead, the pad simply rolls over the product.
"So I moved onto quick detailers and such and found that you can finish down with Final Inspection Spray.
It makes a great lube as well as cleans the paint free of the oils from the polishes."
You mentioned that the Final Inspection cleans the surface (removing the oils) while acting as a lube.
True, to a point. The "oil & water do not mix" dynamic certainly applies to a degree. The Final Inspection lifts or displaces the oil (moving it away from the surface and the pad via centrifugal force to some level), revealing clean paint and pad surfaces. The Final Inspection would also act as a lubrication until it evaporated (more rapidly than a typical petroleum or other lube material). It's just like when we spritz the paint with water when using a rotary and a wool pad. The pad is minimally cleaned because some of the attached abrasive particles loosen, the paint is cleaned (to some degree and dependent upon many things). It also wets the fibers, making them pliable again, eventually allowing them to straighten and pack tightly against each other (effectively increasing the amount of wool present in any measured area, such as a square-inch).
Does it make sense to you? Or am I just nuts? lol. Let me know what you think.
Not nuts at all.
I suspect that in the future we will be utilizing some pretty incredible stuff.
Perhaps we'll have buffing liquids that are sprayable. They will contain very fine, hard particle abrasives. The pads will likely have pockets that can release small amounts of moisture so that the abrasives can be worked longer before they dust away.
We may even see a point when the pads are impregnated with the abrasive particles (which will be super hard, like diamond dust), and we will spray a lube of some sort upon the surface. This would be ideal, because all we would need to do is clean the pad with compressed air during their use. Once the session ended, we could then wash them to remove stuck-on contamination. The only dusting we would encounter would be remnants of the pad and the residues we buffed away.
Your turn to let me know what you think.
If this all makes sense, perhaps we could/should post it to a forum, as I think people would enjoy the read. Kevin