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Thread: Polisher war: Flex XFE7 vs Flex 3401

          
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    Mr. greg0303's Avatar
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    Polisher war: Flex XFE7 vs Flex 3401

    Now, after I spent enough time with both Flex dual action/random orbital polishers, I have some (deep) thoughts to share.

    Flex XFE7-15 is the newest addition to my detailing tool collection. The quality of that polisher is amazing. It's manufactured in Germany, where all Flex polishers are assembled. It's a 12mm long throw/large orbit dual action polisher. It operates very quietly, even on higher speeds, and its ventilation system is much more advanced/improved, comparing to model 3401.





    A lot has been said about the new trend in car detailing world of using long stroke/large orbit dual action polishers. They operate very smoothly with much less vibration, they are easier to control and cover large area to get work done faster. There is exactly the case of XFE7. But on vertical, contoured or uneven surface they experience the same issues, known from other dual action polishers, they loose rotation. While during polishing and waxing process it's not a problem, during defect removal it is absolutely not wanted. Those 12mm/15mm/21mm polishers really shine on large even panels. They work just effortlessly.

    Flex XFE7-15 spins in the right direction: clockwise (looking from top of the polisher). Flex XC 3401 VRG spins the opposite direction (counter clockwise), which some detailers find annoying.

    Below it's pictured Flex XC 3401 VRG, dual action/random orbital polishers, with forced rotation and traditional 8mm orbit.
    It's pictured with optional Lake Country Mfg. 4-inch changeable backing plate system, to allow the machine operate with 4-inch spot buffing pad. My friend, Eric Dunn (ex Lake Country Mfg., currently Buff & Shine) was the master designer of that changeable pad system.





    The strongest asset of Flex 3401 it's the forced rotation mechanism. No matter what, the rotation can't be stopped. It's a big advantage during paint defect removal/ paint correction work. The polisher is very sensitive to flat pad holding, just like rotary buffers, it will "walk" if not kept flat. Therefore it's much harder to control and requires some time/training. Flex 3401 removes paint defects very quickly. I estimate its power as 80% of rotary buffers, some detailers say it's even more. This effectiveness increases while used with microfiber cutting discs/pads or foamed wool pads.
    Flex 3401 gets hot pretty quickly, especially when working on higher speed settings. It causes some vibrations and requires down pressure for effective paint removal, just like all traditional 8mm polishers.

    Overall Flex produces very well engineered polishing machines. They operate very smoothly and effectively. Model XFE7 is definitely more user friendly, due to its large 15mm orbit. Model 3401 is more powerful/more effective during paint correction work, due to its forced rotation mechanism.
    They both get their jobs done well, but users looking for faster defect removal/time efficiency won't be disappointed with 3401, while XFE7 users will glory its super smooth operating process.
    At the moment model XFE7 can only be used with 6.5", 6", 5.5" and 5" buffing pads, extra backing plate needed for 5.5"/5".
    Model 3401 will work also with 4" spot buffing pads, with additional backing plate.

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    Mr. greg0303's Avatar
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    Re: Polisher war: Flex XFE7 vs Flex 3401

    I posted my thoughts about using DA Microfiber Correction System with forced rotation dual action polishers back in 2011, but it's still accurate:
    http://www.meguiarsonline.com/forums...WDfCTplEVHm.97

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    Re: Polisher war: Flex XFE7 vs Flex 3401

    Hello Greg;
    Did you utilize XFE7 to remove defects with Meg MF cutting/foam thin pads with M105/100 compounds? and how that works.

    Thanks

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    Re: Polisher war: Flex XFE7 vs Flex 3401

    Quote Originally Posted by mohebmhanna View Post
    Hello Greg;
    Did you utilize XFE7 to remove defects with Meg MF cutting/foam thin pads with M105/100 compounds? and how that works.
    Thanks
    Hello,

    I've used Flex XFE7 with:

    - Meguiar's new 6" foam cutting and polishing discs with Ultimate Compound/Ultimate Polish; no issues, good/fast defect removal;

    - Meguiar's 6" microfiber finishing disc with M205 Ultra Finishing Polish (Kevin Brown Method); very nice combo offering defect removal and great finish in one step, I highly recommend it;

    - Meguiar's 6" microfiber cutting disc with D300 DA Correction Compound; good/fast defect removal, no dust, long buffing cycle, easy wipe-off.


    Due to the tool's long throw (15 mm) its correction ability has been increased, comparing to standard 8 mm dual action polishers.
    Microfiber pads/discs further increase the level of defect removal.
    Forced rotation/gear driven polishers remove defects even faster but are less user friendly, require more control/proper technique.

    I hope it helps.

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    Registered Member wifpd4's Avatar
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    Re: Polisher war: Flex XFE7 vs Flex 3401

    Greg,

    Thanks for this comparison/evaluation.

    I'm glad you mentioned the heat of 3401. I often wondered if I had a defective unit, as my 3401 gets very hot. After completing correction on an area, I will continue holding the 3401 while wiping off compound. I would hold it cradled in my left arm like a baby while the right hand wipes with a microfiber. However, unlike holding a baby, by the end of the day my left arm would have a few burns from the head of the 3401.

    Again, thanks.

    "fishing for swirls in a sea of black"
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    David

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    Re: Polisher war: Flex XFE7 vs Flex 3401

    Hi David,

    Unfortunately everybody feels the heat coming from 3401 for sure. The new version of Flex's forced rotation machine, called XCE9, will have improved cooling system similar to XFE7 and it will spin clockwise. The release date has been pushed to the end of this year, possibly at SEMA time.

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    Re: Polisher war: Flex XFE7 vs Flex 3401

    Quote Originally Posted by greg0303 View Post
    Hello,

    I've used Flex XFE7 with:

    - Meguiar's new 6" foam cutting and polishing discs with Ultimate Compound/Ultimate Polish; no issues, good/fast defect removal;

    - Meguiar's 6" microfiber finishing disc with M205 Ultra Finishing Polish (Kevin Brown Method); very nice combo offering defect removal and great finish in one step, I highly recommend it;

    - Meguiar's 6" microfiber cutting disc with D300 DA Correction Compound; good/fast defect removal, no dust, long buffing cycle, easy wipe-off.


    Due to the tool's long throw (15 mm) its correction ability has been increased, comparing to standard 8 mm dual action polishers.
    Microfiber pads/discs further increase the level of defect removal.
    Forced rotation/gear driven polishers remove defects even faster but are less user friendly, require more control/proper technique.

    I hope it helps.

    Thanks Greg for your inputs.
    It looks like it's very good polisher as expected from Flex.

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    Re: Polisher war: Flex XFE7 vs Flex 3401

    For the XFE7 what speed should I use for cutting step? Around 4 or 5? Firm pressure and slow arm speed?

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    Re: Polisher war: Flex XFE7 vs Flex 3401

    Quote Originally Posted by KeryNg View Post
    For the XFE7 what speed should I use for cutting step? Around 4 or 5? Firm pressure and slow arm speed?
    Hi Kery,

    Definitely use higher speed settings for cutting step: paint defect removal. Speed 5, or even 6 if needed, would be recommended.
    For polishing step - speed 3-4, and then waxing 2-3.

    Slow arm speed, at rate 1 inch per second, would give a maximum cut. With long throw machines, like Flex XFE 7, moderate/heavy down pressure is not needed, just firm pressure should be significant.

    In your case, in accordance to your private message, sanding mark removal requires an aggressive compound as well. Any of Meguiar's liquids, with SMAT technology, should be capable of successful completion of this task: M100, M101 or M105. You shouldn't need a rotary buffer. Flex XFE 7 should give you even muscle for this job.

    Microfiber cutting/extra cutting disc would further increase the cutting rate, as these discs cut faster than foam pads.

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    Re: Polisher war: Flex XFE7 vs Flex 3401

    Thank you for very detail information.

    Due to lack of pad selection in my country I have to use Rupes Blue foam pad for cutting and Menzerna FG400 then green pad for M205 ( M105 is not available here )

    I will order Meg MF disc and M105 in USA since they are not available here at the moment to see any improvement or not.
    I will try to adjust as your advice to see how it goes.

    Once again thank you for your help Greg.

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