The Fundamental Variables of Paint Polishing – Pt 5 – Arm Speed
By Christopher Brown of OCDCarCare Los Angeles – OCDCarCare.com
Arm Speed is the rate at which a polisher is moved over a working section.
Moving a polisher quickly over a defected area does not accomplish more correction; it actually perform less.
Rapid arm speed is an archaic methodology carried over from a time when rotary buffers lacked variable speeds motors. Back then, it was a necessity to move a machine rapidly over a working section for safety because the forced rotation, held in a single spot for sustained periods of time, would result in an easy burn through of the paint.
Contemporary Concepts Regarding Arm Speed
In modern paint correction, utilizing a dual-action polisher; the machine, pad, and correction liquid perform the heavy lifting. This is ideal since modern machines are more precise and consistent than ever before.
The machine still needs a foreman; whose job is to direct how the machine operates on a particular job. A detailer’s eyes and arms are this foreman. The eyes stay ever focused, evaluating the results of each process. The arms guide the equipment over the working section at a rate that is optimal to maximum correction. In a word, this rate of arm speed is—SLOW.
A Rough Guide for Arm Speed
Using a Dual Action Polisher, the starting point for arm speed is moving a buffer at a rate of 1 inch per second. This may seem incredibly slow, but once again, slow arm speed allows the MACHINE, PAD, and PRODUCT to do their respective jobs. This rare may be even slower for heavily defected areas.
Remember (for arm speed) in paint correction: Slow and deliberate passes win the correction race.
How Slow Arm Speed Functions to Better Correct Paint Defects
Slow arm speed allows the pad face and correction liquid ample time to engage defects, allowing for sufficient correction. At its core; paint polishing is the process of moving a form of liquefied sandpaper over paint to remove defects. A surface defect (scratch) is MUCH bigger than the abrasive grit contained within a buffing liquid.
For comparison, imagine the size of a ditch, versus the size of a golf ball. The tiny golf balls (abrasive particulates) of a compound or polish cannot wear down the ditch (scratch) on their own.
However, when golf balls team up with one or two thousand of their buddies, and given strict orders to attack the defects, (slow arm speed) they can do some serious, and controlled, refinement. Often times, this little army of buffing particles can completely decimate many larger scratches. And, with deep uncorrectable defects (beneath the clear coat), the mini grit army can greatly minimize defects to the point of being barely noticeable. Deeper scratch appearance is improved through the rounding off the sharp edges of scratches.
Heat is the Byproduct of Slow Arm Speed
While slow arm speed is best because it allows the pad and correction liquid ample time to correct defects due to increased friction, it does create one immediate and significant byproduct — HEAT.
As mentioned earlier, paint is a porous and catalyzed structure, and therefore is very sensitive to quick mechanically generated heat. When modern paint technology is paired with a substrate which does not disperse heat well, such as plastic, fiberglass, or carbon fiber, heat build-up can occur very quickly.
Therefore heat ALWAYS need to be monitored, no matter the working section substrate material.
Closing Remarks About Arm Speed
Slow arm speed allows the machine, polishing pad, and correction liquid to engage the surface in a controlled fashion. This procedure allows for maximum defect removal, consistency, and effectiveness. For best and most efficient results, detailers must make informed selections when pairing tools and correction liquids. These choices also affect the rate of arm speed and therefore influence the overall rate of defect removal.
© Christopher Brown – OCDCarCare Los Angeles – OCDCarCare.com – 2013
Click here if you missed Pt. 1 – 4 of the series: The Fundamental Variables for Optimal Paint Polishing
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His passion & dedication to car care lead him to writing in-depth articles about detailing related subjects in order to share and interact with the car enthusiast & detailing communities. Eventually, this lead to detailing training courses designed to develop skills, confidence, and results which enable detailers to increase quality, efficiency, and profitability.
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