Non Diminishing Abrasives & Short Cycling: The Kings of Auto Detailing Paint Correction
By Christopher Brown of OCDCarCare Los Angeles – OCDCarCare.com – 11 July 2018
Paint Correction, within Auto Detailing, is often a marquee or foundational process for many detailing packages; including ceramic nano coating applications. These popular services have radically changed the business models of many detailing businesses, making them substantially more popular and profitable recently.
While there are many correction liquids on the market, there is one technology type that is head and shoulders above the rest.
This Article will explore the function of Non Diminishing Abrasives and explain why they are currently the best technology for auto detailing paint polishing. This discussion centers around Non Diminishing Abrasives with a low amount of solvents. “Chemical Cut” – meaning intentional chemical agents used to intentionally open paint pores in order to reach defects, is another deeper conversation for another time. Therefore, in the context of this article, it is preferable to use a low solvent correction liquid. This reduces paint swell during polishing, avoiding a number of issues such as: paint integrity, hiding defects, ‘phantom’ water spots, and interfering with ceramic nano coating applications.
Advantages of Non Diminishing Abrasives Explained
If the priority during paint correction is: the highest quality finish, with the most efficient and quickest results, while being the safest for vehicle surfaces, then Non Diminishing Abrasive correction liquids are the clear choice. The reasons for this are many:
Constant + Consistent Cut
Non Diminishing Abrasive (NDA) particles do not break down (diminish) and always have a constant and consistent cut during a polishing cycle. Therefore, no additional compound variables of “when” and “how much” the abrasives will break down during a polishing cycle exist. This consistent cut allows for quicker reading and understanding of the paint system due to an accurate rate of material removal from the surface. Furthermore, there is no chance that one, or a few, of the original particles will become lodged in the pad and then randomly release at a later time. This is a problem during a finishing cycle since the larger more aggressive abrasive particle would scour the surface.
Less Heat Generated during Paint Correction
Since Non Diminishing Abrasives work consistently to remove material (paint) they don’t require long or extended polishing cycles to cut. Less passes reduces the overall amount of friction over a panel, creating less heat during the polishing cycle.
Since paint correction with non-diminishing abrasives is completed in a shorter amount of time, a more efficient process occurs. This can directly lead to an increased hourly rate or more jobs completed over a day, week, or months’ time.
Less Stress/Wear on Operator, Tools, Pads
A more efficient process of paint correction, using NDA’s, leads to less stress and wear on detailers, machines, and pads. This leads to increased profitability for employee labor. Additionally, less stress on a detailer’s body leads to better results and a happier demeanor when working.
Less stress on machines and pads enables more mileage on these costly tools and more jobs completed by both. This combination helps greatly to keep ‘material costs’ down per job.
* Paint Residue Builds up Quickly with Non Diminishing Liquids: So Remember to Clean Pads Frequently!
When using NDA’s paint residue builds up QUICKLY on pads. Since the liquid always cuts at max rate, hard paint material is removed fast. This means pads will quickly load with paint residue and used product.
At a certain point, the level of residue will build up and start to clog the pad. The more residue that builds up, the more the cutting process is slowed down. Additionally, if allowed, over saturation of reside on the pad surface will start to scour or haze the finish.
For this reason, pad cleaning is CRITICAL when paint polishing with Non Diminishing Abrasives. Compressed air is, by far, the best means of removing residue from pads. Therefore, blow out pads after completing each working section.
Also, while air is very effective at removing residue from pads, it does not remove everything. Therefore, plan on using at least 4 pads per vehicle, to stay ahead of pad residue build up. More may be necessary due to total vehicle size and overall paint dynamics. But 4 pads per vehicle is a solid starting point. Also, depending on the workflow and time constraints for a job, it may be necessary, faster, or perform better to switch out pads more frequently and clean them later.
“LONG WORKING TIME” is Unnecessary Marketing Hype
“Long working time” is one of the most over used marketing terms in the auto detailing industry in regards to compounds and polishes. Companies want consumers to believe this an advantage. The term “long working time” implies more work occurs during a longer buffing cycle. But, on the pad this is usually not the case at all.
Diminishing abrasive based liquids cut to a certain point and stop because they break down. Let’s call this point “X”.
After X, not much correction occurs because the abrasive is broken down, smaller, and less aggressive. So the abrasive’s cut capability is greatly diminished or gone. Instead, the compound or polish is basically smearing around hard paint residue, collected by the pad, and scouring the surface.
Non Diminishing Abrasive based liquids do not stop cutting during a buffing cycle. So, the pad will eventually reach a tipping point and it will become oversaturated and full of paint residue. These elevated levels of paint residue build up, reduce the capability of the pad to cut and accept residue. High levels of paint residue within a pad drastically reduce the overall cutting capability.
For this reason it is important to clean pads frequently with NDA’s, as discussed previously in the Paint Residue section. However, consistent marketing speak somehow made the term ‘long working time’ standard language within the industry. Many detailers often blindly over cycle all correction liquids for long periods of time. It seems these individuals are looking for some sort of ‘visual indicator’ for when to stop polishing. Often times what they observe is the emulsion within the liquid breaking down or the abrasives attaching themselves to large paint particles and embedding themselves within the pad. In short, a visual indication of a compound working on a panel does not accurately indicate cycling.
‘Long Working Time’ Correction Liquids Typically Contain Heavy Carrier Oils
Additionally, Diminishing Abrasive compounds or liquids with ‘long working’ times, contain medium to heavy carrier oils, These are used to keep the liquid ‘workable.’ These medium to heavy carrier oils presents a few issues to detailers:
- Heavier carrier oils stubbornly cling to clear coat in an aggressive fashion or they smear, creating removal issues. (Think of bacon grease clean-up on a counter.) Prolonged time or steps for compound or polish removal can slow down the paint correction process. Also, his can wreak havoc on finicky paint, causing potential marring since either additional pressure or additional wiping steps are necessary for removal.
- Heavier carrier oils are robust and difficult to remove for most panel prep or IPA (isopropyl alcohol) solutions. This can cause potential bonding issues for long term ceramic nano coating application due to carrier oils creating a barrier between the clear coat and the coating. This interferes with optimal bonding of the coating and the clear coat.
- Heavier carrier oils tend to ‘fill’ the paint, hiding the actual condition of the surface. So while the finish may look great after wiping off the final polish, if removed with a panel prep that can actually remove these oils, the finish is less appealing. Additionally, these fillers have the potential to pose bonding issues to ceramic nano coatings or other sealants.
- ‘Long Working’ compounds or polishes tend to have a much greater quantity of carrier oils within the liquid composition, further complicating the removal process.
Non Diminishing Abrasives Pair Perfectly with Short Buffing Cycles
Since the NDA particles do not lose their cut over the course of a buffing cycle, there is no need to work them for ‘long periods of time.’ In fact, by doing this is will be counterproductive to the paint correction process. This point is magnified when NDA’s are paired with microfiber pads and primed with product to coat each individual MF pile (strand). In this scenario, cutting occurs at an extremely fast rate. For this reason, a short buffing cycle is preferred to maximize cut and to minimize pad paint residue build up.
How to Optimally Polish with Non Diminishing Abrasive Liquids
Non Diminishing Compounds are designed to work fast and efficient. They cut constantly and consistently and are best when used with short cycles and frequent pad cleaning. Therefore, to optimize NDA correction capabilities on every paint system, a controlled test spot is essential to the process. With this methodology, a detailer can evaluate if: the combination of paint defects, severity of defects, the rate of material removal, liquid, pad, and machine choice all work effectively toward the desired result.
After determining the proper combination of machine, pad, and liquid detailers can calculate how many passes are generally required to refine the finish. This serves as a process baseline, or general guideline, for the entire vehicle. There is zero efficiency in blindly ‘long working’ a liquid to 8-12 passes when the job could have been done in 3-4. This is what the test spot methodology is about, finding the most efficient combination of product, pad, machine, and process for the project.
Why Non-Diminishing Abrasive Paint Correction Liquids are best overall for Paint Correction:
In short Non Diminishing Abrasives are King of Paint Correction due to:
- Greater Efficiency (quickly removing defects & consistency during polishing cycle)
- Quality of Polishing (due to reducing the # of active variables during polishing)
- Labor time savings + prolonged pads and machine use = Greater Profitability
- Heat Reduction during Polishing Eliminates or Reduces Many Paint Related Issues
- Safer for Painted Surfaces due to less time polishing & ease of removal
Final Thoughts on Non Diminishing Abrasives
If the Goal of Paint Correction is to quickly obtain the best results in the least amount of time while being safest on the paint; then pairing Non Diminishing Abrasives with Short Buffing Cycles is the best procedure. With this methodology, both greater profitability and higher quality results will occur while lessening user fatigue and total time to complete jobs.
These results and profitability are the ‘holy grail’ of polishing which detailers are constantly looking for. It exists, however does not simply occur with products alone, as many chemical manufacturing companies may claim. Instead it requires mentally understanding the relationship between: the type of correction liquid, pad choice, machine choice, paint dynamics, procedures, and client preferences for the job at hand. This takes time, training, and a constant discipline to achieve, requiring effort and practice.
Keep on Buffin’
© Christopher Brown of OCDCarCare Los Angeles – OCDCarCare.com – 2018
For more auto detailing and car care related topics please browse: OCDCarCare Los Angeles’s – Auto Detailing Article Archive
His passion & dedication to car care lead him to writing in-depth articles about detailing in order to share with the car enthusiast & detailing communities. This lead to detailing training courses designed to develop skills, confidence, and results, enabling detailers to increase quality, efficiency, and profitability.
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