In Part I of Why Choose UF Studio For Your Car’s Detailing Requirements we discussed the challenges faced when determining the most appropriate detailing service for your vehicle.
In Part II, we continue and begin with the intricacies of machine polishing!
Once the condition of a vehicle’s paintwork has been assessed and the types of defects identified, it’s time to move onto the machine polishing stages. First, though, the paint finish needs to be taken into account as this will influence the choice of machine polisher, compound and polishing pad.
Paint finishes are typically soft/sticky, moderate/intermediate or hard/scratch resistant, and various stages in between. Manufacturers from different regions are known for having certain types of paint finish – Italian paintwork typically is softer, particularly on older or classic models. Japanese paint finishes remain softer even on modern vehicles. German paintwork, however, is notorious for being highly scratch resistant.
Softer paintwork reacts differently to polishing than hard: soft paintwork tends to be easier to cut back and harder to refine as the softness encourages micro marring – fine scratches that undermine the clarity of the paint colour and the gloss of the finish. Conversely, harder paintwork is more challenging to correct but easier to refine. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
Machine polishers fall into two main categories: rotary, where the head spins directly from the spindle, and dual action (DA), where the head spins on a spindle which in turn oscillates. With a DA, the eccentric circular motion reduces heat build-up and friction with the paintwork, reducing micro marring, particularly on softer paintwork or when extensive paint correction is required. With a rotary, the heat build-up can be significant and without due care, there is a risk of burning through paintwork to the primer – an expensive mistake requiring a respray! With DAs, the offset ‘wobble’ of the head makes burning through paintwork less likely (but still possible!) so these are ideal for enthusiasts. Forced rotation dual action polishers retain the dual action but feature a geared backing plate driving the rotation and increasing cutting power, designed to be a half-way point between the safety of a DA and the power of a rotary. In years gone by, primarily professional detailers would use rotary polishers as they were more effective for correcting defects. However, significant advances have been made in DA technology and now many professional detailers prefer to work with DAs reducing the requirement for extensive refining processes.
Machine polishers are available with different sizes of ‘throw’ or orbit. Larger orbits are efficient when working on larger, flatter panels. Smaller orbits work better over smaller or contoured areas. Some polishers have smaller heads, concentrating the polishing action over a narrower area for better results. These smaller heads are ideal for polishing along narrow areas such as door sills, door pillars or around badges. Having access to these tools allows the detailer to produce a better final result than could be achieved using only one type of polisher.
Polishing Pads: The three main types of pads are Microfibre, Wool or Foam.
Microfibre pads generate a great deal of friction and are ideal for aggressive machine polishing, however, they can be tricky to use as the fibres quickly become clogged with clear coat and polish residues requiring regular cleaning. Mostly, microfibre pads are used on older and harder paint finishes and they tend to work best with dual action polishers rather than forced rotation or rotaries.
Wool pads also generate a great deal of friction and are therefore ideal for cutting back heavily marked paintwork particularly when used on a rotary polisher. They also work with forced rotation polishers but if used for refining, they’re most effective on a standard DA. Wool pads can be used on any type of paintwork including softer finishes and gel coats, typically found on caravans or boats. They work well on fresh paints and also on older paint finishes.
Foam pads are the best used for polishing and finishing. Available in a differing degrees of firmness; the firmer the pad, the greater its cutting ability whilst the softer pads are better for refining. Suitable for use on most paint types although not as effective as microfibre on hard finishes.
Compounds: There are many compounds available in a variety of grades, from heavy cutting to light jewelling. Many heavy and medium polishes contain diminishing abrasives where the abrasive particles that work to remove the paintwork blemishes break down to smaller particles the longer they are worked. This has the effect that the larger or deeper imperfections are eliminated by the bigger particles: as the particles diminish, they blend out the micro marring and start to restore gloss.
When machine polishing, choosing the right combination of machine, pad and compound is the key to doing the job well and removing the least amount of clear coat to get the job done. There is room to play with the combinations too, so a heavy cutting compound on a medium foam pad will have less cut than when used with a microfibre pad. These types of nuances take time and experience to learn and make all the difference when it comes to the final appearance of the finish. Matt Back, UF Studio
Along with selecting the right combination of pad, polisher and compound, there is also the question of selecting the correct speed for the work at hand – the slower the speed, the more control the detailer retains. A higher speed increases cutting ability and glossing. A slower speed combined with a greater number of passes may often be the optimum solution for tackling some paint issues.
Cars are not only constructed from metal – many parts are made from plastic or carbon fibre, such as bumpers, splitters, spoilers and roofs. These substrates behave differently from metal when machine polished as their thermal properties are different: metal is an effective conductor of heat so the heat generated by the machine polisher radiates away from the central point. Plastics and carbon fibre do not dissipate heat as effectively, so heat builds up more quickly. Too much heat can be problematic, causing paint to become ‘sticky’ or ‘grabby’, or causing a burn through spot. Understanding how these different substrates react is essential when using a machine polisher.
There are so many different elements to take into account when machine polishing and a professional detailer will be able to pull all of those elements together to get the job done with the minimal amount of clear coat loss as possible. A good detailer will know when to polish and when not to: there are some scratches that may be too deep to safely eliminate entirely when doing so would remove too much of the clear coat, leaving the area vulnerable to contamination staining the paint underneath. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
Ceramic Coatings: Once a car has been properly prepared, the finish needs protecting otherwise it will quickly become tired and dull again. Ceramic coatings are the most popular choice these days as they are highly durable and provide protection staining and acid rain etch, repel waterborne contamination such as dirt and grime, whilst also inhibiting brake dust and tar build-up. A number of ceramic coatings are available and in addition to these, UF Studio also has access to the most effective, durable ‘professional detailer only’ coatings. Professional-only coatings have certain properties that make them unsuitable for enthusiast application and require special training in the application methods. UF Studio offers the most advanced pro-only coatings available: Crystal Serum Ultra from Gtechniq along with Kamikaze Collection Zipang Coat and their flagship two-step coating, ENREI.
Gtechniq Crystal Serum Ultra (CSU) is a single stage coating that employs nanoparticles of two different sizes. As the coating cures, the single layer cures as two distinct layers: The lower one cures to a hardness of around 7H (measured on the pencil scale of hardness). The upper layer cures to around 10H. The smaller nanoparticles settle into the spaces the larger particles leave, similar to sand settling between gravel, filling up the spaces, anchoring the two layers together for comprehensive coverage. This results in a fully interlocked coating, the softer, more flexible lower layer combined with the hard upper layer provides superior swirl resistance. CSU is designated as a professional-only product due to a number of factors: all traces of water must first be eliminated from the vehicle. Any water that escapes from a tight area, such as along trim or badges, and that runs down the paintwork before the coating has cured will cause the coating to become milky and opaque, rather than optically clear. The CSU must be applied with ambient air temperature and humidity levels kept within strict parameters and the vehicle must be kept out of the elements for the initial curing period. Once cured, CSU is difficult to remove requiring aggressive machine polishing which, if attempted by a non-professional, could result in the clear coat sustaining damage. For all these reasons, CSU is available only as a service through Gtechniq trained and approved detailers.
Kamikaze Collection professional-only coatings are designated as such not only due to their tough finish and application environment requirements but also due to the application methods required to achieve optimum performance. Their two professional-only sealants are Zipang Coat and ENREI.
Zipang Coat is an innovative coating containing ultra-low molecular weight hydrocarbons producing a coating with extreme water repelling properties. Unlike many other ceramic coatings, Zipang has a self-levelling (self-healing) function: fine swirls are reduced with the application of heat, either from the sun, from a heat gun or from hot water.
ENREI is a two-stage coating comprising of No.1 Base Coat Primer and No.2 Top Coat. No.1 Base Coat Primer has been engineered with a high chemical affinity for both the clear coat and No.2 Top Coat. Anchoring itself to the clear coat, No. 1 Base Coat Primer ensures a smooth, uniform surface for No.2 Top Coat to adhere to. No.2 Top Coat provides a slick, hydrophobic surface that effectively repels water and waterborne contamination whilst providing an outstanding level of gloss.
Whilst many coating manufacturers rely solely on the engineering of the product to produce a resilient, durable, hydrophobic finish, Kamikaze Collection has taken it one step further: they’ve spent thousands of hours researching the application process, ensuring the coating is laid down in such a manner as to ensure comprehensive protection. As such, there are specific actions for applying the sealants and for removing the excess. As well as adhering to these methods, the coatings must also be applied in tightly controlled environmental conditions, with temperature and humidity within strict parameters. As a result, Kamikaze Collection pro-only coatings are available exclusively through their trained and certified network. As the exclusive UK representative of Kamikaze Collection International, UF Studio is responsible for training professional detailers who wish to join that network. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
Customers bringing their vehicles to UF can also benefit from a range of bolt-on services. In addition to offering treatments and protective coatings for alloy wheels, glass and fabrics, UF offer leather repair and recolouring services, restoring cracked, ripped or damaged upholstery, eliminating difficult stains such as those left by suncream or biro marks, and recolouring areas that have become faded by repeated UV exposure.
Leather care is a complex subject: modern leather is very different from that found on classic cars and therefore treatments vary. Even in modern cars, different manufacturers use different qualities of leather and some use vegan alternatives. Knowing what you’re dealing with is essential to ensure the upholstery is cleaned, repaired and protected effectively. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
It’s important that customers know when they bring their vehicle to UF, not only are they entrusting it to the care of highly trained detailers, but that through our network of car-centric experts, we offer a range of additional services to fit all of their requirements. – Jez Gilman, Managing Director, UF
If you’re considering having your vehicle’s appearance cosmetically enhanced and protected, or would like to discuss the most appropriate detailing treatment for your vehicle, call 0333 800 8004 or complete the online enquiry form here. UF Studio will provide a bespoke, no-obligation quote via email.
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