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Dual Action & Rotary Polishers - What's The Difference?

When it comes to choosing a machine polisher, one of the most frequent questions our customers ask us is: "What is the difference between a dual action (DA) polisher and a rotary polisher?" It's a very good question and for those just starting out with a machine polisher, the answer is very important! Rotary Machine Polisher

Rotary Polishers are very straightforward - the head spins on a single axis in a regular circular motion. This causes heat and friction to build up allowing the user to perform paint correction processes. Rotary Polishers will remove marks in paintwork that dual action polishers cannot. Rotary polishers can achieve this by generating more heat in a concentrated spot. This does come with a drawback however, rotary polishers are much more likely to burn through paintwork if used incorrectly.

Dual Action Machine Polisher

Dual Action Polishers (or DA Polishers as they're more commonly shortened to) spin in 2 different ways: the head spins in a concentric circular action on a spindle which in turn spins in a wider circulating motion. An analogy would be the motion of our planet: the Earth spins on its own axis (as the backing pad spins on the top of the spindle) at the same time as moving in an orbit around the sun (as the spindle spins around on the DA). The resulting oscillation creates a "wobble" which prevents excess heat and friction build up, but still allows enough such that light to moderate paintwork blemishes can be removed. This makes a DA the perfect choice for the amateur enthusiast looking to keep the car looking 'tip top' but without the worry of a potential re-spray!

Gear Driven Machine Polisher

Some pricier DA polishers have a "positive drive action". They still boast the "wobble" for heat and friction dispersion but the "wobble" is actually driven, rather than being a random oscillation. The engineered forced rotation action results in far superior results (in less time) to a similar level to a rotary polisher, but the dual action means it's still really safe to use, even for the new-user.

So which one is right for you?

Choose a Dual Action Polisher if:

  • You want to take a few swirls and light scratches out of your paintwork
  • Use it regularly to maintain your paintwork
  • Want something that is easy to use
  • You don't want to worry about burning through paint or adding holograms to it

Choose a Rotary Polisher if:

  • You have serious paintwork blemishes you really want to remove
  • You have some time to get to grips with the way the machine works
  • You want to become a professional detailer

Choose a Positive Drive DA Polisher if:

  • You want the results achievable from a rotary with all the safety of a DA!
  • Don't mind something a little bulkier

At Ultimate Finish you can find all the accessories you need to complete the job at hand with our extensive portfolio of machine polishes and glazes, sealants and waxes as well as machine polishing pads, detailing bags and accessories, paint depth gauges, lighting, etc.

Choose from the biggest names in detailing machine polishers including Rupes, Flex, DAS6 and more. Read our more in-depth comparison here.