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Tag Archives: car clearcoat

4 + 2 things car painter and a doctor have in common (revisited)

I wrote this article almost 7 years ago in February 2013, and since then many of our readers referred to it, and, actually, used it in the business presentations and discussions across refinishing industry. It is always fun to make comparisons of incomparable things. After the years, I came across of two more things, which are similar in both trades. I hope you will find those interesting addition to the list.

One could say that there is hardly anything in common between collision repair facility and, let’s say, your family doctor’s office. Well, probably it is true to some extent. Nevertheless, besides the fact that some auto paint professionals are called “car skin doctors”, there are some professional attributes we should borrow from doctors.

  1. Place your professional certificates on some prominent place.

Next time you will visit your doctor, pay attention to the walls of his cabinet. I am pretty sure that his diplomas and certificates will be right behind him nicely framed! It is not a show off, but a well understood practice to assure a patient that he is in the right place for treatment.

Car refinishing professional also spends considerable amount of time to learn the craft. Wether he graduated from technical school or attended a number of professional seminars or has been certified by the car colour company, he had acquired quite a few documents certifying his knowledge. So, my advice is to clean the dust from your professional certificates and to place them on the nice spot of the body shop, or even better in your office!

  1. Find some place for the office.

Imagine that you need a minor surgical operation to be done (a really small one). You come to the place to schedule the date with your surgeon, and he admits you… right over the operation table. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?

Believe it or not, but exactly the same applies to any collision and body repair shop. There should be a place, preferably separated from the noise of working compressor or sanding machine, where painter could discuss with a customer all the procedures, costs and, perhaps, additional services to be offered. Let’s face it, selling your service standing in the middle of noisy and dusty body shop, doesn’t look very professional!

  1. Keep the body shop clean as hospital.

I remember my feelings when during my trip to Zambia I looked for a medical help in one small place in the middle of nowhere. The doctor’s place was dirty and old, and I thought my fever probably is not so important, and I should leave or better run away, as soon as possible. Fortunately, most of the doctor’s cabinets are tidy, clean and well maintained. Otherwise how could we trust our health to such a doctor?

Now one could say, body shop is a working place, where old parts are removed, sanding dust is in the air, while spilled paint stains decorate every corner. Big mistake! Don’t expect your customer to respect you, if you don’t respect yourself the place you spend so much time every day. My advice is:

– Clean that dust from the floor, your tools, infrared dryers, and all the equipment. This will give preserve value of your investment and help to “fight” those nasty dust nibs you spend so much time to polish away.

– Remove all those old bonnets, cracked bumpers and smashed doors. You will be surprised how much bigger your body shop actually is.

– Devote one weekend per year to paint your walls. Nothing fancy, pure white or beige colour will refresh the look of your shop. Better mood everyday comes as bonus.

– Improve the lighting, clean your windows, and let the bright side of life in. Having better vision of the place to be repaired is always a big plus.

– Make some shelves and find place for all tools and consumables. One of the biggest problems with clear coat polishing and swirl marks I noticed all those years, was dirty polishing pads covered with sanding dust.

  1. Dress up and look professional.

Why do you think all doctors wear those nice white lab coats? Because they want to look professional, so they must dress up like a doctor. It is an attribute, rather than necessity. White coat inspires confidence.

I do believe that clean overall is a must, especially when you meet a customer. How customers will take seriously your business, if your working uniform is dirty and looks like rag?

  1. Don’t make diagnosis (estimates) over the phone

Have you ever met a doctor, who would give a patient his diagnosis over the phone? I haven’t, and I hope you neither. In order to find out what is wrong with one’s health, a doctor must see him, examine, probably prescribe some tests, and only then – make the diagnosis and proceed with treatment. This is exactly what should be done, when a customer calls you for an estimate and/or sends you the picture. It simply does not work this way. So, next time you receive a phone call for the repair quotation, just think of your physician first.

  1. Never stop learning.

Doctors never stop learning. They attend conferences, seminars and conventions throughout their whole professional career. Nobody would trust his health to a doctor, whose professional knowledge is based solely on the doctor’s degree studies some years ago. Similarly, a body shop professional should continue his professional education regardless of his or her years of experience. Vehicles change, materials change, tools change, so working on the repair “just the way we always do” is not good enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best polishing compound for a bodyshop is… 12 steps guide to find one for yourself.

etalon refinish

Probably when you think of car refinishing job, paint polishing is not the first thing to come up in your mind. Nevertheless, it is an important process for any collision repair specialist. Firstly, when a minor paint defect occurs, in 9  cases out of 10, you will need a compound and a polisher to fix the problem. Secondly, a full car detailing could and should be an additional service offered to a customer who walked through your shop’s door.

Consumption of a polishing compound varies from one shop to another. Usually the excessive use of a compound means two things: too many paint defects revealed during the inspection process or/and incorrect polishing process. I have seen an operator pouring a quarter of a bottle to polish a fender. Also, in certain markets with poor working conditions without a proper spraying equipment, painters have to wet-sand all the repaired surfaces to remove orange peel and numerous dust nibs. It comes with no surprise that in these cases polishing compounds’ and glazes’ consumption is sky-high. What I would like to share with you in this article though is a short guide how to pick up the right polish for you. This is not the advertisement for Etalon polishing system, and my tips come from my own experience and the extensive knowledge of my colleagues and employees.

 

  1. Examine the surface to be polished. Before you decide which compound to use (yes, it’s good to have a few compounds to choose from), you need to understand the condition of paint or clearcoat you will work on. In a bodyshop usually we use compound to remove paint defects, meaning that paint is fresh. Is is crucial to know if the clear was properly baked in accordance with the manufacturers technical data sheet. If you choose too aggressive compound on still soft clear, big chances are that you will end up with excessive haze and swirls. It has nothing to do with the quality of the compound, but with the clearcoat’s chemistry instead.

 

  1. Check what polishing pads do you have available. The quality of paint rectification depends on many factors, like the polish machine, compound used, pads the compound is applied with and, an operator’s skills,indeed. So, if you do not have a quality wool pad handy, then you may need to go for more aggressive polishing compound. While if you have only rotary polisher in your tool box (read the article about polishing machines here), then a choice of medium cut compound would be a reasonable choice for safe polishing.

 

  1. Check what abrasives you have at your disposal. Nowadays one can find in a body and paint supply shop a great assortment of micro abrasive products. It is not necessary any more to remove orange peel, for example, with a polishing compound only. If you choose a film based abrasive disc P1500 first, then rectify the surface with P2000 or P2500, the entire process will take 3 times faster than a compound only process.

 

  1. Assess the ambiance and surface temperature. In case you have high temperatures in your workshop, choose a liquid polishing compound (not a paste) with oily consistency. There are polishing compounds in the market which turn to dust within first minute of use. This occurs due the high solvent content in them. These solvents evaporate very quickly when temperatures are high. You will have to add more and more compound to keep working and face an unpleasant dust spreading around.

 

  1. Avoid compounds, which require added water. You can still find the products in the market, which require adding certain quantity of water before and during the work. It will create a lot of splashes and unnecessary cleaning afterwards.

 

  1. Avoid difficult to clean compounds. I have seen otherwise good products, which are very difficult to wipe off especially from rubber and plastic parts. Such polishes will either require meticulous masking job prior polishing or long time spent on cleaning the residues. No, thanks.

 

  1. Choose a polishing compound with the best cut/gloss ratio. The times when cutting compound was leaving almost mat surface are gone for good. As a matter of fact, you can find fairly cutting compounds which leave lustrous surface with a very high gloss level. Certain brands market such products as one-step. However, you should remember that on the dark colors you may still need a finish glaze with anti-hologram properties.

 

  1. Avoid polishing compounds with silicone. Check that a bottle has a “silicone free” or “bodyshop safe” tag on it. No need to explain why.

 

  1. Avoid polishing compounds with waxes or sealants. It is very popular amongst car detailers to use so called “two-in-one” polishes, which combine abrasive and waxing properties. In a bodyshop, however, the clearcoat, albeit properly dried, still “breathe” with solvents. We don’t want to seal the pores of the paint, while solvent is still making its way out. Generally it is advised not to apply any waxes or sealants within two weeks from the paint job to avoid dieback of the clear coat.

 

  1. Prefer a polishing system with only a few polishing products available. Some brands offer just one-product system, but from real life experience it is obvious that there is still no perfect single compound for all jobs. Likewise, do not be misled by systems with far too many products.

 

  1. Avoid compounds with fillers inside. In car care and cosmetics market you may see a great variety of the polishes with filling properties. Such a product doesn’t remove scratches, but rather mask them for a limited period of time (usually until the next proper wash). The last thing a professional car sprayer needs is the angry customer coming to the shop and spotting the places where a paint defect was. A real pro will remove the paint defect, not mask it.

 

  1. Do not choose the polishing system just because it’s cheap. The cost of polishing materials in the overall bodyshop repair bill is negligible, but the spent on compound might be too long to afford.

 

Bonus tip. If you want to compare to compounds, do it exactly under the same conditions; for instance, split a bonnet half by half and do your test with the same polisher, same pressure, time and pad type. Do not mix two compounds on one pad in order to avoid misleading results.

 

 

 

 

Automotive clearcoats survery. Thought provoking findings.

Without a doubt, clearcoat is the King of automotive refinishing materials. Well, paint is equally important, but it comes second. Let’s call it … the Queen. Paint is designed to match, but clearcoat … to shine. A safe guess would be that there are much more brands and varieties of clears in the market, then basecoat systems. Clearcoat, for every big or small refinish materials supplier, is the matter of pride, the reason for war (price war I mean) and the vehicle for sales growth. In fact, some fellow rivals in the industry virtually oblige their customers to buy the correspondent quantities of clears related to the paint consumed. Free market, you tell me…

As with other important components of autobody repair puzzle, there are many misconceptions about the clears. For example, “only high solid clears are good” or “low VOC” clearcoats outperform by all parameters their solvent packed cousins. Furthermore, every paint supplier claims that he or she knows what exactly a painter asks from his clearcoat, and, usually, low price is on the top of the list (it is not, check the below survey findings). Lack of transparency (we talk about clearcoat anyway) in our industry, plenty of questionable marketing and absence of standards (read the article on this issue here) confuse the main person in the trade – painter – completely. Therefore, I decided to launch a short 10 questions survey to clear up things about clearcoats.

In the below chart you can see the results of the above-mentioned survey. It consisted of 9 clearcoat characteristics, which the participants were asked to grade from 0 (unimportant) to 10 (extremely important). The last, 10th question was asking about brand/product, which our participants considered as benchmark in quality. The whole list is presented below as well.

Survey findings

Based on the collected answers and from the additional comments we received from the participants the following conclusions can be drawn.

  • The level of shine and gloss retention are the most valued properties of any clearcoat with almost 100% of the respondents gave it a sold 10.
  • Transparency of the clearcoat comes second. From the information we got, there are still a few clearcoats in the market, which are not completely transparent. Usually slight yellowish color is the biggest problem.
  • Ease of application, flow, productivity and consumption – all these parameters – are highly valued as well. Painters like “forgiving” clearcoats, which will not run or solvent pop in case of thicker than normal application. Similarly, clears with high productivity and relatively low consumption are popular too for obvious reasons.
  • Final hardness, chemical and UV resistance are very important to about 85% of the respondents.
  • Drying and flash off times and ease of anticipated buffing (removing dust nibs etc) is crucial for 80% of survey participants.
  • Surprisingly price and solids content (VOC compliance) clearly came the last.

Between the lines

While we had an opportunity to discuss with the survey participants, a few thought-provoking points, which are not depicted by the chart, came to the surface.

  • Price of a particular product is more important to re-sellers than to painters. Paint sprayers care less about price, and more about the result and ease of application.
  • Gloss retention is the biggest challenge for the manufacturers, because a lot of clearcoats in the market loose the shine after only a few days.
  • VOC compliance is the last clearcoat characteristic, a car sprayer considers before the purchase.
  • Among the products, considered as benchmark there are many so-called “non-premium” brands.

The list of cleacoat mentioned as benchmarks  presented below:

Mipa CC8

Spieshecker HS 8055

Novol Spectral Klar 565 VHS

4CR HS Rapid 7235 and 4CR 7262 UHS

Sikkens Superior LV

Debeer Supreme HS 420

Glasurit 255

Roberlo Premium 250HS

HB Body 496

Silco Airmaxx 9600

Etalon 970 UHS

Carsystem Speed Plus VOC clear

Troton Master HS

PPG Deltron D880

RM Crystal Top HS

 

Does your customer know what clearcoat do you use?

Recently I was a witness of the conversation between a housewife and an interior decorator (painter). What amazed me in this interaction, was how the painter justified his quotation for a job, explaining which materials he would be using and why. He was very detailed in his pitch, naming products, brands and providing very detailed description of the way he is treating his customer’s walls. After about 20 minutes he has got the job; the woman didn’t go further to request quotation.  Even though drawing parallels between different jobs is not always applicable, I think that auto body professionals can project the above said to their job, particularly on the way they give estimates to their clients.

Vehicle refinishing is a complex, multistage procedure. Each step is important, as well as materials used during the process. If you use quality materials (and I hope you do), why not providing your customer with some basic information about it. Remember, consumers in the era of fast and free information, know a lot more than in pre-internet period. They actually want to know details, names of the products and brands you will use on their precious vehicles. Do not be surprised if the client has already done some research and is waiting from you the assurance of high quality repair and materials used.

Explaining, within the logical boundaries, how you will repair the car to its pre-accident condition, is the best way to sell your service at a reasonable price. For example, if you are quoting a client, who received already another quotation from the competitor, do not start with the price at all. Instead, explain that you will take care about the vehicle’s anticorrosive protection, every sand-through will be treated with epoxy or etch primer, you will perform edge-to-edge blending and the clearcoat you use is top quality (let’s say Etalon Etaclear 970 UHS). Emphasize that the gloss will not go away, like some cheap clears out there, and that the client will not see his paint peeling off from the bumper, because plastic primer wasn’t applied. It is good to have handy some pictures of your previous jobs. If the customer’s car is red, explain how important is to apply high quality base coat and UV resistant clear, since red pigment is weak by nature and can easily fade out. Be specific, but don’t overplay with jargon. Speak plain English or whatever language you communicate in understandable manner.

However, do not blame any competitor. Never try to diminish others, because it may come as boomerang. Concentrate on your strong sides rather than speak about others’ mistakes.

In order to stand out from the crowd, to have healthy margins and to grow, you do not need extraordinary measures. By doing honest and professional repairs and communicating your way to customers, a painter will prosper. So, next time don’t forget to tell that you use Etalon Clearcoat!

Picture courtesy by Ray Penny

How to spoil the best clearcoat polishing job?

Cloud microfiber

Some of my
fellow colleagues may wonder what kind of question it is… Nevertheless, many of
us know the answer very well. The easiest way to spoil the shiny result after
hours of intensive clearcoat polishing is to wipe off the surface with
“whatever-rag-I-find-nearby”. During my career in automotive polishing, I have
seen a lot of techniques to polish a car with plenty of different compounds,
microabrasives and polishing tools. Quite a few things can go wrong, but the
worst mistake, from my point of view, is final wiping with dirty rag. All of a
sudden, nasty scratches appear from nowhere, ruining the result of mirror
glossy shine. So, if you want to know how NOT to spoil your polishing job, the
answer is simple-use quality MICROFIBER wipe instead!

Microfiber  history   


UK-icon

Some say
that microfiber thread was invented in Japan, mid-70s, other say that it was
first introduced in 1986 in England. What is more or less sure is that
microfiber wipes have been in use in automotive polishing and detailing
business since the beginning of 2000s. From that time we can find microfiber
cloth in more or less every place which cleans washes or repairs vehicles.

                                                                                                                                             
Japan-Flag-3-icon

What is
microfiber wipe?

 Probably many of you already have an idea what
wipe we can call “microfiber wipe”, but let me just elaborate a little bit on
this subject.

 

         
Microfiber
threads are 2 times finer than silk, 3 times finer than cotton, 8 times
finer than wool and 100 times thinner than a single strand of human hair

 

                                                                    
Image 5

         
When
woven together these fibers create a surface 40 times bigger than that of a
regular cotton fiber


Image 4

         
Microfiber
cloth absorbs 7-8 times its weight in liquids

         
Microfiber
wipes can be washed up to 1000 times, maintaining their absorption and cleaning
capacity

         
Microfiber
textile can clean a surface reducing the number of bacteria by 99%, against
conventional materials with only 33% reduction rate.

         
A
fiber to be considered “micro” must be less than 1.0 Denier, which is a measure
of thinness of fiber and stands for weight in grams of a continuous thread of
9000 meters long!

 

How to
distinguish real microfiber wipe for automotive applications in polishing and
cleaning?

Obviously
it is not so easy to distinguish a cheap wiping cloth and a high quality
microfiber wipe for professional use. Below you can find the major
characteristics of the professional microfiber, as well as some simple ways to
check what you have in your hands.

Professional
microfiber wipe characteristics are:

         
Professional
microfiber cloth is always a mixture of polyester and polyamide (nylon) fibers


Microfiber asterisc

         
Ideal
ratio between polyester and polyamide fibers is 70-80% to 20-30%. Polyamide
fibers are used as core of the hybrid fiber, while polyester is the outer skin.
Worth noting that polyester fibers are extremely good at oil absorption, while
polyamide fibers have extreme affinity to water

                                                
Image 2

         
Good
microfibers are split (actually it looks like asterisk) so that numerous wedges
are created instead of ordinary rounded surfaces of other fibers. As a result
dirt and liquid particles are trapped inside, and not pushed around, like with
the conventional wipes. In addition, during the process of fibers’ splitting,
the fibers are positively charged. Dirt and dust, due to their negative charge,
are attracted to the wipe, which retain the particles like a magnet.

         
Professional
microfiber wipes are very soft and never scratch the surface. Edges of such a
wipe are always carefully lined to avoid any risk of leaving traces after
wiping off or buffing polishing compound or glaze

         
High
quality microfiber wipes are made of only A grade yarn. The difference with B,
C or D grades is that the later are made of recycled plastics, which are rougher
and need to be treated with extra softeners during the production process. However,
excessive softener closes up the gaps in microfiber, leaving no space for dirt
and water retention.

         
After
cleaning or bugging the surface with microfiber cloth no lint or dust is left

         
Make
sure that you have a real microfiber wipe in your hands. Do not trust cheap
wipes sold in supermarkets.  In order to
determine if the microfiber has been made from split fibers, run the palm of
your hand over it. If it “grabs” the imperfections on your skin then it’s split
fiber microfiber cloth. Also, you can check it by pouring a small amount of
water on a surface, and using your microfiber wipe try to push water. If water
is easily absorbed, and not pushed forward, then you have a real thing in your
hands.

               Two little tips:   

       
Tip

         
Wash
your microfiber wipe in regular washing detergent, without fabric softener,
because oils in softener and softening detergents will clog up the fibers
making them less effective! No ironing needed!

                                     
Washing bubbles 2
Washing 1

         
When
using in car polishing process, use flat, shallow structure microfiber (like Etalon Microshine) wipe in
order to minimize risk of scratching clearcoat with trapped particles of
compound or dust.

NANOTEX 9611

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