Buffing and Polishing Pads

Generally, we manufacture two types of buffing pads.  Within these two groups are sub groups of buffing pads that are different in respect to their composition, size and design.  The two main buffing pad groups are wool and foam pads.

Wool Buffing Pads

One category are buffing pads made from wool.  There are also blended pads; that is pads that have a mix of wool and synthetic materials.  Depending on the purpose, wool can be spun into various yarns, some are twisted, some are not.  For example, if a customer needs a buffing pad that is aggressive, we can offer him/her a buffing pad that is 100% twisted wool.  Twisted wool is considered aggressive in terms of cutting ability.  On the other hand, if a customer wants a buffing pad for final finishing or non-aggressive polishing, we can provide yarns that are non-twisted or made with a mixture of synthetic materials.  Buffing pads can be made for a specific purpose or multipurpose.  Our approach is to simplify the buffing system and we also suggest working with various car care chemicals, such as compounding, polishing and finishing products.  There is an obvious relationship between buffing pads and polishing compounds.  It takes time to learn how these products work with each other.  One thing is certain: wool is becoming more popular as paints are required to contain more solids and fewer solvents.   Wool is simply the faster medium when compared to foam pads, it cuts quicker.  Foam pads play a major role in buffing as well.  Generally, foam is considered most useful when finishing.   The rule of thumb is to start with a wool buffing pad and finish with a foam pad.

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Foam Buffing Pads

The second category of buffing pads we manufacture are foam pads.  Unlike wool pads, there are no blended foam buffing pads.  Foam pads are 100% foam, but they perform slightly different from each other on the basis of how they’re constructed.  Under a microscope, foam pads look like a bee’s honeycomb, small uniformly shaped cells.  The smaller the cells the more densely the construction, this type of foam pad would be considered less aggressive, thus it would be considered a finishing pad.  The opposite effect takes place if the foam cells were larger, or less dense.  This construction will cause the foam pad to be more aggressive, as in a compounding pad.  There are various grades of foam pads on either side of the aggressive or finishing scale.  We make up to six grades of foam pads; each represented by a different color.  Early on, foam buffing pad colors were standardized, however, more colors were added to the mix and now there is a broad band or examples.  Yellow, black and white are the most common colors across the board; however, our own range of colors has expanded to include blue and green.  We make many different size and configurations of foam buffing pads, ranging from 3” to 8”.  Our recognized labels such as center tee, ventilated or standard dome shape faced foam pads come to mind.  No job is too big or to small; we have the right selection with quality to match.  All of our pads are made of high strength reticulated foam.  In other words, the cells are open; this allows air to flow through the foam.  Chemical compounds and polishes require the right amount of air flow through the foam.   Open cell foam is ideal for this process to succeed.  Not only is closed cell foam not ideal, it is weaker structurally.

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European Foam Pads

Playing a minor role in the foam pad mix are the Euro foam pads, at least here in the USA.   The main difference between American made foam pads and European foam pads was the size, density and firmness of the foams. Euro foams are generally smaller, approximately 6” diameter on average.  In Europe, detail shops are a rare find; most buffing is done on small panel repair at the body shop level.  However, this is changing with the rising popularity of independent service stations offering detailing.  Furthermore, European paint has traditionally been high solid low solvent compositions; their foam pads worked well under their physically restrictive conditions.  The transition to conform to the new and ever changing environmental laws here was difficult at first, but technology caught up and eventually the impact on us was the discovery our wool pads worked wonderfully on the new paint, better than European foams, especially with the initial cut.
















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Application Charts

BUFFING FOAMS

Buffing and polishing your car with foam pads has been around for many years.  Foam pads work allot differently than wool pads as far as cut, feel and performance.  There are many new technological advances in the foam pad industry and I am writing this to help give you more information so you are able to choose the correct foam for your next job.

There are many ways to identify foam pads in the industry.  PPI is a generic way of distinguishing foam, but not the 100% correct way.  Since there are so many ways to measure foam, we are going to start here with the basic.

OPEN CELL and CLOSED CELL

The first and basic thing to understand about foam is whether it is open or closed cell.  Many open cell foams start out as closed cell and are “reticulated” to produce open cell.  “Reticulation” is a process used in processing foam where they take the bun of foam, put in in a concrete and controlled room, fill the room with hydrogen so the foam can absorb it, and then they ignite the foam.  This process causes the membrane or window of the foam to wrap around the branches.  The window/membrane on foam is the transparent thin layer in between the branches.  The branch is what you feel by hand in the foam when you touch it.  If you look at foam under a microscope, you will see the branches and windows.  Foam that has been reticulated is open cell and foam no reticulated is closed cell.

Once you reticulate a foam it may become stronger in its tearing characteristics.  Reticulated or “open cell” foam run much cooler on the surface as compared to closed cell foams.  The reason for this is that with the cells being open, they are allowed to let air pass thru them to dissipate heat.  With this happening, there may be a chance the chemical you are working with may dry faster and possibly dust since the lubricant in it is getting dried with the air passing thru the foam.

 There are Pros and Cons to each of the foams, and each type works differently with all chemicals:

Keep in mind that not all foams work the same way with all chemicals.  In many instances, it can be trial and error.

There are many other ways foams are measured, this is just a starting point so you are able to pick the best foam for your project.

 

APPLICATION CHARTS ARE COARSES TO FINE

US FOAMS
WHITE 45 PPI HEAVY CUT
YELLOW 50 PPI MEDIUM CUT
GREEN 60 PPI POLISHING
BLUE 70 PPI  SOFT POLISHING
BLACK 80 PPI FINISHING
SOFT WHITE 90 PPI ULTRA FINISHING
BABY BLUE 100 PPI  FINAL FINISHING

EURO FOAMS
YELLOW HEAVY CUT
ORANGE MEDIUM CUT
WHITE POLISHING
BABY BLUE SOFT POLISHING
RED ULTIMATE FINISHING

EXTREME RETICULATED FOAMS
COARSE GREEN EXTREME CUT
COARSE ORANGE MEDIUM CUT
MAROON POLISHING
RED FINISHING

URO-TEC “OPEN CELL”
COARSE BLUE HEAVY CUT
MAROON MEDIUM CUT
YELLOW POLISHING
WHITE FINISHING

URO-CELL “CLOSED CELL”
LIGHT BLUE CUTTING
ORANGE POLISHING
RED FINISHING

STANDARD WOOL PADS
100% WOOL 4 PLY NATURAL CUTTING
WOOL BLEND SINGLE PLY NATURAL MEDIUM CUT
WOOL BLEND 4 PLY TWIST YELLOW MEDIUM CUT/POLISHING
WOOL BLEND SINGE PLY WHITE POLISHING
WOOL BLEND SINGLE PLY YELLOW POLISHING/FINISHING
KNITTED WOOL BLEND  LIGTH POLISH/FINISHING
KNITTED 100% WOOL NATURAL FINAL FINISHING

INDUSTRIAL WOOL PADS
ALTERNATE STITCH DUAL STRAND WOOL BLEND AGGRESSIVE CUTTING & LONG LASTING