Dual Action Polisher - Pads

Dual-Action Polishers

The head of a dual-action polisher, has, as the name implies, two simultaneous motions--it spins in a rotary motion AND oscillates (vibrates) about the center of the head.  We learned that it is the pad spinning that creates heat and friction and the potential for problems if the rotary polisher is used incorrectly.  But since the spinning head of a dual-action polisher is married to the secondary movement of oscillation, the potential for damage to the paint surface is greatly reduced.  The spinning cannot create too much heat or friction because it is never concentrated over one place.

The motion of the head of a dual-action polisher is similar to moving your hand in large circles across the paint surface, kind of like the way people used to put on paste wax by hand.

As mentioned earlier, the common term in the industry for the simple rotary machine is “high-speed” polisher or buffer.  The funny thing is that many dual-action machines run at revolutions per minute (rpm) that are actually higher than anyone would ever run on a simple rotary machine.  Because of the oscillation component of the dual-action polisher’s motion, however, friction and heat can virtually never build up to the point of causing damage.

Another design fact that greatly reduces the risk of technical paint damage is the fact that the dual-action spinning can be stopped by pressure.  You can demonstrate this yourself by placing a solid mark using a black marker at one point on the backing plate.  As you use the polisher across the paint surface, you will notice that the black mark spins at different rates depending on the amount of contact and pressure of the pad to the paint surface.  If you press hard enough, the black mark WILL stop moving.

There are a wide range of dual-action polishers available, varying in head size and speed.  There are even some with two heads, the advantage of which is the ability to work a much wider area at a time than a single head model.

How do you tell the difference between a random-orbital and dual-head polisher?  The head of a powered-off dual-action polisher will spin freely with little or no resistance if you grab it and rotate it by hand.

So, the dual-action polisher is great for polishing to remove minor paint defects with no fear of paint damage or swirls.  It’s also great for wax or sealant application.

In recent years, there have been some new developments in dual-action polisher technology that have made them nearly as powerful as rotary polishers while still remaining relatively safe from the pitfalls of the rotary.  The two main developments have been the Long-throw or High-action polisher and the gear-driven/forced rotation polisher.