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Machine Polishers

When you are polishing scratches or swirls out of your paint, it takes a lot of power and repetitive movement to create the abrasion needed to correct them. There are very few humans on the planet that have the power to polish away scratches and swirls by hand. And even those that do, are going to a long while to get it done. Considering the amount of repetitive motion required for it, it is more likely their shoulder or elbows would give in before the scratch does! Thankfully for detailers everywhere, machine polishers are here to supply the power and motion that our bodies just aren't capable of!

Machine polishers are essentially just hand-held tools with the sole purpose of spinning/oscillating extremely quickly even under heavy pressure. The motion that they create move the backing plate and pad in tight circles over the paint surface. This creates the motion that is needed for the abrasive particles in your polish or compound to abrade the entire surface evenly and efficiently. Sometimes these abrasives need more pressure to really be able to abrade like they need to, so machine polishers have enough power to keep the motion going even if you are applying a lot of downward pressure.

Machine polishers are split into two main categories, Dual-action (or orbital) polishers and Rotary (or circular) polishers. The difference between them is the pattern in which they cause the pad to spin.

 

Rotary Polishers

Rotary polishers make the pad spin around the center access point only. Kind of like how the earth spins around its own axis. Since the movement is more simple, rotary polishers can spin at much higher speeds than dual-action polishers and withstand a higher amount of downward pressure. This gives them the edge when it comes to buffing out swirls and scratches. The faster speeds and ability to apply more pressure makes it much easier for the abrasives in your polish or compound to quickly abrade the paint and level the surface.

However, there are downsides all of that power, speed, and pressure. Rotary polishers will definitely leave marring of its own behind that you will have to go over again to correct once the surface is level and scratch-free. Also, rotary polishers create a lot of heat on the paint surface due to the higher amount of friction. Combine this with the additional abrasive power and it is extremely easy to abrade too much and burn through the clear coat and paint! Rotary polishers also tend to be much more difficult to control, so using them properly has a steep learning curve.

 

Dual-action Polishers

Dual action polishers make the pad spin around the center of the pad AND orbit around the center axis of the polisher's head. This is motion is like how the earth spins around its own axis and orbits around the sun at the same time. This allows the pad to cover more area, much more quickly, allowing you to polisher entire panels in nearly half the time it would take with a rotary polisher. This motion also spreads out the heat and abrasion to a wide area, greatly reducing the risk of burning through and leaving marring behind. These factors give dual-action polishers an advantage when it comes to creating a smooth and glossy finish.

The trade off with dual-action polishers is that they are not as capable of correcting severe scratches, swirls, and imperfections. Since the movement is more complex and spread over a wider area, if you apply too much pressure, the pad will stop orbiting and spinning all together (except in the case of gear driven dual-action polishers like the FLEX XC 3401). Also, since the power is spread across a larger area, the abrasive ability at any one point is going to be less than it would be with a rotary polisher. This means that it generally takes dual-action polishers much longer to correct imperfections. The reduced power does, however, make dual-action polishers much more user-friendly and easier to control than their rotary counterparts.

 

When it comes down to it, which type of machine polisher is best for you comes down to your own personal level of skill and what you are trying to accomplish. As a general rule of thumb, rotary polishers are better if you are trying to remove severe imperfections and dual-action polishers are better if you want to provide a smoother and glossier finish. If you do use a rotary polisher to correct imperfections, following it up by polishing with a less abrasive polish and a dual-action polisher is good practice.

Whichever polisher you choose, you should always take the time to practice with the machine polisher and get a feel for its power, balance, strengths, and weaknesses before taking on any serious detailing job using it!

Since no machine polisher, rotary or dual-action, is going to work without the proper backing plate, buffing pads, and polish/compound, make sure to check out our collections of these as well! Or consider looking at our collection of polisher kits that include everything you will need to start practicing with your new machine polisher!

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  • Griots Garage Griots Garage G9 Random Orbital Polisher

    Griot's Garage G9 Random Orbital Polisher

    Griots Garage
    $169.99
    Not sure if you'll like it? See what Mike Phillips has to say about itHERE!Take one for a spin and power your shine to new heights!Griot's Garage G9 Random Orbital Polisher is the innovative redesign of the Griot's Garage 6 Inch Random Orbital Polisher...
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    $169.99
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  • Griots Garage Griots G8 Mini Random Orbital Polisher

    Griots G8 Mini Random Orbital Polisher

    Griots Garage
    $144.99
    The smart handling orbital polishing perfecter!Looking for a quick and versatile polishing tool that can make its way to those hard-to-reach panels? Look no further than the Griot’s Garage G8 Random Orbital Polisher. The Griot’s Garage G8...
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    $144.99
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  • RUPES BigFoot LHR15 Mark III Random Orbital Polisher

    RUPES BigFoot LHR15 Mark III Random Orbital Polisher

    RUPES
    $455.00
    Unlock a whole new level of polishing perfection! The RUPES BigFoot polishers have been widely known and respected as some of the best and most versatile polishers ever since they first hit the market with the 15ES and 21ES. Since then, RUPES has been...
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    $455.00
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  • RUPES LHR 21ES Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher

    RUPES LHR 21ES Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher

    RUPES
    $335.00
    RUPES LHR 21ES Big Foot Polisher - Italian-bred random orbital polisher features the largest throw of any polisher available!  The RUPES LHR 21ES Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher sets the benchmark to which other random orbital polishers are...
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    $335.00
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  • RUPES LHR 15ES Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher

    RUPES LHR 15ES Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher

    RUPES
    $315.00
    RUPES LHR 15ES Big Foot Polisher - Italian-bred random orbital polisher features superb engineering for a perfect finish The RUPES LHR 15ES Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher sets the benchmark to which other random orbital polishers are compared. ...
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    $315.00
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  • RUPES LHR 75E Mini Random Orbital Polisher

    RUPES LHR 75E Mini Random Orbital Polisher

    RUPES
    $315.00
    An easier way to polish small and intricate body panels The RUPES LHR 75E Mini Random Orbital Polisher is a professional detailer's dream come true. You will finally be able to remove swirls and scratches from small and intricate body panels with speed...
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    $315.00
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  • FLEX XFE 7-12 3 in Mini Polisher - FREE SHIPPING

    FLEX XFE 7-12 3 Inch Mini Polisher

    FLEX
    $379.99
    Leave no panel of paint un-perfected!FLEX XFE 7-12 3" Mini Polisher is free spinning, 12mm random orbital polisher designed to remove swirls, scratches, and other paint imperfections for every surface on your car! Optimized for comfort and functionality,...
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    $379.99
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  • Cyclo Tool Makers Cyclo Orbital Polisher FREE BONUS

    Cyclo Orbital Polisher

    Cyclo Tool Makers
    $359.99
    Free for a limited time! Receive a 2 pack of Cyclo ProGuard Orbital Backing Plates when you purchase this Cyclo Orbital Polisher. A $44.99 value! Featuring Cyclo’s exclusive Vibration Elimination System! The Cyclo Orbital Polisher is the only...
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  • FLEX PE8 Kompakt Rotary Polisher

    FLEX PE8 Kompakt Rotary Polisher

    FLEX
    $222.99
    Precision polishing made easy!The FLEX PE8 Kompakt Rotary Polisher is a purpose-built polisher designed specifically for small, intricate body panels. The FLEX PE8 Kompakt Rotary Polisher is far less cumbersome than a full-size rotary polisher, making it...
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    $222.99
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  • FLEX The Finisher XFE7-15 Long Stroke Orbital Polisher

    FLEX The Finisher XFE7-15 Long Stroke Orbital Polisher

    FLEX
    $435.99
    The next big thing in the FLEX Polisher line up!The FLEX XFE7-15 150 Long Stroke Orbital Polisher is a free-spinning, dual action paint polishing machine that embodies everything that is “FLEX”. From the same manufacturer that brought you the...
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