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What is a Dual Action polisher

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A Dual Action polisher is a polishing machine that uses a circular motion combined with a spinning motion to create a rational double action. This motion is useful when polishing a surface by machine. The Dual Action polisher is famed for being easy to work with, making it ideal for beginners.

Dual Action

Dual action
Dual action

The Dual Action polisher, uses a double motion for polishing. Not only does the backing plate spin in a circular motion around its axle, it has an off-center connection that makes the backing plates “shake”. This creates very small circular motions while rotating on its axle. This motion resembles the motion many people make when they are polishing by hand. When polishing, or applying wax, by hand, most people make small circular motions with their hand while also moving from left to right, forwards or backwards. If you would change ‘left to right’ into ‘a circular’ motion, you would basically make the same motion as the Dual Action polisher.

Dual Action, DA, Off-centre

Dual action polisher
Dual action polisher

The DA polisher has several names. These all describe the same machine, but emphasize a different aspect or jargon of its unique properties. Most common names are:

  • Dual Action, DA
  • Orbital machine polisher
  • offcenter, off-center polisher
  • Buffer (although this isn’t technically correct)
  • excentric, excentrical polisher
  • Multi action, multi motion polisher

Differences between Dual Action polishers

The main difference between DA polishers is the setup for the dual movement. Some of the more common difference among the machines are:

  • Wattage (power)
  • Minimum or maximum size backing plate
  • Speed control
  • Weight
  • Maximum and minimum speed of rotation
  • Shape
  • Throw (distance of the “shake” motion)

A more important difference between machines is the way it creates the dual action movement.

Forced dual action rotation movement

In this setup, the dual action movement is forced. This means that the backing plate will only move in an excentric motion if it moves at all. It is not capable of movement without the orbital movement. This is very useful when you want have more control over the cutting power or when you need a bit of extra power to work with. Unfortunately it also increases the risk at doing damage to the surface. Because the motion of the pad is forced, it will keep making its dual motion, even if the heat of the friction (due to increased pressure) is becoming to high. It will literally tear itself OR the paintwork apart if not controlled by an experienced detailer. It is highly recommended to only switch to this form of setup after having experience with machine polishing.

Free dual action rotation movement

In this setup, the mechanism that creates the dual motion is linked via a bearing. This means that the backing plate is not forced to make the circular motion. The axle will still turn, but the bearing allows it to turn without the backing plate turning with it. However, do to the centripetal force created, the backing plate will still “shake”. Meaning there is still a slight form of motion happening. This can be considered a safety mechanism. When there is too much pressure, the backing plate or polish pad gets caught, the backing plate will stop rotating, but only keep on “shaking”. This prevents the build up of heat from friction, reduces the amount of polishing action happening on the surface and will prevent the motor burning through. This is one of the reasons why a Dual Action polisher is very suitable for first time detailers who have only just began to learn about polishing. More experienced detailers will probably make the transition to a forced orbital movement, and only use the DA polisher for finishing.

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