Your car’s finish — it’s what makes the first impression and lets people know just how much you value and appreciate your car. As such, it has got to be as smooth and sleek as possible. But it doesn’t take a car professional to understand that detailing isn’t just about appearance and protecting your car’s surface. A truly remarkable polishing compound needs to be able to counteract years of contact with chemical and physical stressors; fluctuations in temperature, UV rays, moisture, salt, etc. all have an effect on your vehicle’s surface.
For professional detailers also factors like how the compound reacts in treatment, is it easy to be used, not too dusty and good to be wiped off. How is such a compound developed and produced? To answer all of these questions, we’re giving you a sneak peek into our research and development processes.
Something good got better
All good polishing compounds start as a good idea. And that’s exactly what the development team at the Koch-Chemie headquarters in Unna, led by Dr. Michael Hauber, has endeavoured to achieve — ideas for professional quality. Not all research and development brainstorming leads to the creation of a completely new product. Outstanding new polishing compounds are often created through small improvements on an already existing product. A lot of the time, the difference only becomes clear to our customers when the satisfaction of their polishing efforts is attained faster and with enhanced results.
It’s when this happens that Dr. Hauber & Co. recognise a successfully change to their polish formula. Which brings us to another prerequisite for an outstanding polish — high-quality ingredients. Here at Koch-Chemie, we examine a wide variety of products from several different suppliers before choosing only the best base ingredients for our polishing compounds. Incidentally, the main ingredient of our polish is aluminium oxide, which ensures the removal of weathered and scratched paint layers.
Putting the theory to the test in the “Polish Technicum”
Let’s delve a little deeper with an insight into a typical day in the research and development department. Together with Michael Hauber, Axel Schnarrenberger and chemical laboratory technician Nico Rebbert are working on an idea to further improve a polish. All of their efforts have been directed towards eliminating the microscopic pits in painted surfaces that effect gloss level. They are attempting to find the perfect combination of exclusively the finest ingredients to bring heavily-weathered paint surfaces back to life.
What follows the preliminary deliberations is a precise and quantifiable science. With a specific goal in mind — such as the development of a polish that allow customers to achieve an even glossier surface in less time — the team sets clear parameters for attaining this goal. With the appropriate parameters as a guideline, they begin mixing together various ingredients to form a prototype polish. Sometimes, just a little more of this or that, or the inclusion of a particular mineral is all it takes to create the perfect mixture.
The team runs tests in a “polish technicum” in order to examine the effects of various levels of different ingredients in practice. This professional testing environment is equipped with buffers, pads in all conceivable shapes and sizes, and — also importantly — excellent lighting. At the centre of it all is an entire car and several individual metal sheets: the test surfaces. Dark paints are known for their sensitivity, showing even the smallest of scratches, which is why the test surfaces are painted in the blackest of blacks imaginable.
Dull, weathered surfaces reclaim their high gloss shine
The team gets down to business — and starts by destroying the mirror-smooth paint of the test objects. This is essential in order for them to achieve a starting point that matches real-life conditions: a weathered, painted surface covered in microscopic scratches. This is done with a 2000-grit Abralon pad. Stretched over a pneumatic polisher, the pad turns the beautiful gloss of the black metal sheets into a dull matt. The team then applies test polish after test polish, each time with an exactly specified method — from the type of polishing machine and pad right down to the number of revolutions — bringing the dull, worn surface back to its high gloss shine.
These tests are the most important part of the development of new polishes, because each combination of ingredient shows a different set of results. These differences are small but essential. They are discerned through the use of a detailing light for paint correction and an expertly trained eye. The development team uses a variety of criteria to judge the quality of the polish. These include the time it takes to bring life back to the dull finish, the cut, the level of shine, the sleekness of the polished surface and others more.
Making the cut
Only those products that meet the strictest of criteria make the cut. Exactly what this entails is our secret to keep, but we are willing to reveal one thing: Even with decades of experience in concocting polishes, the development team still doesn’t come up with the perfect mixture right away. It takes a lot of stamina and patience to get a polish into series production at Koch-Chemie.
After all, our clients are professionals who are impressed by high performance, not words. Only a carefully developed product can achieve this. The next step in the process is production. Read more about this process in our article “Shine in a Bottle”.