What exactly is polishing?
Polishing is essentially removing surface scratches and imperfections to the point where the finish is reflective. When a part is dull looking, it has scratches that prevent light from reflecting off of it. The act of polishing is to smooth out these scratches so light can reflect off the part and give you that brilliant shine. This process can be done on plastics, metals, and wood.
What is the process of polishing?
The first step is to remove any dirt, grease, paint, or anything on the surface of the part. This can be done with a degreaser or paint stripper. The next step is to smooth out scratches and scrapes. The quickest way for this step is with an sandpaper disc on an orbital or dual action sander. Once the major scratches are removed, the finer scratches are buffed out with increasingly finer grits of sandpaper until the surface is smooth, but dull. To achieve a shine out of the plastic, we move onto the polishing wheels. The wheels used in this step are commonly made from cotton or flannel, and are combined with a compound, a wax like substance. The compound carries the abrasive that helps smooth the surface.
How long will a polished finish last?
It all depends on how much the part is being used and how well it’s maintained. A polished part sitting in a garage will only need an occasional touch up. However, a part that is exposed to dirt and water and being used weekly will result in scratches and stains.
What can I do to protect a polished finish?
It is not recommended to use a clear coat over plastic, since the durability is not great and it poses a larger problem once it needs to be stripped off. A good temporary protectant is the Cerakote Rapid Ceramic Sealant.
It is advised that you wear protective equipment while polishing. Some of the compounds and particles that are airborne while sanding and polishing can be harmful to your lungs and skin over time with no protection. Don’t take it lightly. Wear a dust mask or respirator, safety glasses, and thick gloves. A face shield and shop apron are helpful as well.
Pryme stocks all of the necessary items to polish plastic.