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  1. #1
    Director of Training Mike.Phillips@Autogeek's Avatar
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    Making the Metallic Flake Pop! - Popping versus Muting

    Making the Metallic Flake Pop! - Popping versus Muting



    One of the goals everyone has that owns a car with a metallic finish is to figure out how to make the metalflake pop.


    Pop Definition
    By the word "pop", people mean make the pretty, reflective shiny flakes in the basecoat easy to see through the clear coat.
    Because the majority of all cars with a metallic paint job have a clear coat over them, there's no way to physically affect the actual metallic flakes under the clear layer of paint. So to get the metallic flake to POP you want to do two thing, the first is the most important.

    1. Maximize the clarity of the clear coat
    2. Maximize the smoothness of the clear coat
    Maximize the clarity of the clear coat
    The way you maximize the clarity of a clear coat finish is you remove as many of the topical and sub-surface defects as possible without compromising or abrading through the clear layer finish.

    This is done through a combination of the below,

    • Wetsanding to remove defects and orange peel
    • Compounding to remove deeper below surface defects like swirls, scratches and water spots
    • Polishing to either refine the results from the compounding step or remove shallow below surface defects like swirls, scratches and water spots where a true compound isn't needed.
    Maximize the smoothness of the clear coat
    The way you maximize the smoothness of the clear coat finish is by removing any above surface bonded contaminants as possible and if you have enough paint on the car, then to remove as much orange peel or surface texture like mottling as possible without compromising or abrading through the clear layer finish.

    Keep in mind, anytime you wetsand paint, which removes paint, you're then going to have to compound and polish the paint and both of these procedure will also remove paint, so it's vitally important that you are working on a custom paint job or you have the experience, skill and confidence to carefully wetsand a factory finish.

    Maximizing the smoothness is done through a combination of the below,

    • Claying the paint or using a product like the Speedy Surface Prep Towel to remove above surface bonded contaminants
    • Wetsanding or dampsanding to remove orange peel, surface texture, mottling
    • Compounding to remove and/or level surface imperfections
    • Polishing to either refine the results from the compounding step or remove shallow below surface defects like swirls, scratches and water spots where a true compound isn't needed.
    Obviously, between the two different goals of maximizing clarity and smoothness there are some overlapping procedures that you can do and which procedures you use will always be determined by the paint itself and your skill level.

    Wetsanding paint should be reserved for custom paint jobs where the top coat of clear paint is purposefully sprayed on thicker by the painter because he knows the paint will be wetsanded. Wetsanding can be used by professionals and serious enthusiasts for factory paint jobs if and when the desire is strong enough to overcome the hardness and thinness factors that make sanding factory paint risky.

    Besides wetsanding though, the majority of us can safely do the following relatively safely,

    • Claying or using a product like the Speedy Surface Prep Towel to remove above surface bonded contaminants.
    • Compounding.
    • Polishing.
    Making the metalflake pop!
    Below are the results from the Test Spot I performed to an all original 1968 Firebird Convertible except that it has been repainted with a basecoat/clearcoat finish.

    When the car arrived I inspected the paint and documented with video and hi res pictures that the clear layer was in fact filled with swirls and scratches and this was clouding the clear layer hiding the beauty and definition of the metallic flakes in the basecoat.

    My Test Spot not only was used to prove my paint polishing system but to also show the owner what the paint could truly look like and in the process make the metallic flake pop.

    If you have a metallic or metal flake paint job on your car, truck or suv, you can too can get the metallic finish to pop by evaluating the finish and then doing the practical and safe procedures appropriate to your car's finish and your skill level and maximize the clarity and smoothness of the clear coat.



    For this project we used,
    Optimum Hyper-Compound
    Optimum Hyper-Polish
    Optimum Car Wax
    Lake Country 5" Hybrid Pads
    Lake Country 5.5" Hydro-Tech Pads
    Flex 3401 Forced Rotation Dual Action Polisher
    Griot's Garage 6" Random Orbital Polisher
    Porter Cable 7424XP

    Any quality compounds, polishes, pads and tools will create the same results.


    Test Spot Results

    I taped off a section in front of the 400 emblem on the air scoop and then buffed on each side of it.





    Restoring clarity makes the metallic flake pop
    The left side is the before side, the right side is the after side. Millions of fine swirls and scratches act to make the top clear layer of paint hazy and opaque, this hides the metallic flake in the basecoat.





    In the below shots you can see by where the overhead florescent lights are reflecting on the paint where the paint is hazy and where the paint is clear.








    Here's the high resolution pictures of the hazy, swirled-out paint before we duplicated the process used for the Test Spot.












    Here's the high resolution pictures of the paint after we maximized clarity and smoothness. Now the metalflake in the basecoat pops!












    So if you want to really make the flake in your car's finish pop, focus on maximizing clarity and smoothness to the top, clear coat layer of paint.

    This can be done by hand but it's best done by machine.


    You can find the full write-up, process and pictures in the below thread,

    Video and Pictures: 1968 Firebird Detailing Class at AutogeekOnline.net





    Mike Phillips
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  2. #2
    Director of Training Mike.Phillips@Autogeek's Avatar
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    Re: Making the Metallic Flake Pop!

    Making the Metallic Flake Pop!

    Here's another example of making the flake in a metalflake finish pop by maximizing clarity and smoothness...


    Before
    In these before shots, you can barely see that this is in fact a multi-color metalflake finish.












    After
    We put this paint through a claying, machine compounding and polishing process using the Optimum Hyper-Compound and Hyper-Polish like we used on the 1968 Firebird but instead of using Optimum Car Wax for the LSP we used Opti-Coat II

    Now the flake POPS!


















    Again, all we did was maximize the clarity and gloss of the clear coat and we were able to make the metallic flake pop.


    You can find the entire write-up, process and pictures for this 1977 Can Am Corvette here,

    1977 Can Am Corvette - Modeled by Amy and Janna - Pictures and Video!








    Mike Phillips
    Host - Competition Ready on Velocity Channel
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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  3. #3

    Re: Making the Metallic Flake Pop!

    How about this for metallic flake?!



    Swirl free and LSP'ed with Souveran
    Waxin' Willys Detailing
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  4. #4
    Senior Member rider9195's Avatar
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    Re: Making the Metallic Flake Pop!

    Nice flake guys!

    I'll play along too!

    Ryan 2006 Volvo S60 R

  5. #5
    Senior Member Klasse Act's Avatar
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    Great write-up Mike, as usual and its always about prep! I went to town on my car the day after I got it and from there, just kept it clean and layered modern products on it, for example BFWD and BFCS and I must say these products make the metallic in my paint look "3D" or "floating" there!

    Sent from my SPH-M930 using AG Online
    2013 Abarth/Polish-LSP count...(23-39-22)
    Some say..."He likes Swedish fish because they're made with caranuba wax"

  6. #6
    Director of Training Mike.Phillips@Autogeek's Avatar
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    Re: Making the Metallic Flake Pop!

    Quote Originally Posted by wgilles View Post
    How about this for metallic flake?!

    Quote Originally Posted by rider9195 View Post
    Nice flake guys!
    Looks good! How did you get it that way?


    Popping versus Muting
    Kind of the bigger point of this thread is that it's not the wax, sealant or coating that makes metallic flake pop, it's getting the clear coat clear.

    I see forum members always talking about how some waxes make the flake pop while other waxes make the mute the flake but if you want the flake to pop you first have to start with being able to see it.

    Seeing it comes down to making the clear layer of paint as clear as possible.

    Then as long as you use ANY quality wax, sealant or coating, your LSP should amplify the clarity results of your polishing work.


    Mike Phillips
    Host - Competition Ready on Velocity Channel
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  7. #7
    Senior Member rider9195's Avatar
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    Re: Making the Metallic Flake Pop! - Popping versus Muting

    I used my Porter Cable 7424 XP. Paired that with a black pad and CG P40 Polish and lots of time and patient. This was my first go at really using a finishing polish to make flake pop. I need to mess around with camera settings to show how the flake looks and how the paint has a purplish tint in the sun. Magic Blue is a cool color.
    Ryan 2006 Volvo S60 R

  8. #8
    Senior Member david79z28's Avatar
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    Re: Making the Metallic Flake Pop! - Popping versus Muting

    How do you guys get those results around, in, and in between the emblems?

    It looks like they were put on after he car was polished.

    I know that's not the case though.

  9. #9
    Director of Training Mike.Phillips@Autogeek's Avatar
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    Re: Making the Metallic Flake Pop! - Popping versus Muting

    Quote Originally Posted by david79z28 View Post
    How do you guys get those results around, in, and in between the emblems?

    It looks like they were put on after he car was polished.

    I know that's not the case though.

    We do remove emblems when we can. If the owner of the car is here I ask them to remove them so if a "whoops" happens it's the owner's fault as classic cars tend to have fragile emblems at this point in time.

    In the cars above, we just used detailing brushes to carefully remove any previously dried wax and then do our best to buff close to the emblems with smaller pads.

    Sometimes you have to do things the old fashioned way and that's polish the paint by hand.

    100% Hand Polished - Single Stage Paint - 1970 Mustang Mach 1


    When you do this you'll tend to mar the paint if you have to rub hard so then come back and re-polish the area by machine as best as you can to remove the marring and your LSP will usually take care of the rest.

    Good question...


    Mike Phillips
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    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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    Click on a book to get your own copy.



  10. #10
    Senior Member Klasse Act's Avatar
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    Re: Making the Metallic Flake Pop!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike.Phillips@Autogeek View Post
    Making the Metallic Flake Pop!

    Here's another example of making the flake in a metalflake finish pop by maximizing clarity and smoothness...


    Before
    In these before shots, you can barely see that this is in fact a multi-color metalflake finish.












    After
    We put this paint through a claying, machine compounding and polishing process using the Optimum Hyper-Compound and Hyper-Polish like we used on the 1968 Firebird but instead of using Optimum Car Wax for the LSP we used Opti-Coat II

    Now the flake POPS!


















    Again, all we did was maximize the clarity and gloss of the clear coat and we were able to make the metallic flake pop.


    You can find the entire write-up, process and pictures for this 1977 Can Am Corvette here,

    1977 Can Am Corvette - Modeled by Amy and Janna - Pictures and Video!








    Nice job on the Corvette Mike, looks like someone had some extra paint left over from painting their dune buggy and decided to paint the Vette with it. You did such a good job on the car that the faded L-82 emblem now needs to be replaced due to your handy work. Its amazing what people did to their Corvette's back then, I guess if you can't make em' fast you can "try" and make them look good.
    2013 Abarth/Polish-LSP count...(23-39-22)
    Some say..."He likes Swedish fish because they're made with caranuba wax"

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