How much difference does the diameter of a buffing pad make in regards to polishing performance? It may be a lot more than you realize. First, lets consider surface area.
If we compare a 3-inch diameter pad to a 4-inch diameter pad, there’s only a one inch difference between the two. What you may not realize however is that although the 4-inch pad seems to be only marginally larger, the increase in surface area of the pad face is about 77.7%!
This means that you can potentially polish more surface area in the same amount of time, or polish the same amount of area in less time when using a 4 inch pad. It also means that you can use a 4-inch pad longer before it saturates with abraded paint residue and other performance-robbing goop.
A pad featuring a large diameter also distributes applied pressure and weight across a broader area than a small diameter pad (all other parameters being equal). This assumes that the entire face of the pad is in contact with the surface being polished.
Reasoning things out, you might conclude that the net effect of the size discrepancy is a concentration of polishing power when using a smaller diameter pad, and you’d be right. However, don’t assume that there will be more or less cutting or finishing ability all the time, because there is another component to consider, which I’ll cover in my next blog post tomorrow.