Cleaning the Surface

Our first Tech Article. Cleaning the surface.

Acetone seems to be the most recommended product for cleaning. I have seen no mention of the actual towels used to clean. I have seen a lot of issues that may be tied to improper cleaning of the surface.

Let look at the cleaning process.

First there are two types of contamination's. Solvent based contaminates, and water based contaminates.

Water based. Lets think of a sugar ring from a pop or soda can. Solvent will not touch that.

Solvent based. Grease, oils, chemicals used to protect the item during manufacture and storage. Water may not touch those. So cleaning is really a two step process.

So we want to clean before sanding. Yes sanding, but more on that later. If we have a contaminated surface and we sand, we will sand the contamination into the surface. So we use a soap and water clean. But some soaps can leave contamination. Which ones will work the best? I don't know. We use a water based cleaner that I doubt you want to purchase. But for reference Axalta product V-3921 is my favorite.

So now we are ready for the solvent clean. So what do we want to use? How do we use a solvent cleaner? We take the solvent, apply to the surface. The solvent then floats the contaminate. Then we must wipe off before it dries. If it dries before we wipe it, we didn't clean the contaminate off the surface. Acetone is a good solvent. But it is fast drying. In the North in the winter, acetone might be fine. Acetone in FL or TX in July? For painting we use what is termed as a "wax and grease remover". This is a blend of solvents which will clean, float the contamination and give us time to wipe clean without leaving a residue which can hurt adhesion. RM 900 is the industry standard solvent cleaner.

Now let's talk the towel that we use. Believe it or not, a towel is a towel is not true. Most towels are held together with adhesive. What can happen when we put solvent on that adhesive? We contaminate our surface with this adhesive. So we want to use a towel that doesn't use adhesive and is designed for solvent use. There are many. This is one of them and actually a more expensive one, but one that I am familiar with.

So we water clean, we solvent clean, we sand, we water clean and we solvent clean.

We are now ready to start with our top coat process.

This may sound complicated, but it is not. If followed, you will not have your coatings repelled by contaminations causing fish eyes.

I hope that this is a bit more clear than mud.

Now for the safety part of this writing. We want to do this in a well ventilated area. We want to use gloves, eye protection and a respirator. Now mind you, this should be done with Acetone also.


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