Over the last six months we’ve taken time out from video production to complete long overdue testing of new products and finalise our new brand line up for the remainder of 2012 (fear not video fans, we have a long list of new videos planned for the winter months ahead). While the list of products we’ve tested this year is long and varied, it’s fair to say that the biggest brand we’ve been sitting on the fence about is SCHOLL Concepts. We’ve actually been playing with their range of polishes and accessories for nearly twelve months now, and it’s not been easy for us to decide what to do with them. Why? Simply because we’re rather stuck in our ways! We’ve been detailing professionally for nearly seven years now, and in all of that time the polish brand we’ve used far more than any other is Menzerna. And when you get to the point where you understand a range of polishes inside out, including all of their strengths, weaknesses and quirks, it’s not easy, or necessarily desirable, to switch to another brand. However, we have persevered in this instance, due in part to the outstanding reputation that the SCHOLL Concepts brand has acquired in recent years. What follows is a summary of what we have learnt about SCHOLL Concepts, and what we have discovered about their polishes and pads during our extended period of testing.
One of the main reasons why the SCHOLL Concepts brand stands out in the world of automotive polishing is because the people behind it think differently. Good looks and novelty marketing features are not on the agenda when their products are designed. Rather, optimum functionality and intelligent details that add value to the end-user are the primary objectives. And this extends from their polishes, which behave differently to many others on the market, right through to their pads and accessories. This is not surprising because the core SCHOLL Concepts belief is that the best results are obtained when polishes and pads, like the components in a precision watch, are meticulously designed to work together to enhance each other’s performance. Only then do you get the best finish in the shortest possible time. And that last point is really very important, because it’s not only at the core of what the SCHOLL Concepts brand stands for, but it also manifests itself in the way that their products work. If, like us, you’ve become accustomed to using oil-rich polishes that you can continue to work and work and work to your heart’s content, then the behaviour of SCHOLL Concepts polishes will initially take you by surprise, because they are designed to deliver their results fast, and they do not like to be overworked.
At the heart of SCHOLL Concepts polishes are intelligent Powder Technology (iPT) abrasives that break down quickly to form a progressively finer polishing residue. As a result, the level of cut on offer diminishes quickly from that of a cutting compound to that of a finishing polish, meaning that it’s often possible to correct and refine the finish in a single step. Looking at this technology in slightly more technical terms, consider that each 250 ml bottle of polish contains millions of individual grains of aluminium-oxide powder. Then imagine that each grain of powder in turn comprises thousands of tiny polishing granules, grouped together like a bunch of grapes. During the polishing process, friction and pressure progressively grinds down and breaks apart the powder grains, causing the level of cut on offer to diminish as the average grain size decreases. Thus, even the very high levels of cut offered by the strong cutting compounds in the SCHOLL Concepts range quickly give way to levels of cut and gloss enhancement typically associated with finishing polishes. It is the mastery of this technology that sets SCHOLL Concepts apart in the world of automotive abrasives; while rival polish manufacturers aim to deliver end results in two or more steps, SCHOLL Concepts set out to do the same on just one.
Of course, abrasives only account for one half of the polishing equation, with pad choice being equally important too, particularly when a one step process is desired. As we mentioned earlier, SCHOLL Concepts design their pads to be part of a holistic polishing system, and closely match the properties of the wool and foams they use to the characteristics of their abrasives. Furthermore, they also incorporate design features that improve the level of safety and performance on offer. For example, their hybrid wool pads incorporate a thin layer of foam sandwiched between the natural wool fibres and the hook and loop backing disc, which affords greater flexibility and pressure control compared to traditional wool pads. Another interesting point of note concerns the grades of foam chosen for the 85 mm and 145 mm foam pads. Contrary to what many manufacturers do, SCHOLL Concepts use a relatively soft open cell foam to make their purple cutting cut pad, and denser closed cell foams to make their blue polishing pads and orange finishing pads. The logic behind this is that the open cell structure of the cutting pad allows air to circulate and thus carry away more heat generated by higher machine speeds, whereas the closed cell foams exert more grinding pressure, which is beneficial for refining duties where complete polish break-down is required to achieve maximum finish quality.
Based on our experience to date, we see the SCHOLL Concepts range of polishes and pads fitting together best as follows. SCHOLL Concepts S3 Gold is ideal for correcting severe defects in hard paint types, and works best with either SCHOLL Concepts SOFTouch TopWool Pads or SCHOLL Concepts Purple Cutting Pads. SCHOLL Concepts S17+ is the go-to cutting compound for correcting everyday defects in all paint types (much like 203S is in the Menzerna range), and works best with either SCHOLL Concepts Purple Cutting Pads or SCHOLL Concepts Blue Polishing Pads. SCHOLL Concepts S20 Blue is a relatively new universal light cutting compound that excels on soft, sticky paint types, and works best with SCHOLL Concepts Blue Polishing Pads. SCHOLL Concepts A15+ is, by some margin, the best all-in-one cutting polish and paint protectant we’ve ever used, and works best with SCHOLL Concepts Purple Cutting Pads. SCHOLL Concepts S30+ is a super-fine finishing polish that excels at producing razor-sharp looking finishes (ideal for synthetic protection) and works best with SCHOLL Concepts Orange Finishing Pads. Finally, SCHOLL Concepts S40 is an ultra-fine finishing polish that produces a ridiculous level of gloss (ideal for wax protection) and works best with SCHOLL Concepts Orange Finishing Pads.
In summary then, after an initial period of doubt (caused by our own failure to properly adapt our working style!) we’ve finally seen the light and embraced the SCHOLL Concepts range of polishes and pads. If you are relatively inexperienced and have no particular affinity for any other brand of polish, then you will have no difficulty whatsoever getting to grips with the SCHOLL Concepts system straight away. If, on the other hand, you already have a lot of experience with other polish brands and are somewhat stuck in your ways, then you will almost certainly need to adapt your current working style, mainly in terms of the length of time that you spend working the polishes. However, it’s not a difficult learning curve to master, and in a relatively short period of time you should be able to begin to reap the benefits on offer, namely higher quality finishes achieved in significantly less time. As a final point of note, we are currently testing other polishing pads and accessories in the SCHOLL Concepts range, with a view to making further additions to our store in the spring of 2013. Some of these products include technologies that we usually frown upon, including both slotted and waffle style pads, so it will be interesting to see if the level of performance on offer is enough to overcome our preconceptions. Given the SCHOLL Concepts way of thinking, we suspect it just might!