- Simply measure right out of the box
- No Calibration Required
- New! Flip Display for right-side-up viewing in any position. Video
- New! Built-in wrist strap
- Largest LCD on the market
- Works in all types of weather conditions
- Fast, accurate measurements
- Pocket-size for one hand operation
- Durable quality construction
- Approved by major Dealer Equipment Programs such as Toyota, GM, BMW, Nissan, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Volkswagen
- 2 Year Warranty
Gage Comes Complete with: built-in probe, wrist strap, plastic shims, hard shell storage case, AAA battery, instructions and two (2) year warranty.
Conforms to: ISO 2178/2360/2808, prEN ISO 19840, ASTM B244/B499/B659/D1186/D1400/D7091-05
E376/G12, BS3900-C5, SSPC-PA2 and others.
Certificate of Calibration traceable to NIST available.
Background on Automotive Detailing
What is Detailing?
Detailing as it relates to paint thickness measurement, is the systematic cleaning, rejuvenating and protecting of the exterior painted surfaces of a vehicle. The primary purpose for paint detailing is to retain the appearance of newer vehicles or to revitalize older neglected vehicles.
Cleaning is a preparatory step intended to remove dirt, dust, and other loose contaminants in order to allow full inspection of current paint conditions. Rejuvenation refers to the processes used to return a vehicle to its original showroom condition. The extent of rejuvenation is dependent on the customer’s expectations. Protection refers to the maintenance processes such as waxing that are used to keep the vehicle looking new for as long as possible after detailing.
Simple washing and waxing will not remove many types of surface paint damage, a rejuvenation step (polishing with an orbit or more effective high speed polisher) is added before the waxing step. When rejuvenation is required, detailers often polish the top clear coat layer of automotive paints to remove surface damage such as fine scratches, scuffs, swirl marks, oxidation, stains, paint overspray, tar, tree sap, acid rain or water spots. This polishing process is often referred to as finessing. Extensive paint problems may require the use of several sanding and buffing steps to bring the paint back closer to its original beauty.
Automotive manufacturers typically use one of two main types of paint systems in their vehicles. The most common used today is a clear coat system in which a thin layer of color is applied, followed by multiple layers of clear non-pigmented paint. Used less frequently today is a single-stage paint system that consists of the application of multiple layers of pigmented paint. Since most detailing chemicals are designed to work on both paint systems, the paint detailing process does not significantly change based upon the type of paint system.
To ensure consumer value and thus maintain profitability, there are two main considerations when justifying equipment and processes involved in the detailing process. Any added cost must result in improvements in either efficiency or effectiveness. While it could be argued that a detailer’s ability to take quick readings with a paint thickness gauge in order to determine the remaining paint thickness is an efficiency benefit, the primary benefit is the increase in effectiveness.
When the need to polish (sand and buff) has been identified it is important to evaluate the paint in surrounding areas. Most factory paint jobs range from 3.5 to 5.5 mils (87 to 137 microns). Thinner readings indicate that the clear coat is almost entirely removed or in the case of single-stage systems that the primer is about to show through. As represented in the photo above, thicker readings are often an indication that repainting has occurred. When repainting is detected, the operator has a difficult task in evaluating the suitability (thickness) of the top layer of paint for buffing. No matter how careful the operator, buffing or polishing on thin coatings risk paint damage to the vehicle. When detailing thin coatings or unknown paint layer thickness, an alternative system such as hand polishing may be the only safe option.
After determining the paint system used on the vehicle and thus the expected paint thickness, it is important to determine the actual paint thickness. Even an experienced detailer finds it difficult to determine paint thickness, especially clear coat, through visual inspection. As thinner, more scratch resistant clear coats such as nano technology become more prevalent, it will become more critical to use high resolution electronic thickness gauge to determine how much paint thickness is being removed while finessing.
Because of the potential for removing the majority of the UV blockers, most auto manufacturers recommend that a maximum of 0.3 mils (8 microns) clear coat be removed as prevention from UV damage to underlying paint layers. In a worst-case scenario with a single stage paint process, buffing down to the primer may result in a costly trip to the paint booth.
Also consider that paint damage may not visually appear immediately. When too much top coat is removed, premature failures such as fading or delamination may occur. Failures have the potential for lawsuits, unhappy customers and loss of reputation. Such risks can be alleviated by monitoring and minimizing the amount of top coat removed, which is best done through quick and easy measurements with an electronic paint gauge.
Significant damage below the top painted surface may include deep scratches, etching, staining, and heavy oxidation. Just as simple washing and waxing will not remove some top layer paint damage, rejuvenation through sanding and buffing may not be adequate for removing deeper paint damage. It is therefore important to recognize the limitations before too much paint has been removed.
Where is the Market?
Regardless of size, all paint correction detailers with the need to control quality and risk should consider the advantages of a paint thickness gauges. In particular, mobile and full-service (multiple bays and technicians) performing paint rejuvenation services such as high speed buffing and sanding are primary markets. Express (under 15 minute) detailers that are less equipped for full paint correction services have a lesser need.