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Hologram-like defect in automotive paint (AKA holographic buffing tails)


I am seeking information on a phenomenon known within the automotive industry as the "hologram effect". In my capacity as Technical Manager (for automotive refinish products), I have been asked by a large car manufacturer to report on a complaint regarding "recurring scratches" on a black pearl clear over base finish. The finish is O.E.M. This complaint will be dealt with by a fair-trading tribunal.

A brief on my information to date is -- The hologram effect occurs, apparently, when numerous scratches are reflected off dark automotive colours, and appear to follow the sight line of the observer from what ever angle viewed.

I require information on the cause of hologram effect,with scientific argumentation. Also, secondary, any possible rectification processes.

Thanks in advance,

Jamie Panter
coatings OEM - Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


I have never heard of this term before, but it sounds to me like the clearcoat finish may have a durability issue.

Is the area(s) in question localized or is this condition viewable on the entire surface?

If it is local, I would suggest that the OEM supplier may have polished that particular area prior to shipment. An over aggressive operator / improper sand-paper / incorrect polisher all have the potential to leave very small scratches in the surface of the clearcoat.

Shane Sylvestre
- Windsor, Ontario, Canada


the problem you are seeing is :- I believe the reoccurring scratches are a result of poor buffing practice of hiding swirls or the hologram effect you are talking about. the marks have been hidden or filled and not removed; a pad glaze of some description has been used. Once the car has washed (with a non neutral wash or wash diluted incorrectly) the polish is removed therefore the marks reappear. this is in fact a very common problem due to the time-consuming task of removing swirls opposed to a quick fix of hiding or filling swirls because time is money and most car yards pay little for detailing, so quick fixes are used instead.

- gold coast, Australia



I am very interested to obtain an holographic effect on a metal surface. Is this possible by polishing?

Gijs van Suylekom
holographic technology - Middelburg, the Netherlands

June 20, 2008

Just read your message with much interest.
I operate a hand car wash in Melbourne and have experienced this problem a number of times over the years.
At times we have been accused (wrongly) of causing these scratches - placing us in a difficult situation.
I have been asking a number of different panel beaters and detailers as to the cause of these scratches - and no one has an explanation which I believe.
I know it is not my car wash.
Although, this week I was talking to a rep from "Rupes" who seemed to have a better understanding - he put me onto his boss - who I am in the process of following up.
I would like to get to the stage where I have some documented information so we can show any future problem customers.

Rick Marks
- Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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