What is Adaptive Abrasive Technology

AAT stands for Adaptive Abrasive Technology.  Of course, the natural follow-up question is: What is Adaptive Abrasive Technology? Here’s the short answer…

Powders - 3D’s Adaptive Abrasive Technology products use our own proprietary sub-micron abrasives blended with our own proprietary liquids that hold the abrasives in suspension to make the product usable. We here at 3D manufacture our own raw materials and from these raw materials we then manufacture our own abrasives or powders.

Liquids - The liquid components of our AAT products include 100% VOC compliant and biodegradable solvents, emulsifiers, wetting agents and other carrying agents, (secret stuff).

Formula - When the powders and the liquids are blended together according to a very complex process that includes heating some of the ingredients to insane temperatures, cooling the ingredients at precisely controlled rates the liquids become enabled to accelerate and enhance the cutting and leveling ability of the sub-micron abrasives against the surface without at the same time scratching or scouring the surface.

It is this complex chemistry, or as I like to call it, this synergistic chemical compatibility between the powders and the mutually beneficial liquids working in harmony that create a formula we call Adaptive Abrasive Technology.

It’s not just one component that that is the driver for the results, it’s the unique complex formulation of the powders and the exotic blend of liquids that deliver the type of cut and finish you get with AAT family of products including3D AAT 501 Cutting Compound, 3D AAT 502 Finishing Polish, and 3D AAT 505 Correction Glaze.

That’s the short answer to the question, Bur "what is adaptive abrasive technology?" Here’s the long answer for those that would like to know more…

What is Adaptive Abrasive Technology?

When it comes to anything related to polishing paint, I’m interested, I like to know what products are, and the how, of why they work. In my position as the Global Director of Training, I need to be able to answer this question when asked by people from around the world. So I went to the source, our head chemist and also the founder and owner of 3D Products, Tunch Goren and asked him to explain to me in the simplest terms – what is Adaptive Abrasive Technology and why is it important to me when I’m polishing paint?

Tunch said he is happy to explain but some of the information he could share would compromise his chemistry, or how he makes the formula and what is in the formula as well as how it works. So, the information I’m going to share below is a tick vague only because EVERYONE in this industry, this means any brand of product you can think of – is very secretive about their formulas. No company shares the proprietary information about their products or in simple words, the secret to what’s inside the bottle. It’s just how it is. And of course, this includes 3D.

Here’s what I can share and outside of this – at some point – each of us has to make up our own mind to simply trust in the brand. 

Our AAT products are complex products that are created using two very important components that when correctly blended together result in the final formulation. 

Many products on the market in the paint correction industry, primarily compounds and polishes, but anything that uses some type of abrasive technology to abrade the surface to in effect level it, are crude and even antiquated chemistry by our standards. These antiquated products are simple formulas that were not good in the old days before clearcoat paints and are not good in this present day on any type of paint.

Creating a premium quality, high performance formula for any product but especially products that must abrade the surface and remove defects while at the same time not leaving any of their own defects behind, is highly refined chemistry. It is not simple stuff any chemist or company can do. 

It took Tunch 25 years of personally working in his laboratory, creating formulas by testing, and testing and testing before he was able to come up with his own unique abrasive technology. (I’ll talk more about the ability to test frequently below)

What most people don’t understand is the complexity behind creating and then testing formulas. 

Most companies, in fact I would say the majority of companies, in order to create a formula must work with an outside supplier of the raw materials via requesting from them a sample of the key component for the product they want to create. 

In the case of compounds, polishes, glazes, and all-in-one type products – the key component is the abrasive technology referred to as powders in the abrasives industry.

There are only a handful of global companies that take raw materials, usually in the form of some type of mineral, then refine it to some degree to create some form of a usable powder. At this point, an outside company, and their chemists can take this sample of powder and begin to experiment with it. 

The goal being to somehow blend the powder sample with the liquids that will thus create the formula.

The liquids are just as important as the powder because the liquids will determine how the powder/abrasives do their job. The end result from the experiment is a blend of the powder and the liquids that are now a usable formula that can be tested on paint. It is the formula and how it is created that will determine the amount of cut, the rate of cut and final results.

All of this experimenting, (creating a formula from a test sample from an outside supplier of raw materials), and then testing the newly created formula – takes time. 

How much time? A LONG time. 

Creating a great product requires high science, or high intelligence. This is not to put anyone or any company down, it’s just a fact. This aspect of chemistry is also what separates all the great products on the market from all the me-too products on the market.

The Makers and the Marketing Companies - There are two categories of brands on the market and there are four general aspects that any given brand can have control over.

Manufacturers – These are the Makers. This is a company that actually manufactures real products. This company has control over and can own these four elements to create and test formulas.

  • Chemists
  • Laboratory
  • Raw materials
  • Manufacturing plant

Marketing companies – These are companies that do not actually manufacture real products themselves, as in they don’t own and operate a facility where raw materials are processed and packaged into finished products. They many have one or two of the above four elements or none of the above four elements. A marketing company must depend on a manufacturer for their products. 

In some cases, a marketing company can in fact have their own chemists and their own laboratory or access to a chemist and a laboratory – but when it comes to the mass creation of the formulas and then getting the formulas into cans, bottles, jugs, or barrels – this is beyond their capability and usually beyond their budget. 

It costs a LOT to build your own manufacturing plant, staff it, insure it, pay for all the overhead costs, etc. It is much less costly to simple farm out the process of manufacturing products to an established company that offers these services than to try to do it on your own.

Because a marketing company does not have all or some of these four things a manufacturer has, at some point in their business model they must work through a middleman to get a packageable product they can sell. 

There are a number of manufacturing companies that offer to make products for marketing companies, and this includes 3D Products. We offer private labeling for products under your brand name. The strange thing about this is, we then compete against ourselves as we compete against the companies, we private label for. This is called capitalism. The important and strategic difference is - we are a textbook example of vertically integrated manufacturing.

Vertically Integrated Manufacturing. 

This means, we control the beginning of the process and every step or component of the process all the way through to the end of the process – a physical product an end-user can purchase from us, be it B to B or B to C. 

We don’t purchase raw materials for our products, we manufacture the raw materials for our products. You can’t get any more vertically integrated than this. 

And it is this aspect of the 3D business model that gives us leverage over the competition. It’s just a fact. We are the prime source. When you buy directly from 3D Products – there are no middlemen, and this can often be reflected in quality, performance, and price. 

Any successful business model for any business means to buy low and sell high. Any company that buys products from us must then sell these products at a higher price than what we would sell a similar product for because we don’t have to go through a middleman. For our private label customers – we are their middleman. Thus, they have to charge more to you, their customer. This is just Business 101.

Now let me circle back to 3D’s ability to TEST frequently

Because we manufacture our own raw materials, we have or own laboratory and we have our in-house chemists, (and material scientists too), we can create a sample, create a formula, and then test this formula multiple times in ONE DAY. That’s fast turnaround. 

This ability enables us to take a concept on paper and turn it into a finished product in the shortest amount of time. AND – our own criteria for our own 3D brand are, only products that meet and exceed Tunch’s expectations ever make to production of finished products.

Any company that does not have this quick turn-around ability from concept to finished product spends a lot of time waiting. These companies MUST order samples from outside suppliers and then WAIT. 

  • Wait on communications between you and the company representatives.
  • Wait in line amongst all the other companies like you – asking for a sample.
  • Wait for the company to create the sample.
  • Wait for transportation to deliver the sample.

Then the sample becomes a component of an experiment where the sample, (powders), is somehow blended with liquids to create a testable formulation. Then the formulation must be tested. The testing is sometimes tested by an in-house technician and the results captured and passed onto the chemist. But in some instances, the experimental formula is sent out for testing – now you’re back to waiting for communications, transportation, actual testing, gathering data and finally sending the chemist any feedback.

If the results from testing meet expectations, then a company can take the final formula to a manufacturing company and place an order and then again – wait.

If the results do not meet the expectation – the above process starts over. You are back to waiting!

Now that you understand the behind-the-scenes process let me do my best to share with you what AAT or Adaptive Abrasive Technology is and why you’ll like it.

3D’s AAT Products

It’s not just one component that that is the driver for the results, it’s the unique complex formulation of the powders and the exotic blend of liquids that deliver the type of cut and finish you get with AAT family of products including, 3D AAT 501 Cutting Compound, 3D AAT 502 Finishing Polish, and 3D AAT 505 Correction Glaze.

3D AAT products are pad independent - Now that you have the most information I can share about the adaptive abrasive technology used in our 501, 502 and 505 products, there’s another real benefit to these complex formulas and that is they are pad independent.

Pad independent? - Yes, pad independent. Sometimes I hear or read people talk about how a product is pad dependent – this means the product in question is dependent upon or needs a specific type of pad in order to perform correctly. This makes sense. In order for most compounds to provide good correction you must use them with an aggressive cutting pad. In order for a polish to finish out nicely you must use a soft foam finishing pad, therefore these types of products are pad dependent.

Our compounds, polishes, and all-in-ones, (all-in-ones also called AIOs), are pad INDEPENDENT. Our formulas, (powders and liquids) are so good, it makes them extremely versatile and even forgiving. You can use our AAT products with virtually any type of pad to get the desired cutting and/or polishing action you desire. You can also mix and match products and pads to get the type of finish or end-results you’re looking for.

Topcoat hardness – the unknown factor - When it comes to doing paint correction be multiple-step show car work or one-step production detailing, the one variable none of us have any control over is topcoat hardness. In other words, how hard or soft the paint is on the car we’re working on.


The only way to determine if a paint job is hard or soft or somewhere in-between is by doing some testing using the timeless and wise technique of testing the least aggressive process to get the job done. You can read more about the how and why of doing a Test Spot plus watch our video here.

How and why to do a Test Spot

With 3D’s AAT products you can start your testing with our 502 Finishing Polish or our 505 Correction Glaze with simple foam polishing pads and correct technique. The results from this one simple Test Spot will accurately tell you which direction you need to go in order get the correction results you’re looking for or in some cases, one of these products with a foam polishing pad will deliver the results you were looking for.

The big picture idea is – you can mix-n-match cutting, polishing, and finishing pads with any of the 3D AAT products because they are NOT pad dependent. The adaptive abrasive technology enables you to test and dial-in a product and pad combo that gets the results you’re looking for while often reducing time, work, and steps.

The above the long answer to the question, what is adaptive abrasive technology? For those of you that waded through it – I commend you. 

And this is the back story behind our 3D AAT products. The chemists at 3D do all the complex work. All you have to do is follow the directions when using the products. More important than learning about what’s inside the bottle however is the actual performance of the products. 

Detailing made simple!