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Paint Protection Film – What You Should Know

In the auto world, you may have heard about automotive protective films, as they go by different names including clear mask, car scratch protective film, clear wrap, invisible shield, rock chip protection, etc. or it could just be referred to as paint protection film or the common name “clear bra”.

What and Why?

paint protection film installation
paint protection film installation

One of the major reasons why people use paint protection films is based on the fact that a lot of people want their cars to still maintain their looks after a long time, perhaps the reason why a lot of cars still look new even after years of usage. The idea behind the paint protection is to ensure that your car looks better for a long time.

Paint protection film benefits seems to be the best defense you can use on your car to make the paint job not get affected by elements that may otherwise affect the paint and look of the car; hence, your car is protected from scratches and chips that can be caused by road debris and rocks.

It is made from urethane and other compounds, and thus has an increased resistance against acidic and corrosion contaminants; hence, acid rain, bed droppings, mineral deposits, etc. will not be able to affect it and the paint job. Furthermore, the film does not go through an oxidization process when exposed to the sun, thus helping to guard your car paint against the sun’s UV rays, and invariably preventing the car paint from fading. The film is created with polymers that are elastomeric; hence, when light scratches are made on the film, it has the ability to return to its original form before the scratch. This goes to say that you can apply the paint protection film to your car, and thus maintain the quality and look of your car’s paint for a very long time.

It is important to note that while the paint protection film has its benefits, it does not necessarily mean that it can do everything to ensure that your car stays shiny. When you apply the paint protection film, you will still continue caring for the bodywork like you would normally do even if the film was not there. The film only adds some protection; however, it should be noted that it is not a lifetime application.

The History

film history

A little history into clear bra will help you know about how it came to being, and perhaps help you appreciate it better.

The film is created from a material called urethane, and it is usually transparent in nature.

Urethane technology dates back to some time when the Vietnam war was going on; US helicopters kept crashing because their rotor blades’ leading edge had gotten some minor damages at some point during their operations. 3M was contacted, and they came up with a technology that was not just resilient, but also lightweight, hence, urethane was the proffered and preferred solution, and thus began the use of urethane technology for the manufacture of helicopter rotor blades and other parts of other aircraft. The success of 3M with the urethane technology is one of the reasons why 3M is still in business with the military and the general aerospace industry.

After seeing the success of the urethane technology with the military, NASCAR discovered that it could be applied to race cars, and after a few trials, its success was recorded. Advertisers were paying a lot of money to plaster their adverts on the body of fast cars, and seeing how fast such cars were moving against different elements; there was the tendency for the decals to get chipped by dirt and debris; hence, the fronts of the cars were protected with urethane technology. In 1990, and after improvements on the technology, it became available for use for everyone, and since then it has been getting better, so much so, that they have OEM approvals from a lot of the automotive manufacturers in the industry.

What is it made from?

It is only right that you have an idea what the material you are using to protect your vehicle is actually made from, perhaps to ascertain whether it is really good for your car. One of the major ingredient used in the manufacture of the clear bra/paint protection film is urethane, which is a polymer that is versatile, powerful, and created from carbonate links. When it is made into a compound, it comes with some unique attributes including: transparent and lightweight, enhanced resistance to abrasion, impact and corrosion, flexibility, and ability to return to original shape after being stretched. There are several applications of Urethane technology other than for cars and aircrafts, as they are used to line the tiles found in your bathroom, boat coatings, football pads, underwater cables, surfboard fins, etc. There are just so many applications of the material, and that is just to buttress the point that it is an effective material to bring some protection to different surfaces.

Basically, there are four layers that make up the material, with different thicknesses:

  • Clearcoat: 0.5 mils (0.013 mm)
  • Polyurethane: 6.0 mils (0.0152 mm)
  • Acrylic Adhesive: 1.6 mils (0.040 mm)
  • Polyester Release Liner: 3.0 mils (0.076 mm
paint protection film composition

What are the possible liabilities?

If they get applied properly, they are invisible to your naked eyes, and it does not affect the clarity and depth of your vehicle’s paint. However, if you have done some research about paint protection film on the internet, there is the possibility of coming across people complaining about some certain types of defects that have come up after a while of using clear bra. Some of the defects reported include blistering, yellowing, and peeling. In order for you to make your decisions correctly, it is imperative that you know the actual causes of the defects and how best to avoid them.

  • Blistering

This occurs when tiny air bubbles are discovered beneath the film, and this is usually due to the way the film is applied. This is why it is recommended that professionals are contacted to apply the film, as they will do a good job and reduce the risks of getting contaminated with air bubbles.

  • Yellowing

This used to be one of the earliest reports against the paint protection film, and this was when it was first introduced to consumer cars. The matter was looked into, and it was discovered that the adhesive used was the cause, because it was getting oxidized by UV rays. After more research, acrylic adhesives were discovered to be a better alternative, and thus improve the resistance of the material to UV rays, while also preventing oxidization and discoloration.

  • Peeling

This is usually the case when a substandard film is used, or perhaps when it gets applied unprofessionally, and it could also be as a result of not being properly cared for. It is important that when using pressure washers, you should be at least 12 inches away from the surface of the vehicle, especially when washing exposed edges, as it could cause the peeling to begin from the edges.

These complaints can be afforded if you use quality paint protection film that is applied by professionals and taken care of properly.