3M Crystalline & Color Stable Window Films
When we all look back in our respective industries, we find that there were only a few, if any, radical advancements. In my particular industry, auto detailing and enhancements, I could only point to the paint clay as one of these advancements until now. Not too long ago I was informed by our representative that 3M was releasing a new breed of tint (for both the home and auto) which was based on nano-technology. My partner Eddie and I weren’t overly excited since we were already installing high-end carbon tint and have heard the “nano” word overly hyped and misused. The representative asked us to wait a minute and he would demonstrate the difference. He came back with a relatively small black box and told us to give him samples of the tint we were using as well as other tints we had for testing. After 30 seconds we both looked at each other and proclaimed “wow”. Since then, we’ve shown that demo to countless clients and have gotten a resounding “wow” every time. The name of the film that gets the wow is “Crystalline”. Now before we dive into what makes Crystalline different, let’s discuss the history of window tint.
3M became the “inventor of the window film” in 1966 by receiving the very first patent on window film. Back then, the film was dyed; these films work on the principle of absorption; the darker the film, the better it worked. At best they approached 30% heat reduction, but had the drawback of reduced visibility at night. These simplistic dyed films are still used today because of their low cost, but are not very durable over time or in sunny climates. They turn a lovely shade of purple with extensive exposure to the sun.
A second generation of window film emerged in the early nineties. This film was constructed of metal integrated with dye. This “hybrid” film contained dye to absorb heat and metallic particles to reflect the sun’s rays, and therefore heat. It approached 50% heat reduction. The major drawback with metallized films is interference with electronic devices. If you think of all the electronic components in your car, that’s more than just a nuisance. Today, the “high end” window films are mostly the hybrid matallized.
The latest generation of window film has been made possible through the recent developments of nano-technologies – they are not just window tint, but rather “Energy Management Films”. This new breed of film is manufactured with ceramic/crystalline oxides which are used to specifically block the infrared (i.e. heat) part of the solar spectrum. This proprietary designed film gives the consumers the performance, safety and health benefits of metallized window films without its drawbacks. 3M developed this automotive window film in their world-leading technology laboratories and called it Crystalline. Thousands of hours of research and development were necessary to create this unique film. It is produced using multilayer nano-technology, which allows them to produce a patented window film with hundreds of micro layers of polymer that is less than the thickness of a Post-it note and use no metal in their construction. This same advanced technology is used to improve the brightness of flat panel LCD televisions.
The Crystalline film is certified by the Skin Cancer Foundation since it blocks 99.9% of the UV radiation and has a total SPF that exceeds 1700. To fully understand what makes the latest generation of nano-films so special, let’s examine the source of what we’re trying to filter out – the sun’s rays. Sunlight basically consists of three parts; visible light rays (VLR), infra-red (heat) rays (IR) and ultraviolet rays (UV). All other forms of radiation are either filtered by our atmosphere (what’s left of it) or man made. Of all the rays we are exposed to from our sun, the UV rays (which are about 3% of the sunlight) are the ones which are harmful and responsible for unwanted health conditions. The IR (which is about 56% of the sunlight) is what produces heat. The VLR (which is about 41% of sunlight) is the part of the sun we see. The nano-films are designed precisely at the part of sunlight which we wish to reduce, the IR heat rays. The challenge was to design a window film which blocked IR rays (reduced heat), much like the previous generations, while remaining nearly colorless for excellent night visibility as well as law abidance.
To empirically test the effectiveness of the Crystalline film, we used two Porsches. The first was a black 997 S tinted at the dealership with 20% carbon film and the second a black 997 GT2 which we tinted with Crystalline 40% on the side and rear windows, and 70% Crystalline on the windshield. The cars were parked parallel next to each other on a sunny July day. After a few hours, we took temperature readings inside the cars with a digital pyrometer. The Crystalline car was over 25° F cooler even though it was tinted with a lighter film.
Although we had a choice of manufacturers of nano-films to do business with, in the end we chose 3M for a number of reasons:
1. 3M, an American company, has been providing innovative marketplace solutions for more than 107 years (since 1902). It is a $25+ billion/year company and invests more in R&D per year than many of its competitors do in gross sales.
2. Window film is only as good as the adhesive system behind it. 3M is the only window film manufacturer that produces its own adhesive system developed specifically for window tint. This patented pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) is engineered to form an aggressive mechanical bond to the glass that can be easily removed at the end of its useful life, unlike chemical bond (CDF) systems that go into the glass pores and are difficult/costly to remove.
3. 3M places the UV inhibitors in the adhesive coating. No other film manufacturer has this ability. As a result, the 3M adhesive coating is protected against the damaging effects of the sun’s UV radiation. With most competitors’ films, the UV inhibitors are sandwiched between the adhesive coating and first layer of polyester, thereby exposing their adhesive system to premature aging.
4. 3M abrasion resistant technology allows them to apply a much more durable hard coat than the competitors.
5. 3M uses state-of-the-art testing facilities to assure film quality. Prolonged testing assures long-term durability, color stability, adhesive performance, resistance to metallic corrosion and maintenance of performance characteristics. The tests performed are published by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
Now unfortunately, like in any competitive industry, there are some salespeople who sell with half truths rather than with facts and make their whole profession look shady (no pun intended). The truth is that all window tint films (unless there’s a manufacturing defect) block at least 96% of UV radiation; that was the original purpose of the development of window film. So if you go to your local tint shop and ask them for a film which gives you UV protection, they may let you choose the darkness and install the cheapest dyed film and take your money. The problem is you get very little heat reduction.
If the car owner wants only the dark aesthetics of the window film and is not concerned about its comfort/health benefits, visibility or legality, then they are the perfect candidate for the darker versions of the bottom of the line dyed film - there is nothing wrong with that. But for those of us who want the abovementioned benefits without having your car look like a limo, then Crystalline is the proper choice.
Finally, let’s talk about a subject which in the past has been somewhat of a joke in the tinting industry – the warranty. When I was growing up, and even today, I saw tinters working out of the back of some dirty garage or used car lot and offering lifetime warranty on a $150 tint job. The question is whose lifetime? These tinting warranties reminded me of the Ginsu knife lifetime warranty; remember that one? With Crystalline, the car owner receives a lifetime warranty backed by one of the most respected companies in the world. The warranty not only covers the material, but also the labor for as long as they own their car.
I hope that you now have a better understanding of window films and can make an informed decision the next time you have your car tinted.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at (516) 747-4114.
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