Paint Protection Films
Paint Protection Films have come a long way since being developed as "helicopter tape" during the Vietnam War. Back then in the 1960s, a solution was needed to stop constant damage to the rotor blades of thousands of US helicopters. When the leading edges of helicopter blades get damaged the amount of lift they can generate is greatly reduced. The invention of a polyurethane tape that was stuck onto the leading edges of the blades assisted in the prevention of pitting and chipping of these finely balanced blades. This heavy duty tape is still used on today's helicopters, fighter jets and commercial aircraft to keep their leading edges intact and therefore retain maximum lift.
Today's modern films, designed for the automotive industry, are much thinner than "helicopter tape", but are clear, strong and durable and provide an inexpensive way of protecting modern painted surfaces.
Polyurethane Paint Protection Film
So what is the film made of? The Paint Protection Films that we supply are made from polyurethane. This remarkable product can be manufactured to any degree of hardness, and is used for roller blade wheels, skateboard wheels, suspension bushes, insulation foam, seat cushions, soles and uppers of shoes, surfboards, water-repellant clothing and many more applications. We do not supply vinyl films as they do not provide the same benefits and features of polyurethane films.
Paint Protection Film is available in two thicknesses. The main thickness (including adhesive) is approximately 200 micrometers, or .20 of a millimetre. That's just 1/5 of a millimetre. Americans talk in thousandths of an inch, so when they say 6 or 8 mil, they mean 6 or 8 thousandths of an inch (approx 150 or 200 micrometres), which doesn't mean much to people used to metric measurements here in Australia. This thickness of film allows it to be conformed around many shapes, including automobile bumpers, bonnets, mirror backs, etc. The other thickness is nearer to 300 micrometers (the Americans call it 12 mil or 14mil) and whilst it provides better protection it is not easily conformed around compound shapes. Not all manufacturers supply the thicker film, and we currently stock it only when asked for it.
The Paint Protection Film that is manufactured for applications on modern automotive painted surfaces has the following attributes:
- Extremely Transparent, allowing the attributes of the painted surface, such as pearlescent and metal flake to be visible
- High Gloss Surface to match the automobile's painted surface (when the surface is glossy)
- UV stabilised (relatively unaffected by UV radiation, therefore resists cracking, delamination, lifting, shrinking)
- Removeable even after 7 years (these films use an acrylic adhesive which never sets or goes hard and can safely be removed from modern Class A painted surfaces, i.e. factory-finish). If your paint is sub-standard, damaged, or a respray we do not recommend that you use the film.
- Can be stretched to go over compound curves (within reason, suitable for bonnets, bumpers, etc.)
- Allows UV radiation to pass through thereby allowing protected and unprotected painted surfaces to fade at the same rate.
Additionally, most of the newer films also offer
- Superior stain resistance
- Self-healing properties which can eliminate light scratches
We strongly recommend that you conduct your own research to determine if the Paint Protection Films that we sell actually suit your needs.
How to choose which film
So why do we carry different brands of film? It's because we also supply film to a number of professional installers and they have their own preferences, budgets and requirements. Any of the brands that we supply are suitable for automotive paint protection purposes.
Telling you which film is better than another is like suggesting which paint is better - Dulux, Taubmans or British Paints. It all depends on where it's going, who is installing, how long you expect it to last and so on. There are approximately a dozen brands of PPF out there and we can't carry them all, so we've chosen ones that we feel are best in their category. Things change of course, so we may swap different brands in or out, depending on pricing, availability, quality issues, advances in technology, etc.
We will not provide advice over the phone or in emails as to which product you need or should use. You are going to have to do the research and make that decision yourself. From our experience, such a request usually ties us up for 15-30 minutes to ask all the necessary questions, such as - what is your level of expertise? - what it's going on? - how much you want to spend? - how much film you might need?, and then to answer all of your questions like - will I be able to see it? - is it easy to put on? - how long does it last? - have you got any small cutoffs that I can have? - does it go yellow? - how do I remove it? - who can I get to install it here in Mt Isa? Really, we're not Bunnings! If you have 5 minutes and you can speak English and you have an IQ above 10, then we urge you to read whatever you can about this stuff.
Paint Protection Film (PPF) is a thin polyurethane film designed to protect painted surfaces (mainly automotive) against minor damage from the sorts of things that happen to your paint when the vehicle is being used. This includes small stones, bugs, sand, dust, mud, small scrapes from bushes, dragging bags and goods in and out of the car, and so on.
So, it is designed to go on non-porous, perfectly smooth hard surfaces, such as you find on new cars, new motorbikes, bicycles, etc. We do not recommend trying to make it stick to textured plastics (black textured surfaces) as found on lots of cars and motorbikes. Still, it is suitable for tons of other applications, but its suitability for a particular surface and environment is to be determined by you. You should read the manufacturer's websites and determine if their film suits your needs. It's also a good idea to look at some youtube comparisons to see which films come out on top. But don't forget that at the end of the day, these films are very, very similar.
PPF is designed to go on wet, using a soapy solution. This allows you to slide the film around and to easily squeegee water and bubbles from under the film. If you are not happy with the line-up, just lift the film, realign it and try again. You do not need to rush the job, and it's difficult to damage the film. So take your time to get the result that you want. There are tons of videos on youtube, probably one that will help you with your project.
There are 3 phases to the installation of PPF. Each phase is important.
- Preparation of the surface
- Installation of each piece of film
- Drying of edges and inspection
Do not be put off by all of the detail that we have here. Installation is a fairly simple process and the benefits of protecting your paint far outweight the small amount of trouble that is involved.