Different Types of Window Film

There are several different types of window film, though all have one basic ingredient in common: polyester film. The depth of the polyester film varies from 2 to 7 millimeters, while some types of film consist of a number of thin layers stacked on top of one another. On the inner surface, the film is fitted with a water-activated or pressure sensitive coating, and a hard, scratch-resistant finish is applied on the exposed outer surface.

Special chemical UV blockers (cyclic imino esters) are added to the film to prevent ultraviolent radiation and this basic composition makes up a typical window film for general shatter resistance and UV protection.

Once the film is created, three different technologies are used to bring out unique features and characteristics in the final product:

Single-Ply Dyed Window Film with Standard Scratch Resistant HardcoatDYED FILM
Dyed film adds a layer of heat-absorbing dye to the mix. You might think that because the film absorbs heat, it will make the inside of the car heat up as well. But in reality, the heat that escapes the film transfers to the glass, and dissipates quickly outward along with the outside airflow. On still days, a small amount of heat does bleed through, although the average daily speed of natural air movement is around 15mph, which means there’s always enough wind to keep the heat moving.

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The next two kinds of film include a reflective coating of metallic particles achieved either by vacuum coating/metallizing (deposition technology) or advanced metallizing (sputtering technology). With both of these film types, another layer of film is added to give protection to the reflective coating, and the metallic particles resist heat by reflecting it away before it reaches the glass.ble-glazed windows restrict air movement between panes, so if you have thermal glass windows you’ll have to give this film a miss and consider one of the other film types.

Deposition technology: during the deposition process, a tank holding metal ingots (mostly nickel-chrome or aluminum, and sometimes copper) is fed with film and pressurized to create a vacuum. Argon gas is then pumped into the tank, heating the ingots and causing the metallic particles to rise and cover the film’s surface. The final concentration of metal in the deposition process is determined by how long it takes for the film to move through the tank’s chamber.

The deposited film method produces good results with relatively low cost involved, although it is only viable for select applications. Because the metal particles are much larger in comparison to that of the underlying film, the coating needs to be spread thickly across the surface. This results in a darker, more reflective tint.

Caveat: there aren’t many metals suitable for deposition, meaning choice between products is quite limited.

Two-Ply Metallized Window Film with Metallized and UV Treated Film LayersSPUTTERED FILM
Compared to the limited choice in materials of deposited film, over 25 distinct metals are suitable for use in sputtering, and the resulting film is also much lighter. The metal layer is extremely fine (down to one-hundredths the thickness of human hair), and depending on what metals are used, it’s highly effective at blocking certain radiation bands from direct sunlight. Sputtered film produces minimal mirror effect, color shifting, and heat absorption while retaining high reflectivity of radiation. The cost to manufacture films using sputtering is unsurprisingly high, which means these films can be quite a bit pricier than most. Basic components found in sputtered film are: layers of polyester with adhesive, metallized, and scratch-resistant coatings.Sputtering technology is a highly complex process, and like deposition technology, the magic takes place in a special vacuum chamber. There’s a big difference here, though, as the metallizing is achieved through atomic manipulation. The semi-technical explanation: electromagnetic fields propel ions towards the metal in a chemically inert gas such as Argon. Described as “atomic billiards,” this blast of ions dislodges groups of atoms in short bursts and spreads them evenly across the film’s surface.

Although dyed and metallic films are used in different situations, there are a few similarities between them. For instance, metallic films aren’t completely heat-proof as the ‘heavy’ metal particles tend to attract natural heat, while the heat-absorbing dyed films can’t help being slightly reflective.

Two-Ply Hybrid Window Film with Metallized and Dyed Film LayersHYBRID FILM
The last type of window film is the hybrid, which contains metals and dyes. By blending these two ingredients together, the best qualities of both can be achieved with less of the negatives. The combination of gray dye and titanium is a great example of this. When gray dye is used by itself, the film would  A good example is gray dye and titanium coating. If each were used alone, the dye would cause the film to darken dramatically, whereas the titanium would give the film a very mirrored look. But when both are combined using a small amount of each, you are left with a much brighter and less reflective film.

With hybrid films, the commonly-held belief that “the darker the film, the more heat-resistant it is” no longer holds water. In fact, most people choose darker films simply because they provide the best privacy.
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How Does Window Film Work?

At the most basic level, window tinting entails the application of tinting film onto a window glass surface. A layer of clear polyester film makes up the bulk of tint film, with an extra thin layer made up of tinting agents like metals and dyes added to achieve the desired performance characteristics.

One of the biggest myths about tinting is that it impedes vision at night, and so driving at night is impossible when a car is tinted. In reality, however, you will find films of many varieties specially designed with night-time to reduce glare and similar problems when driving at night. Tinting film doesn’t give the same effect as other visual shields like sunglasses, which most certainly do impair vision at night. For the much darker types of film, there are state window tint laws in place that can act as guidelines as to what level of darkness is within reasonable limits.

People also often get confused about where the window tint will be placed. In almost all cases, window tint is applied on the inside of the window glass. This is done to protect the tint from external sources of wear-and-tear, including flying debris and other hard objects.

Window tint changes the characteristics and amount of light that is transmitted through the window glass into the car. Auto glass that hasn’t been tinted transmits 90% of visible light (VLT% rating of 90), absorbs 5% of visible light (VLA% rating of 5%) and reflects 5% of visible light (VLR% rating of 5%).

The quantities above vary dramatically once tinting film is applied, and mostly depend on the type of tint. Different tints are available for different characteristics; for example, some tints are used to reflect light, while others will be fitted to absorb light.

The Visible Light Transmittance (VLT%) rating is the most widely used measurement rating for window tint, and this rating is typically included in the name of the specific tint – for example, Johnson Executive PBC30 or Madico Charcool CH-55. The lower the percentage, the less visible light will be allowed to shine through the glass, which also affects the overall darkness of the tint.

Over and above blocking ordinary visible light, tinting film also blocks dangerous, cancer-causing ultra-violet (UV-A and UV-B) and infra-red (IR), both of which contribute to heat building up inside the vehicle. The effectiveness and extent of the blocking will depend on the quality of the installation, the specific manufacturer, and the type of window film used.

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