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Channel: Engineering Explained
How XPEL ULTIMATE Paint Protective Film Self Heals Car Scratches
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Is the film removable? Yes! The adhesive is well balanced so that the film is completely removable, but it adheres well enough that if it's installed correctly it will not peel up, nor will dirt work it's way under the edges.
Can areas other than the front, for example doors and rocker panels, be covered with protective film? Yes! Installers regularly cover the painted surfaces of entire vehicles (such as my S2000). And it's not just sports cars, they often fully cover pickups and SUVs, adding protection for work sites, off road, and on road debris. A client can have paint protection film put on as much or as little of their vehicle as he or she likes.
What is this XPEL ULTIMATE? Well it’s made up of three layers, plus a release liner. The release liner is about 3 mil thick, and is removed before installation to reveal the adhesive. The next layer is an acrylic adhesive, about 1.6 mil thick. The adhesive bonds the protective film to the car, but it also has a stronger bond to the film layer than your car, which means you could always remove the film down the line if you choose to. The second layer, and the meat of the film is a 6 mil polyurethane layer. This layer is important for energy absorption, so if a rock were to hit your car, the layer dissipates the energy across a wider surface area, and prevents your paint from chipping.
Now if you were to stop with just two layers, the urethane layer is porous. These pores tend to open up with heat, and close when it’s cold. As a result, you could get pollen, diesel exhaust particulates, dust, and other road grime that could build up in the pores, and eventually you would see the film start to discolor. To prevent this, XPEL ULTIMATE has one final layer, a clear coat about 0.5 mil thick. This top coat is a harder layer, but it’s still very capable of being stretched. The hard, smooth top layer makes the film more environmentally stable, providing self-healing properties, chemical resistance, oxidation resistance, and preventing contaminants from entering the film and discoloring it.
But of course the question you’re wondering is how does this stuff self-heal simply with the application of heat? From a physical standpoint, the important thing to understand is that these scratches are more like surface rearrangements, rather than tears in the film. The film can withstand a lot of pressure without tearing, though of course if you were to take for example a knife and stab through it, you cannot heal a tear through the entire film. Using a wire brush and creating surface scratches, what’s actually happening is the surface of the film is simply being re-arranged into a different shape. The film wants to return to its lowest energy state, but because it’s relatively cool, the film maintains the shape created with the wire brush. When you add heat, it allows the film to return to its lowest, flattest energy state, and once again it appears perfectly smooth and clear. You could almost think of it like an ice-cube, not a perfect analogy, but you can scratch an ice cube, heat up the scratches back to a smooth state, and then re-freeze it back to its original state. In a similar manner, heat allows this film to return to its original state. And it doesn’t even necessarily require a ton of heat, simple letting the car sit outside in the sun will let the film return to its lowest energy state.
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Video length: 7:49
Category: Autos & Vehicles