When I first heard the name Clear Bra, visions of the latest Victoria's Secret catalogue designs ran through my head. I just had to investigate, strictly in pursuit of car care related information, of course.
Paint protection film (PPF) products protect the leading edge of your vehicle from damage caused by rocks, gravel, salt or insects through the application of a thin and virtually invisible urethane paint protection3M Clear Shield, Avery, Durashield, Hartz, Llumar, Premier Protective Films, Stevens Venture Tape XPEL and probably a few others I am forgetting.
Clearly; the best protection if you’re proud of your vehicle. Paint Protection Film (PPF) AKA Clear Bra is a thermoplastic urethane film that is applied to the leading painted surfaces of a new or used car in order to protect the paint from stone chips, bug splatter, and minor abrasions.
Designed to provide years of protection (approx.5-8 years) against road debris, environmental elements, bugs, and abrasions and it can be removed without harming the painted surface. The film has UV inhibitors to maintain the clarity for the life of the installation. It will not change color or turn yellow.
Paint protection film is usually supplied in 50 µ(micron) thickness (although its available in 203µ in bulk roll form, for cut-to-fit applications on hoods, fenders, bumpers, mirrors, rocker panels, and lights, or in pre-cut customized application kits for a wide variety of cars and trucks. Installation - professional application is recommended for best results.
Consider this; [an impact is a high force or shock applied over a short time period when two or more bodies collide.] A high-velocity collision or impact doesn’t provide sufficient time for deformation to occur; different materials can behave in quite different ways in impact when compared with static loading conditions. Thus, the struck material behaves as if it were more brittle than it is, and the majority of the applied force goes into fracturing the impacted material.
If the surface area of impacting object is really small while maintaining an equal force, the applied (PSI) pressure becomes astronomical and the object is capable of penetrating the surface of an otherwise tough material. PPF is not immune to this type of damage although it has a flexible membrane to capture and partially absorb the impact energy; but an impact at high velocity (in this case road grit with an impact speed of 50 + MPH, the damage is proportionate to the relative velocity of the vehicle) which due to it short impact ‘time scale’ lessens the films ability to stretch and deform but will considerably lessen sustained damage
The Columbia disaster was caused by impact damage when a (relatively) small piece of polyurethane foam impacted the carbon fibre composite wing of the space shuttle. Although tests had been conducted before the disaster, the size of the piece was much smaller than that which fell away from the booster rocket and hit the exposed wing.
It is important to remember that paint protection film application is not considered to be a do-it-yourself project. For best results, professional application is recommended.
The finished products quality is only as good as the installation. Searching out a good installer is not an easy task as many companies make outrageous claims of experience and expertise. The most important thing is to see what type of coverage you will get and whether or not it will be in one-piece, especially for the front bumper. Companies that use 1 piece for bumpers are generally more skilled at paint protection film installations
Very few dealerships do this type of work in-house; most sub-contract the installation to their choice of vendors. Usually, this choice is based solely on pricing so that they can obtain the highest margin; every dealership has their own policy in vendor markups. Unfortunately, this also means that you have multiple installers bidding for the same dealership. When this happens, you will likely get the least experienced installer performing the job for the lowest price, which often compromises quality.
Using the same patented technology Racing Optics™ has developed a tear offs system for car windshields. This product can be considered not only as a way to have a clearer vision but as a windshield protector as well. We use a sturdy 4mil thick material that is pre laminated in layers of four.
This tear offs system for windshields is an install the only product. Please contact one of their partner companies to learn more about how to have Racing Optics laminated windshield products installed on your race or passenger car.
Ensure that there are no paint surface imperfections before installation, the paint should be free of any silicone, wax or polymer sealant to ensure the adhesive will bond correctly. It is important to remember that paint protection film application is not considered to be a do-it-yourself project. For best results, professional application is recommended.
Vinyl Auto Body Wrap
Vinyl body wraps are becoming an increasingly popular aftermarket accessory, changing the look of a car as well as preserving the original paint from chips and scratches
PPF is a clear urethane film that is designed to be applied onto paint’s surface to provide maximum protection for as long as the film stays on the paint. There are various brands of paint protection film on the market (3M, Avery, Bekaert, Llumar, Madico, Premier Protective Films and Venture)
Clear film vinyl wrap has many advantages. For one, you basically save time and money on repairs normally requiring bodywork. Repairs such as paint chips, the car getting keyed, scrapes and scuffs, etc, as the film protects you from all that and keeps the car original and body repair work-free.
Regular solid colour vinyl wraps approximately $1,500 -3000, Custom design $2000 – 3,000 (USD April 2011).
Several things to keep in mind:
1. Installation is the key - no bubbles, no wrinkles
2. Also part of installation experience - razor cuts in paint. Be sure to check to see what their warranty is on razor paint cuts.
3. Pre-installation- a completely clean surface free of any products or contaminants is a requirement. Installers will use a chemical paint cleaner to enable the adhesives used to adhere efficiently
4. Vinyl can be removed without harming OEM paint. If you have aftermarket paint, then there is a chance of paint coming up with the vinyl
5. Paint can take 1-2 weeks for an entire car. Vinyl can be applied in 2-4 days depending on the shop's capabilities/manpower
6. Retain OEM paint. When you get tired of the vinyl, it can be removed and redone with another colour without affecting the underlying paint
7. Do not use products that contain petroleum distillates as urethane absorbs them and causes it to yellow.
8. Always remove stains as soon as possible using a mild detergent
9. Repainting an entire car properly would cost anywhere from $8k-$12k depending on the exact vehicle vs. typical vinyl installations ( ~ $3k Premier Protective Films)
10. In general, the amount of orange peel is directly proportionate with the texture of the liner the material is laminated to. If the liner is made of paper, you will see a higher amount of orange peel. If it is on a smooth, optically clear plastic liner (such as polyester), you will have no orange peel.
11. Care and maintenance recommendations are often dependent upon manufacturers grade of film
Cleaning / Care
I would test any product on an inconspicuous spot first. The material used to fabricate paint protection film (PPF) can vary dramatically and respond quite differently so use caution
Swisswax Opaque products for Matte Satin finish vinyl wraps have been specifically developed (oil free) to ensure that they don’t change the appearance of matt satin paint or vinyl wraps.
1. Wash surface with Swisswax (SV) Opaque Car Bath
2. Prior to wax application the wrap needs to be totally free from oils and dirt. Clean all wrapped surfaces with SV Opaque Pre-cleaner.
3. Spray a 100% cotton micro fibre towel and apply to one panel at a time.
4. Wipe off with a clean 100% cotton towel
5. Apply SV Opaque Wax to one panel at a time, this wax will provide depth without adding a shine
6. Allow to dry for 10 minutes before buffing off and moving to the next section.
7. After the wax has out gassed and set-up, allow 2-3 hours and then buff the surface with a soft 100% cotton micro fibre towel
8. Use Quick Finish Opaque as a quick detailer to remove finger marks and smudges
Alternative products- Optimum Polymer Technologies Opti-Coat 2.0 is a professional grade paint coating that forms a permanent shield on your car’s finish. It is not a wax or paint sealant, both of which are sacrificial in nature and degrade over time, but is a glossy, clear coating that uses advanced resin technology to protect PPF, paint, wheels, plastic trim, metal surface, and head lights.
Why is it important not to use products containing petroleum based solvents? Acrylic, polycarbonates, and plastics are all porous materials. They will absorb whatever you place on their surface over time. Avoid using any products containing petroleum distillates, as they will remove the plasticisers from the urethane film and it will absorb dirt and road grime like a sponge. They also have the ability to degrade the backing and/or adhesive as well its effect on dulling or creating inconsistent clarity on the surface of the film.
Petroleum based solvents will break down, deteriorate and cause the surface to yellow, there are many ways solvents are introduced to transparencies: washer/cleaner fluids, jet fuel, de-icing fluids, paint thinners, unapproved window cleaners, and polishes. It is very important to read the labels of the products you use around your transparencies. Anything containing, petroleum distillates, ammonia, or alcohol is not recommended.
Loss of Gloss or Shine
Wash surface to remove any dirt or road grime and then dry thoroughly. To restore the gloss to clear vinyl use a heat-gun 24-inches from the surface using slow oscillating motions, be patient as this takes time (approx. 30 minutes or so) gradually the vinyl's gloss will be restored.
(PPF) Film Yellowing
The film itself is optically clear, most ‘yellowing ‘on clear film is caused by oils, road grime, diesel smoke and dirt from the road and other environmental contaminants staining the film, as opposed to ultra violet (UV-B) photosynthesis.
The exception to this is where a solvent or other chemical has been used on the film that causes a yellowing reaction with the polyurethane (Kerosene, Toluene, and Xylene) and some other solvents or propellants commonly used in many adhesive removers. Toluene can be used in small quantities without adverse effects, but in concentrated form, if left on film and not neutralized right after use it will cause yellowing.
Toluene will degrade polymers, so do not use on headlights indicator lenses or urethane convertible rear. Also, any products that are formulated with petroleum distillates (paraffin wax, etc) will also cause yellowing
This usually happens when using a liquid wax product, which uses kerosene as a solvent for its carrier system or some bug and tar removers which contain the solvents already mentioned. If the contaminants are allowed to permeate too deep into the pores of the film, it can be difficult or impossible to remove.
Best prevention is to seal the film with a polyurethane safe sealant to slow down the absorption, and then clean it regularly with a purpose made cleaner.
The chemicals within some plastic cleaners can actually be harmful to the film if left on for an extended period of time. Certain propellants within aerosol canisters are responsible for excessively drying out the pores of the clear bra, which then leaves them open to the elements and yellowing. Plexus tends to yellow, just take a look at the white nozzle after some time; it actually turns yellow. It also contains butane, which dries out the micropores of the urethane film
Do not use products that contain butane, propane, dyes, aerosols that use isobutene (methyl propane) as a propellant, or petroleum distillates solvents
1. Swisswax Car Bath Opaque shampoo concentrate (500 litres of wash solution) developed for satin matt finishes or Optimum Technologies ONR, which due to its surfactants and high lubricity makes an ideal wash product for PPF or vinyl wraps
2. Premier Protective Films - PF1 TT a deep cleaning surfactant based product. It is designed to remove oils and environmental contaminants, which are the primary cause of yellowing. It is sprayed on and rinsed off, rather than sprayed on and wiped off.
3. To clean stains use a citrus based cleaner (P12S Total Auto Wash) polish the paint and the clear plastics separately, tape the edges with masking tape (3M Fine Line ) 0.25-inch masking tape
4. Use Z-14 Plastic Magic Cleaner & Polish™ or Premier Protective Films International (PF1) Film Cleanse for maintenance and to remove any finger marks/smudges
5. Remove surface contaminants with a mild cut detailer’s clay (Sonus Mild Green clay) Be sure to wash the surface of the film first and. keep it well lubricated, tape the edges
6. To clean and maintain the surface any product used on a clear bra should be optically clear and provide UV protection (Z8 Grand Finale Spray Seal or PF1 Crystalline) The design of the nano crystals within Crystalline will bond with the acrylic clear coat of your paint protection film providing a long-lasting protective coating
7. Product application - start at the centre and work outwards, do not use an abrasive compound on the plastic surface or detailer’s clay as it will cause micro-fine surface scratches.
8. Another caution is to avoid buffing over the seams, which creates a noticeable wax line as well.
9. Use only a mild to light duty clay, applied to a clean, washed surface. Do not use clay over dirt covered film. Use plenty of surface lubrication. If you have a partial bra (not a full panel wrap) tape the seams.
10. To remove ‘clouding’ from the paint under the clear bra; the suns heat (infrared lamp, heat gun or a hairdryer) will remove it. Often it's the adhesive that’s used on the film that turns cloudy or yellow, not the film itself
11. Providing protection from ultra violet radiation (UVR) is very important to avoid photo synthesis (colour fading / yellowing) UVR protection is a sacrificial/renewable component; this is due to the UV protection layer being degraded by exposure to the elements (sun, sand, road or sea salt, and etc) so it is imperative that you renew it and needs to be re-applied on a regular 45 to 60 day basis (dependent upon location and environmental conditions)
Application- use 303™ Space Protectant, spray product onto a micro fibre towel, gently wipe surface working from the centre outwards
Minor scratches - similar to a scratch in the paint, depending on how deep the scratch is will depend on how well you can remove it by polishing.
To remove minor scratches in the film; tape the edges of the paint protection film when using a machine polisher. Use Menzerna Polish (PO 106 FF- SF4000 or PO 85 U- FF3000) and Lake County (LC) Black Finishing foam pad (70 PPI) at 900 RPM/speed # 3-4, do not use any downward machine pressure and maintain a fast linear motion. It is important not to apply a lot of pressure to the film as this may lead to burning or smudging of the surface. Use a Q-tip and some isopropyl alcohol to clean out the edge. Depending on the severity of the indentation will depend on how well it can be removed or lightened up.
An alternative - Novus Plastic Scratch Remover with an LC Black pad using a PC speed # 4.
What can be done about the wax build up along the seams and how can I avoid it?
Are you sure it's wax and not the glue from the Clear Bra or dirt? As it gets warm, some of them will shrink a little and leave residue around the edges.
Gently remove with an adhesive remover on a micro fibre towel. Be sure to go over any paint that you get the adhesive remover on with a protective wax; put a vinyl protection on any clear bra you get the adhesive remover on.
When waxing around a clear bra, mask off the line just a little over the edge with blue painter's tape. Wax will leave a white line on the seam, use painter’s tape to mask the seams before polishing/waxing and wax the film and uncovered portions separately to keep from wax build-up.
When you remove the tape just wipe off the wax on the paint. If you accidentally wax over the seam, use 3M Citrus Based Spray Adhesive Remover and a Q-Tip or a damp micro fibre towel and rub it off.
Maintenance / Care
· Maintenance cleaning - mix a 1:20 solution of Optimum No Rinse (ONR) and distilled water. Put the solution in a fine mist trigger spray bottle. Use a 100% cotton medium nap micro fibre towel to avoid static between the urethane PPF and a polyester Microfiber
· Premier Protective Films - PF1 TT is an advanced agent that attacks the marks and transfers at the micro-level to loosen up these particles so that it may be safely wiped off with a clean micro fibre towel. Most importantly, it can be utilized on paint protection film with a clear coat safely. Simply clean the area in which it will be applied. Next, spray on and in five seconds; begin wiping with a clean micro fibre towel. Repeat these steps as needed.
· Zaino Z-CS Clear Seal or PF1 Crystalline - wipe on, and wipe off (WOWO) walk away, no buffing, just allow to air dry. Use on paint, glass, wheels, plastic, clear bra, or trim for the protection, durability, slickness, and gloss. All surfaces are protected against potentially damaging exposure to the sun or ultraviolet light with UV inhibitors.
Products for clear Film
Premier Protective Films (PF1) Film Cleanse is a non-aerosol product that is designed specifically for the acrylic clear coat of today’s paint protection film. The clear coat on clear bras are very different from the clear coat on cars’ paint today, which is why Premier in early 2008 set out to develop a product that can properly clean paint protection film. The product will not dry out the pores of the film and does not carry any type of polish that can abrade the film. Film Cleanse is a deep cleaner with acrylic resins designed to lift the dirt off the film before cleaning/wiping. The product not only deep cleans, but it also does not strip the film of protective sealants and waxes. 16 oz bottle - $20
PF1 Crystalline - To properly protect the paint protection film on your car, Crystalline is your solution. PF1 Crystalline assist in protecting the paint protection film (PPF) but it also provides added depth to the film. The product does not contain any dyes that can potentially yellow the clear bra. The design of the nano crystals within Crystalline will bond with the acrylic clear coat of your paint protection film providing a long-lasting protective coating that also adds a deep shine and gloss. Cure time for Crystalline is only 15 minutes vs. some paint sealants to take up to 8 hours to cure. Once the crystals bond to the pores of the film’s clear coat, removal of the residue is easy and does not flake to a powdery form.
PF1-Tire, Tar, and Rubber (TTR) - engineered by Premier to assist in removing tough, stubborn markings from paint protection film; this product can safely eliminate tough transfer from clear bras. This has been tested on all major brands of film and has been successful in extracting track rubber, smudges, and colour transfers.
Safe Removal of Bird Excrement
To safely remove bird excrement without causing scratches to the paint protection film (PPF) surface; use a solution of Optimum no-rinse (ONR) diluted 1:20 / distilled water in a fine mist spray bottle) and allow to remain in place as this will soften debris and allow it to be removed. Use very little surface pressure, dusting with long strokes in one direction only, this will lessen surface scratching as they ‘lift’ dust etc into the media
Use a long nap micro fibre towel to ensure the debris that is lifted from the PPF surface remains in the nap and not on the towel surface thereby causing surface marring. Shake the towel occasionally to ensure any particles picked up will drop out rather than come to the surface while you’re using it.
Do not scrub hardened/dried excrement residue, birds use gravel to help digest their food so grit and sand are some of the major components, which can cause scratching as it is very abrasive and will scratch the PPF surface.
Once it softened (re-liquefied) it enables their removal with less likelihood of damage to the surface of the film. Do not use on a hot paint surface (soon after driving) as this will cause streaking?
Stains – to remove stains from PPF surface use a safe solvent (P21S Total Auto Wash) a d-limonene (citrus) based cleaner or Isopropyl alcohol (IPA), it may take a few attempts to fully remove. Do not scrub hardened/dried excrement residue as it is very abrasive and will scratch the surface, once they are softened (re-liquefied) it enables their removal with less likelihood of damage to the PPF surface
Bug blood - whilst this doesn’t happen often, you may get the odd red or yellow bug blood stain on your film (you can help avoid this by regularly waxing the film). This is no big deal on MOST films this will bleach out in the sun, the blood does not penetrate the film but as some bug blood is used as a dye then it should be no surprise that this can occur. As Indicated this is a temporary problem with most films and will fade out over time in the sun, how long depends on the severity of the stain and intensity of the sun during bleaching out.
Neutralization - Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda); first ensure the surface is cool. Mix a small amount (about 1/2 cup) of baking soda and a little water to make a paste (with the consistency of pancake syrup)Spread it on the affected surface working it around well and let it sit for ½ hr. Remove, rinse and dry.
Avoid using a QD spray to flush residue, as they contain either carnauba wax or polymer sealants, which will seal the acid and not allow it to dissipate. Using an alkaline rinse of baking soda and water (to neutralize the acid) as soon as is practical is highly recommended, if the affected paintwork is not neutralized any remaining acid residue will be reactivated by heat and moisture acting as a catalyst.
Thoroughly inspect the film before attempting to remove it, look for any cuts in the paint as these will cause the paint to peel off during removal. It is not very difficult to remove, apply heat to a corner with a hair dryer (not a heat gun) and work slowly to avoid breaking or tearing the vinyl (like any applied vinyl, the longer it’s been applied the more difficult it will be to remove) pull upwards at a 45-degree angle, work slowly and be patient. Detailer’s clay and /or 1:1 Isopropyl Alcohol / distilled water or 3M Adhesive Remover to clean any adhesive residue.
Adhesive removal – 3M Citrus Based Spray Adhesive Remover – a citrus-based, solvent-free adhesive remover leaves surfaces clean and dries with no residue. Removes tape residue from masking, foam or duct tape, clean, fresh citrus scent. Saturate a micro fibre towel by allowing the product to remain in place for a few minutes and agitating the adhesive residue to remove
1. Plexus tends to yellow just take a look at the white nozzle after some time; it actually turns yellow. It also contains butane, which dries out the micro-pores of the urethane film
2. If the film is properly applied to a fully cured painted vehicle, it can be removed, usually in one piece, without damaging the paint surfaces beneath the film by pulling the film at an angle not straight up.
3. If this is a used car, speak with the previous owner to see if the film was applied to aftermarket paint. If it is be very careful because the paint may lift.
This doesn't happen with OEM paint, only some poorly prepped / primed aftermarket paint. Start on one corner and begin peeling / pulling towards your body at a slight angle.
4. Repainted vehicles, paint must be thoroughly dry and completely cured before any attempt to apply film to the vehicle is made, in order to avoid film bubbling (solvent pop) due to paint out-gassing. Check paint body shop and / or paint manufacturer's instructions for recommended cure time and method.
5. Avoid the use of products that are formulated with Butane as it dries out the pores of the film