Paint protection film was first made by 3M in 1960 on the request of Unites States Army to protect helicopter rotar blades from damage in desert operations. More than 50 years after it was first used, 3M has made it commercially available as an after market option for paint protection. Recently introduced by 3M in India, the Paint Protection Film (PPF) comes across as a must have on your new car. What exactly is it? We find out.
3M Scotchgard Paint Protection Film (PPF) is a transparent Urethane Film specially designed to preserve the beauty and integrity of automotive finishes. It helps protect a vehicle’s paint finish from harsh conditions and other potential sources of damage on the road such as stones, sand, road debris and bug acids that damage the paint. This film can be applied on the hood, fenders, bumper or the entire surface of the car. 3M offers different packages for PPF namely city, city +, highway and highway +. In the city package the front and rear bumpers are covered, city + package includes the external rear view mirrors. The highway package also includes the bonnet. If you frequently ply on the highways, with time you will notice that small stones hitting the car at high speeds can actually peel away the paint, leaving the front bumper blotchy.
Application - The application is a time consuming affair, especially because the 3M guys take their work seriously. Our Maruti Suzuki Swift took almost four hours for the application, but it included a few additional things such as removal of minor scratches and polishing before application.
The first step is washing the car. To get a spotless vehicle, high pressure spray and foam is used.
3M uses their in-house universal cleaning solution to remove debris which settles in the crevices. It is important that the area to be covered is cleaned thoroughly else the dirt will be visible through the film. The film application cost only covers the washing and application. Any extra procedure such as debris removal with the cleaner, gloss and polish is charged extra.
Once the area of application is completely clean, soap spray is used to clean the surface. 3M uses Johnson baby shampoo as it has the minimum amount of chemicals. If the chemicals are in excess, they may interfere with the adhesive properties of the film. The cloth used to wipe the bumper clean is also a 3M product and wipes the area clean without causing even a minor scratch.
The film required is cut from the master roll as per the size and dimension of the area to be covered.
The film is similar to a window film. A thin layer of plastic is peeled off to reveal the adhesive layer which is adapted carefully. Film application is a very technique sensitive job, a skilled worker can make this look easy but its mighty difficult. As far as possible, the film is used as a single piece. In case this is not possible, the joints are placed so close to each other, they are hardly visible.
The film is adapted around the curvature of the bumper.
The fine adjustments are done and the excess is cut off.
A finished job looks like a new freshly painted bumper has been put on. The best part is, if you need to remove the film for any reason, it leaves absolutely no residue and will not peel off the paint. We recommend in case you need to remove it, visit the nearest 3M centre rather than attempting it yourself.
3M Paint Protection Films are available at 3M Car Care Stores all over the country. The application is done by experts who are trained by 3M carefully on using the right materials and match the contours of the car. It costs roughly Rs. 455/- per square foot. You can either opt for the packages offered by 3M or can make your own customized package. We opted for the front and rear bumper for our Swift and this area was roughly 29 square feet. The only precaution you need to observe is to refrain from washing your car with diesel as it will cause a yellow discoloration on the film. So next time your car goes for service, make it a point to remind the service guys. The film does tend to turn yellow with time (about 5 years) and is only noticeable on a white car. 3M claims that the average life of the film once applied is about 5 years which is good enough. After using the film on our car, we will recommend it as a must have, especially for your brand new car.