Purple Haze

Purple haze all in my eyes…

What happened to my windows! I had window film installed on my windows and the salesperson that sold it to me said that it was the best film on the market… Now my windows are turning purple and I can’t get the company that I contracted to return my call. Believe it or not, this scenario happens regularly. How do I know? Well, I remove quite a bit of that purple stuff. Dyed films are notorious for turning purple. You would think that consumers would start to become more aware of this but just about every day I either drive by a house or a building with purple glass and how many times do we all get passed by a car with purple windows? Nobody wants it, but despite this, people keep buying dyed film. Why?

Lately things don’t seem the same…

The window film industry in recent years has had an influx of new suppliers bringing new products to market at enticing prices. The problem with this situation is that for every good window film that has become available to consumers, there are many more poorly constructed films that have made it to the marketplace as well.

Competition amongst manufacturers is a good thing. It breeds diversity, innovation, and keeps pricing competitive. The problem rears its ugly head when the marketplace gets cramped and does not grow. Companies compete fiercely for market share but the proverbial pie does not get any larger. So without a growing marketplace suppliers have to be strategic as to how they will attract customers to their products.

The path of least resistance has always been to find ways to lower prices in order to increase sales. When prices are lowered something has to give in order to stay profitable. So if you are a manufacturer and you do everything in your power to reduce your operating expenses even going as far as moving your manufacturing facilities to countries where labor is cheaper, you eventually have to give consideration to the quality of materials that you are going to construct your product with. If you want to produce a low price film then you need to find cheaper components. You can also try and minimize the number of components or use a less expensive processes to fabricate all of your components together into the finished product.

I was talking to a Chinese scientist that does R&D for one of the major window film manufactures and he summed it up this way. “If you use cr@p materials and process, you get cr@p film.” I think that sums it up pretty well. The old adage “you get what you pay for…” still holds true but this is not necessarily the most reliable way to spot poorly developed films. Nowadays, even the more expensive films on the market incorporate dyes that can break down or even wear off the film surface.

I can’t tell if it’s day or night…

Dye is an inexpensive way to regulate the visible light transmittance of window film. It also is used to reduce the reflectivity of some metalized window films. Some manufacturers produce very inexpensive films by putting the dye into the adhesive layer because it is an inexpensive and easy process. The problem is that dye located in the adhesive discolors very quickly. Dye in the polyester layer is also susceptible to discoloration, it may take a little longer but it will happen. Even on some so-called “premium window films” dye is incorporated into the scratch resistant coating which is the protective surface layer of window film can wear down from cleaning and is susceptible to organic and inorganic fluids and cleaning materials. Whatever the combination, dye will eventually fade to purple.

The haze can come from a number of sources. The polyester can be one such source, stacking of film layers, pigments, and improper cleaning and maintenance of manufacturing machinery are among other factors that contribute to excessive haze and poor optics. So how does a consumer spot these problems before making the purchase?

The best way is to have samples placed on your windows before you commit to buying. Have differing brands of film placed side by side and look at them throughout the day, even in the evening, and be sure to look at them from the exterior as well. You will be surprised at how one film differs from the next and you will be able to pick out the dyed films right away. As the sun starts to hit the window look for “low angle haze.” Well-made films will be free of such haze and they will look good at any time of day.

I’m not happy… I’m in misery.

Don’t take this wrong but in a day and age where information is more readily available than any other time in human history, there is no excuse for a consumer not to educate themselves. Those who refuse to take advantage of the unprecedented access to what is available will suffer the consequences. A miserable experience can be easily avoided by not hyper-focusing on price but rather, on value. Dye-free films would naturally be the best option. Most ceramic films are dye-fee and there are some Spectrally select Films that are dye-free as well. One good way to spot these products is to look in a manufacture’s marketing material. Look for advertising that states that the product is dye-free.

Other options are to look for films that use pigments instead of dye. Pigments can either be organic or inorganic and are more stable than straight dyed films. There are some trade-offs when you go with films that incorporate pigments, we will try and address these in future blogs.

Once again, the main message is to be informed. Research, ask your window film professional questions, make sure they install samples, and look for good value rather than the cheapest price otherwise you may end up having “Purple Haze All Around…” your home, office, or vehicle.



1 Response to “Purple Haze”

  1. 1 ivar de cesaro September 10, 2008 at 10:35 am

    i need buy imported windows film

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