Having ULC or UL certification for safety/security film products is very important, as either standard is often shown in specifications, particularly at the various Government levels. Supertint has UL972 certification, and the testing to confirm meeting this standard was done at the UL test facility in the U.S. UL972 is recognized in both U.S. and Canada.
The first is the claim that certain window films make glass “bullet-resistant” or even “bullet proof.” Will safety and security window films actually stop a bullet? The present fact is that no blanket statement can be made about this. There are many reported instances where bullets have indeed been stopped, but the ballistic variables are too numerous to allow easy generalizations. The size, shape, mass, velocity, and trajectory of the bullet as well as the composition and thickness of glass on which it is installed make it dangerous to make any precise, warrantable claims. Generally, smaller caliber bullets can be, in differing circumstances, deflected, slowed, and occasionally stopped altogether. Films do serve very well as a “spall shield,” preventing dangerous chunks of glass from flying off the interior of the glass when struck by a projectile on the outside surface. But for a film company in the industry to make a justified claim about their films being “bullet-proof” or even “bullet-resistant,” industry standards must be specified and independent testing must be performed. The results of such tests, in the form of official documents, should be available upon demand as proof of the claims being made.
We do know, from independent testing, that specified SuperTint films on glass provide substantial penetration resistance, safety hazard mitigation, and a persistent weather seal in simulated events and controlled tests with various impactors, including hurled bricks, rocks, crowbars, hammers, bomb blasts, seismic events, and windborne debris.
We also know that on ordinary glass found in homes and commercial buildings, film does not significantly impede ballistic penetration, though works well as a “spall shield” on ballistic or forced entry barrier glass glazing to stop small pieces of glass from flying off the inside surface.
Consumers should always be advised to carefully read any test reports or carefully view any sales videos to ascertain the glass type used in the test so as not to make assumptions about what they saw or what a test report might truly be saying. For example, we should ask: Could it be that it is the glass that is actually slowing and stopping the bullet and not the film? How thick is the glass? How thick is the film? How many layers? Is the film serving more as a spall shield to block glass fragments from flying off the interior surface? We should also ask pointed questions about where the film is located in the testing and whether the location of the film in the test (often both sides of the glass) is practical in their real-life situation.
The bottom line warning we want to make is this: If there is reluctance from competitors to provide independent test documents for the effectiveness of safety and security films, there is one thing of which you can be assured: the claims being made are questionable indeed. The more significant the claim, the more urgent the need for independent documentation. The greater the reluctance to offer the proof, the more likely the claims are not defensible. Remember: retro-fitted films alone are not considered “code-compliant.” Code-compliance requires that an entire, specific, glazing system be tested under code-specified conditions.
What Are Safety and Security Films?
SuperTint Safety and Security Films comprise a special class of window film products. What distinguish them as a group are both their physical properties and the uses to which they are put. Functionally, they provide a stronger physical barrier that is more firmly bonded to the glass surface (generally speaking) than conventional solar control or decorative films. While solar control & decorative elements can be, and often are, added to safety and security films, it is their physical properties (such as their peel, tensile, and break strength) that allow them serve a variety of safety and other protective uses. These functions, discussed below, can be grouped into seven major categories, with corresponding unique market avenues.
Spontaneous Glass Breakage
There is growing awareness that tempered glass windows are often subject to sudden, random, catastrophic failure, for no readily apparent reason. We now understand that surface contaminants (nickel sulfide inclusions, for example) embedded in the glass during manufacturing can cause this explosive failure months or years later. Such failure in homes and commercial buildings can cause a sudden opening in the building, exposing its contents to the elements, with wind and rain causing far more damage than the simple cost of replacing a window pane. Protective safety films are an ideal remedy to maintain the weather seal of the building and prevent the massive rain of glass pellets that would otherwise instantly fall from tempered glass breakage.
Most types of glass, when broken from any cause, particularly from human impact, produce sharp, ragged shards that are extremely dangerous to people. Even tempered glass in auto accidents can produce showers of small glass pellets that can cause serious injury to passengers. To meet the requirements for personal safety specified in various building codes, certain films, in many jurisdictions, serve to upgrade existing glazing to meet safety standards.
In many parts of the world, earthquake activity is an ever-present fact of life. Ground motion during seismic activity causes building movement, which in turn causes glass breakage and glass fall-out, endangering people below, and again exposing a building’s contents to weather damage and theft during looting sprees. Safety and security films have proven their worth in protecting people and property during seismic activity.
Many cities in the world are experiencing the growing problem of vandals “tagging” glass and other surfaces in public places using mechanical etching tools, acid, and paint. Specially designed films, nearly invisible once installed, provide a removable, sacrificial surface that can cost-effectively reduce or eliminate the need for glass replacement. Often, certain non-glass surfaces can be protected in this manner was well, such as the stainless steel and brass surfaces in elevators.
No one needs to be reminded that explosions, whether motivated by terrorist agendas or caused by industrial accidents, generally cause lethal damage to life and expensive damage to property from the massive sprays of shattered glass, and often at great distances from the blast itself. Flying glass is often the single greatest source of injury and death in such explosions. But what everyone needs to know is that selected safety and security films perform astonishingly well to contain the spray of shards, and with certain installation techniques can hold the pane entirely within its frame.
With urban density increasing in storm-prone areas of the world, damage to property from wind-borne debris is a growing concern. Whether hurricanes are increasing in frequency and severity is matter for the Weather Service to decide, but it is clear that safety and security films have much to offer to mitigate the damage from wind-borne debris. By helping to prevent windows from shattering, they can help maintain the weather seal of the building that would otherwise open structures to damaging water and high winds. Roofs are less likely to be lifted away, and entire buildings can be more frequently saved.
While little can be done to thwart a determined and well-equipped thief, much can be done to reduce the likelihood of successful forced-entry attempts in homes, businesses, and cars. The most likely entry point for illegal intrusion is the building or car’s weakest barrier: the windows. Various security films, with simple perimeter attachment systems or special installation methods, are extremely effective at slowing down the intruder to the point where he simply decides to go elsewhere before the police arrive.
How Are Security Films Installed?
Security films have a very aggressive, pressure-sensitive adhesive, protected by a clear plastic liner. The film is cut to exact size prior to installation, the glass is cleaned meticulously, and the film applied to the inside surface of the glass. The adhesive is activated with water and a surfactant. After the film is in position, the water/ surfactant solution is firmly squeegeed out from between the film and the glass . The combination of minimum soap and maximum pressure ensures the strongest possible bond to the glass. A visible border of 1/16″ to 1/8″ around the edges of the glass is typical, and does not appreciably affect the final strength – except with tempered glass
SuperTint security film has a very durable, scratch-resistant, acrylic surface finish, which field tests have proven to be the best in the industry. Normal wear and tear should be no problem. Conventional non-ammonia glass cleaners are recommended for cleaning, along with paper towels, soft cloths, or rubber squeegees.