Scratching And Healing My Own Car – How Protective Films Work


The first thing i’m going to do is take this permanent marker and walk on over here to my Crosstrek and draw a little EE logo that looks pretty good. Hello everyone and welcome! In this video we are talking about paint protective films more specifically XPEL ULTIMATE. So XPEL reached out to me and they said “hey would you like to put our paint protective film on both of your cars?” Perhaps they knew I was prone to crashing into my garage this won’t prevent you from running into your garage, but it certainly can help with scratches so I happily agreed and in this video we’re gonna be talking about how this stuff actually works, but first two simple demonstrations, okay so first up here is the EE logo which I just drew and i’m just going to take this little swab which is soaked in alcohol and rub over it and as you can see it disappears quite easily now removing permanent marker is cool but what’s more special about this paint protective film is its ability to heal scratches so right here, I have a brass wire brush, and we’re gonna go ahead and zoom in on the paint here and this feels extremely awkward to do I told myself I was gonna do it on the s2000, but I just don’t have it in me so we’re gonna just… Oh god, scrape that across. And you can you can honestly scrape harder, but it’s really uncomfortable to do my heart’s kind of racing as I do this but anyways you can see that scratch there left from the wire brush and all we’re gonna do is take a heat gun it’s got this heat gun here. Here’s our scratch. And you can also use hot water and just dump the hot water over it and that is so cool and as you can see just completely removes that scratch. That’s incredible now when I was at the shop getting the film installed they had a piece of sheet metal painted and wrapped with XPEL ULTIMATE and as you can see you can apply significantly more pressure and still remove these scratches with heat I just can’t bring myself to press nearly as hard on my own vehicle but it’s very cool to know that it can take it and as cool as this is to see on camera it’s pretty mind-blowing when you apply and heal the scratches yourself in person. So what is this stuff? Well it’s made up of three layers plus a release liner the release liner is about 3mm thick and is removed before installation to reveal the adhesive the next layer is an acrylic adhesive about 1.6mm 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 6mm 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 can 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 0.5mm 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 rearranged 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 refreeze 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 simply letting the car sit outside in the sun will let the film return to its lowest energy state. And for those of you who were wondering, yes this does mean you could take your car through an automated car wash and not worry about ruining your exterior. Now let’s dive a little bit into the process of how this film is applied. I had mine put on at TransGuard in Boise, this is a local shop that’s run by Scott who has an obvious passion for what he does and him and his team did an incredible job with the installation first off the car needs to be clean rinsed down and then washed with soap and water you don’t want to use detergents when washing it as these can make the surface more challenging for the film to adhere to after washing, the car is gone over with a clay bar and then a mild polish to get the paint smooth and fine. Polishing is the last step, you don’t want any wax on the paint. Next we move on to cutting the film for the desired body panel this itself is a bit of an art and XPEL provides two-dimensional cut patterns which in combination with the film’s ability to stretch and compress allow for fitting at over three dimensional curved body surfaces you can also manipulate these designs for custom fittings. A plotter cutter is used to cut out the patterns a very cool printer that cuts the film to the exact dimensions you’ve specified on the computer. The body panel is sprayed with soap and water and after removing the release liner this soap and water allows you to position the film in the desired location once you’ve positioned the film an alcohol water mix is sprayed underneath to remove the soap and water and give a clean surface for the film to here too you can lock the film in place by squeegeeing down a single spot. then you can continue to squeegee and stretch the film as needed to perfectly fit over the body panel for areas like the corner of a hood where the film wraps around Scott uses a little bit of XPEL adhesive promoter this has a molecule which one side wants to bond to the car paint and the other side wants to bond to the adhesive side of the film which creates a strong bond at wrapped edges for a good hold then it’s simply a matter of working panel to panel properly positioning and cutting the film for each area and repeating the process to cover the vehicle. While the vast majority of newer cars will have cutouts readily available older cars will have to be custom cut. My s2000 did have some patterns available but Scott also added his own modifications to provide a perfect fit. The process is extremely labor-intensive and I grew a real appreciation for how complex this installation can be. In the end the film looked flawless and unless you get up super close and know exactly what to look for you can’t really even tell it’s on there so a huge thank you to XPEL. I will include a link in the video description where you can find certified installers if interested and it has to be said that Scott and his team at TransGuard in Boise do incredible work. He really cares about perfection and it shows in the quality of the install and i’m thrilled to have had him work on my car. If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below. Thanks for watching!

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