By Cassandra Balentine
Window films are an excellent tool in architectural settings. With the right finish, they provide privacy, improve energy efficiency, and enhance the appearance of otherwise bland environments. Dusted adhesive media and frosted film options are popular for these purposes.
John Coyne, sales manager, Lintec of America, Inc., feels that a dusted surface offers the end user the desired appearance without the need to digitally print the same dusted look on clear film—saving the end user both time and money.
“Everybody loves a little sparkle, and the versatility of these films both for function and form makes them a go-to option for privacy and pizzaz in graphic applications,” says Jay Kroll, product manager, cut, transit, and wall solutions, General Formulations.
Above: Avery Dennison Dusted Crystal decorative film is the newest decorative film category for glass applications that features a quick-release adhesive allowing for easy installation and removal.
Both cast and calendered adhesive dusted/frosted media options are available.
Avery Dennison Dusted Crystal decorative film is the newest decorative film category for glass applications that features a quick-release adhesive allowing for easy installation and removal. “This film was designed to overcome installation and removal challenges seen with other competitive offerings—with plans for additional product enhancements in the future,” offers Alex Fox, product manager, Digital and Signage, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions.
She says this cast type of product is well suited for architectural graphics applications because of its ability to create privacy for interior spaces while providing a translucent light effect. “In addition, because of our Dusted Crystal film’s adhesive removability, the product is ideal for space and design flexibility. This film can be used whether a space requires easy and fast redesigns or is a more permanent graphics solution. Dusted Crystal film can be a way to differentiate with aesthetically pleasing dusted accents and/or completely privatize spaces without the added cost of remodeling or construction,” adds Fox.
General Formulations has seven year, full polymeric calendered options that utilize a high-performance solvent permanent adhesive. There are GF 790 light etch and GF 791 deep etch options for fine detail, traditional plotter cut applications, as well as a printable air egress GF 790AE light etch option, which is for bubble-free dry installation.
“These etched-glass materials are applied to a variety of materials with a consistent, high-end look, changing basic glass or acrylic partitions into functional, beautiful additions to the design aesthetic of the space,” shares Kroll.
Lintec offers a 3-mil dusted cast adhesive vinyl called MSV-2000. Coyne says advantages of this media include a modified surface for strong ink adhesion, specifically designed cast vinyl for increased dimensional stability, adhesive technology that prevents stretching during release liner removal, easier install due to adhesive technology and stable cast vinyl, and plenty of available stock.
For architectural applications, Coyne believes cast vinyl offers many advantages over calendered vinyl film such as a much lower shrinkage rate and increased durability, which is ideal for outdoor applications.
He admits, however, that cast vinyl is more expensive to manufacture. Additionally, cast adhesive vinyls tend to be flexible and easily stretched, which can lead to difficult installations. “Common problems include accidentally distorting the printed image by stretching the film during release liner removal.”
“Both cast and calendered adhesive vinyls can be removed and replaced with a different design or advertisement without removing the glass,” continues Coyne.
Dusted and frosted vinyls are primarily used—but not limited to—architectural settings.
“Architectural applications are the primary end use for dusted cast adhesive media, which includes a variety of environments such as corporate meeting spaces, schools, retail, medical offices, and hospitality establishments,” says Fox.
However, she points out that this media could also be used as complementary cut signage for branding applications or an added decorative look.
“Dusted media is popular for its use as a privacy film, restricting visibility while still allowing light to move through the material,” offers Kroll.
Coyne agrees, noting that dusted adhesive vinyls are popular for many applications from privacy screens to retail advertisements. “Even mimicking etched glass is not out of the reach for dusted vinyls,” he adds.
Overall, versatility and durability are what make dusted adhesive films well suited for things like architectural applications. “The only limitation on creating a design or image is your imagination,” says Coyne.
Further, films like Lintec’s 3-mil dusted cast adhesive vinyl are designed to withstand exterior applications for several years.
Dusted adhesive vinyls can replace several antiquated methods like edged or sandblasted glass, painting, or added blinds and walls.
“Etched-glass effect vinyl expanded the possibilities for installation and application,” notes Kroll. He adds that sand blasting or chemical etching processes require specialized equipment and are limited to specific substrates.
Etched and sand blasted glass is not only expensive, but fragile as well, and painting takes time and expense. “These techniques would be considered more of a permanent solution,” offers Coyne.
Traditionally blinds or walls may have been used to block off or separate areas, which works to achieve privacy, but blocks light that could help create more inviting and visually appealing spaces. “Dusted Crystal film allows for more flexibility and easy sanitation compared to more traditional partitions,” comments Fox.
Every manufacturers’ combination of film, adhesive, and liner is a little different, and no two products will perform exactly the same, points out Kroll. “Ultimately each material used will require testing but can launch from the platform of a trusted vinyl manufacturer putting out a quality product into the field that has thoroughly been tested for market use.”
Coyne agrees, noting that dusted cast vinyl properties such as dimensional stability, ink adhesion, printer tracking, and ease of install will depend upon variables such as the vinyl ingredients used during casting, the casting process, the adhesive coated on the film, and the type of release liner chosen.
Fox points out that these types of products, and specifically Avery Dennison’s Dusted Crystal, have excellent dimensional stability and a quick release adhesive that allows for the film to easily be repositioned during install. “This generation of Dusted Crystal film is not printable,” she shares.
Calendered properties also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, as will other types of adhesive medias.
Window films are utilized within architectural settings for a variety of reasons, including privacy. Dusted options provide a modern solution to etching and sandblasting.
Nov2022, Digital Output