By Cassandra Balentine
Architects, designers, and corporate brands spruce up work environments with the help of window films. While 2020 pushed many outside the office, as the workforce enters a new kind of normal, graphics play a big role. For architectural purposes—think restaurants, corporate offices, conference rooms, banks, hospitals, and medical offices—window media helps control heat, provides privacy, reduces glare, lowers energy costs, and of course presents branding and messaging opportunities.
“Window films today help define a space, improve privacy, and create brand awareness. Printers mostly install on the interior, but you can print in reverse for exterior viewing. Removable adhesives help create a temporary window design for promotion and conveying important information to the customer,” shares Amanda Smith, product manager, Mactac.
A range of window media options are available for interior and exterior windows, including clear, white, frosted, and dusted. Products also include scratch-resistant and anti-graffiti features. Printable and non-printable solutions are on the market.
Window graphics are ideal for a range of environments. Since we’re focusing on architectural uses in this piece, let’s discuss the specifics for these placements.
Managing sunlight is one of the most practical and important features window media can provide.
Ideal feature sets for window media selection depend greatly on what the architect/designer and customer are going for. “If the film is going to be mounted facing the sunshine then UV blocking film becomes an important feature,” says Jim Halloran, VP of sales and marketing, Lintec of America, Inc.
Jim Black, senior director of window film sale, Madico, Inc., agrees, adding that window films are an attractive addition to architectural projects because they block 99 percent of the sun’s damaging UV rays, while adding energy savings, temperature control, reduced fading, and privacy. “By rejecting up to 86 percent of the sun’s heat, Madico solar control window films dramatically lower air conditioning costs in the warmer months and reflect heat back into the space during the winter months.”
He explains that traditional films are reflective in appearance and can reject heat and keep homes and offices more comfortable. Dual reflective films provide sun protection while minimizing daytime heat and glare. These films offer optimal nighttime views by reducing the interior reflectivity of glass, providing a more natural appearance. “Neutral films are less reflective than traditional film—reducing glare and preventing heat gain, all while providing a natural, neutral tone,” explains Black.
Molly Waters, senior technical specialist, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, notes that interior solar window films filter solar radiation, enhance comfort, promote privacy, and transform a building’s appearance. “This translates to reducing the fading of interiors, lowering room heat build-up, and limiting cooling costs.”
Products made specifically for exterior applications can cut glare, block UV rays, and help lower cooling costs with providing a uniform exterior appearance. “Solar safety and security films combine safety and security film with solar control properties to reduce the energy consumption of a building,” says Black.
Avery Dennison offers the XTRM product line, which is a long-lasting window film that can change the entire look of a building. “Using a product such as our R Silver 20 XTRM you can go from an outdated exterior to a more pleasing appearance at a fraction of the cost of replacing all of the glazing,” suggests Waters.
Besides controlling solar elements, other considerations include the length of time window media is expected to be up, intended use, and removability.
“Depending on how long the film will be up it stops any kind of shrinking and fading from happening,” shares Halloran.
Design flexibility is an important feature for architectural projects. “Having the right product to give the desired look whether it be privacy, decorative, or functional is needed. Products need to be easy to install as well as durable, yet removable without damaging the glass. These are considerations when choosing the right product for your projects,” offers Jen Daly, application engineer, 3M.
“Removability sometimes isn’t thought about at the beginning of a project but when changes need to be made it becomes really important. In our experience polyester uninstalls easier than PVC. The reason for this is it tends to stay in one sheet during removal, versus breaking up into strips. Lintec also offers a high-tack removable adhesive just for this purpose,” adds Halloran.
For architectural applications, window media installations often provide both purpose and appearance benefits.
“Window films define a space and improve privacy while allowing light to enter the office space and create brand awareness. Also, having both printable and non-printed materials present multiple options for window décor—either a printed or plotter cut design,” recommends Smith. She says typically, translucent window films are used to create private spaces, allowing light to enter creating a comfortable, well-lit open feeling.
The current demand for window graphics shifted towards print media applications focused on key COVID-19 messaging—safety guidelines, where to go, and hours of operation. “Ease of installation and removability of these window graphics has been an essential customer requirement,” she shares.
Mactac provides several options for window graphics from short-term to permanent solutions. For removable options, static window cling and M-Dot in white and clear with a removable dot adhesive pattern for easy application are offered.
It also provides air egress printable IMAGin Bfree window films in various finishes—frosted and dusted—with a permanent adhesive. “Our glass décor is another option for decorative window films requiring privacy and etched look. Our anti-graffiti films are optically clear engineered to protect your window from graffiti, scratches, gouges, and shattering,” shares Smith.
Corporate clients are interested in unique privacy and distraction films for interior glass. “Many office remodeling projects involve glass installations, which increases the need for glass films for hallways, offices, and conference rooms. Clients are looking for attractive patterns, gradients, and corporate branding, particularly using white ink to create custom designs,” offers Daly.
She points out that customers request products that provide ultimate design flexibility. Additional features come with tradeoffs. “For example, when printing white ink onto a glass film, features such as anti-scratch or anti-graffiti coatings can interfere with ink adhesion. For customers who are not printing, we continually add patterns and designs to our 3M Fasara line of glass finishes to provide the latest in design trends.”
Waters says most recently the trend is increased demand for safety and security films. “These can be in the form of clear films as well as solar control. Avery Dennison Solar Safety window film combines shard protection with solar control, delivering energy savings with glass safety. Avery Dennison also offers an anti-graffiti film that acts as a sacrificial window film for interior or exterior application.”
Halloran believes regulatory considerations are important. “Having to answer things like RoHS, REACH, and Prop 65, our customers increasingly require PVC-free options, which thankfully we provide. Additionally, we offer a new 80 percent recycled content optically clear polyester film for UV inkjet printing. The printable film is made from clear PET water bottles,” he explains.
“We are constantly looking for what we can add to the product line. Recently we added a satin anti-graffiti overlaminate. Thanks to anti-graffiti features, if spray painted, the paint can be removed with a plastic scraper with no water, soap, or chemicals. Additionally, when laminating over the color black, it does not turn gray but keeps the integrity of the dark colors.”
Black places a priority on solar control films, which he says are more popular than ever as home and business owners look for ways to save energy and make their living or work space more comfortable. “Window film improves the visibility of televisions and device screens by reducing glare and decreases the need for artificial lighting by allowing more natural light in.”
He says this trend of improving interior space while reducing energy consumption has given way to even higher quality window film products. “Manufacturers are stepping up their game and producing high-quality films that will often last as long as you own your home. Complete with scratch-resistant coatings and quality adhesive, window film improves the glass that surrounds you.”
On the Market
3M is dedicated to giving its customers a full portfolio of printable options to meet the need for attractive finishes.
Optically clear, translucent, opaque, decorative, or perforated, the company offers printable films for each situation. 3M Scotchcal Clear View Graphic Film IJ8150 is an optically clear printable film available in 60-inch widths that is compatible with all major print platforms. This gives customers design flexibility to create full window coverage, but does not interfere with transmission in unprinted areas.
Avery Dennison offers window products with durable scratch-resistant coatings in solar control, safety, and design and printable with adhesive that removes cleanly should it need to be removed. In addition, Avery Dennison offers a smart film technology called Vela Dynamic Display System, which is wet applied to existing windows providing privacy in its natural state of transparency with the flick of a switch.
Lintec’s products stand out in that they focus on producing scratch-resistant optically clear non-PVC films. Also, many of its opaque frosted and pattern films are based on polyester. The company recently added an 80 percent recycled content optically clear non-PVC film.
Lintec’s product lineup includes optically clear and scratch-resistant materials. “These can be printed via UV inkjet printing to make most any pattern desired. We also have fixed patterns in both PET and PVC. Most of our films are polyester and vary based on levels of opacity, pattern, or texture. This can range from a fine mist to a heavy frost or something imparted with a pattern such as rice paper. There are approximately 15 different opaque finishes,” explains Halloran.
Mactac’s window media products stand out due to its unique adhesive properties and/or adhesive pattern on the media. “This can determine how the media should be installed—wet or dry; who should apply it—print installer or retail associate; and how many times it can be applied—once or repositionable,” says Smith.
Madico offers a full portfolio of architectural window films. Each film offers a unique benefit whether it be high heat rejection, a metallized appearance, increased privacy, or a specific color or aesthetic.
Window function is amplified with media options that add beauty and custom messaging, but more importantly, safety, comfort, and privacy. Media manufacturers continue to invest in options that further enhance the office experience.
Jan2021, Digital Output