Technical Data


The first patent for solar control film was registered by the 3M Corporation in 1966. It’s original design objective was to control heating and cooling imbalances, which resulted from solar loading. The early films were found to reflect solar radiation back from a window surface, while still allowing vision through the glass.

Years of testing, refinement, and more testing have progressed and developed these products to include the vast range that is now available worldwide. Originally, all films were silver and reflective in appearance. Changes in manufacturing processes, and substrates used allowed the heat rejection properties to be enhanced, while eliminating the silver film appearance. Terms like ‘metallised’ and ‘sputtered metal’ are used regularly to describe films. This refers to some of the processes used to manufacture the window films.



These film contain no metals and are considered to be non reflective. They provide some glare and fade control, along with some element of heat control by way of solar absorption. Absorption of heat is far less effective than reflectance. These films are highly prone to losing their colour by way of fading, or turning purple.
(Ultratint does not recommend, nor use dyed polyester window films.)


Metallising (also referred to as vacuum coating) allows a metal (usually aluminium or a composite of alloys) to be applied as a layer or coating to a clear polyester film, before being laminated with another polyester layer. Since this process can be accurately controlled, films can be made with varying levels of light transmittance. They still however need to add a dye, or pigment to the adhesive to reduce any sheen or reflectivity, making them also susceptible to fading over time.


The sputtering process requires a large vacuum chamber to be filled with an inert gas as well as electrical energy. This energy creates a negative charge in the gas molecules which are allowed to move around freely within the low pressure vacuum of the chamber at high velocity. The metal that is to be applied to the polyester film, (or cathode) is struck by these particles releasing atoms of the metal also at high velocity. these eventually strike the film substrate creating a thin layer of metallic oxide. Sputtered films have excellent solar control properties.


A common practice with today’s new cars is to mount the radio antenna in the rear glass. Use of a metallised film on this type of vehicle often results in the loss or partial loss of radio reception. 3M have since developed a new method of manufacturing film that replaces the metal content with carbon nano-particles, thus eliminating the radio interference that is seen with metal films. Other inherent benefits of carbon films include guaranteed colour stability, (carbon will not break down when exposed to UV light) and a true black finish to the glass without any reflection, or sheen. The other major benefit of carbon based films, is zero interference with remote locking and immobiliser transponders, and also mobile phone data reception. One of the biggest differences with 3M Carbon Stable series window film, is that instead of simple carbon deposition onto the face of the film, the carbon nano particles are embedded into the base polyester before it is extruded out into a flat film. This gives a far greater tolerance to fading or colour losses. As always, the devil really is in the details.


These films go through the same metal deposition process known as sputtering, but are then put through a secondary de-metallisation process, creating a ‘metal-oxide’ or ceramic based material. The concept behind this technology was to retain most of the heat rejection properties found in sputtered metal films, without the electromagnetic interference that causes a loss of radio and other signal strengths. Most window film installers don’t even know how ceramic based films are manufactured, so go ahead and test their knowledge if you get the chance. Some of the explanations can be quite entertaining! On the serious side; these films can prove to be a bit “hit and miss” depending on the film manufacturer, and our recommendation is to do your own independent testing of the products performance, rather than believe what the brochure, or installer tells you.


Multilayer optical film technology combines up to 200 or more layers in a film that is thinner than a Post-it Note. This unique technology is the reason these almost clear films can reject far more heat than much darker films. See our page on 3M Crystalline films for a more detailed explanation.


Automotive Films use a Pressure Sensitive (PS) adhesive system that allows it to bond correctly on curved automotive glass. This adhesive will dry clear and completely distortion free when installed correctly. The adhesive is applied to the back of the film during the manufacturing process, and when applied by the technician, little more than a correct mix of mounting solution and filtered water is required. This allows installation without risk of damage to vehicle interior trims, or carpets.


With current technology already being used in high quality window films, it is now possible to apply solar control films to even the most curved of automotive glass in one piece. The methods of relief cutting (or splicing) compared to today’s modern techniques are antiquated and sub-standard. Heat Moulding Technology refers to the films ability to be shrunk during the application of heat to allow the film to conform to the shape of the window to which it is to be applied. Any window tinter who calls himself a professional will be able and willing to install all window films, on all glass, in one piece.


Window tinting is created when solar film is bonded onto a piece of window glass. Tinting film is usually made from clear polyester film with a very thin and even layer of tinting agents such as carbon and/or metals deposited onto the film. A common misconception is that window tinting is very dark. The truth is that there are many window tinting films in various shades to suit your preferences. Also, unlike sunglasses that do impair your ability to drive at night, tinting film is designed to reduce glare and not impede night-time driving. State window tint laws also protect consumers against illegal tint that may put them in harm’s way during night-time driving. Another misconception is that window tinting is bonded onto the outer surface of auto glass. Window films are applied on the inner surface which also protects the film itself from flying debris outside the car. Tinting film doesn’t just block visible light. It also blocks harmful cancer-causing ultra-violet (UV-A and UV-B) rays as well as infra-red (IR) rays that cause heat to build up in your car; however, how effective a film is in blocking these rays depends on the type of film, the manufacturer, and the quality of installation…. That’s where Ultratint can help!

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