Security Films and Attachment Systems | How They Work
Glass is typically the weakest point of a buildings envelope, and for a long time, security film has been the answer in strengthening this weak point. Films as thick as 14 mil (a mil = one thousandth of an inch) with extremely high tear resistances bind to the glass and hold it in tact so that if the glass breaks or shatters, the film holds all the pieces together. This has many benefits; the glass, when broken, won’t fall to the floor in a million pieces. If a bomb goes off on the exterior of the building, the glass won’t fly into millions of pieces at hundreds of miles per hour causing mass injury and destruction. Someone attempting a break in/ forced entry won’t be easily able to break through the thick layer of film holding the glass together.
All of these benefits are enormously helpful when the goal is to protect valuables and occupants inside of a building, however, the film by itself isn’t quite enough. Window film by design can only be installed on the glass surface to within 1/16 of an inch of the window frame. This 1/16 inch is a relatively small gap, but it is still a weak point. By itself, this is considered safety glass. But with enough force from a bomb blast or a potential intruder, the glass, although being held intact by the window film, can be pushed through the frame. This is where the attachment system is critical.
An attachment system is designed to bind the film and the frame together, creating one piece with no weak points. They come in two forms and are chosen based on the type of frame the window has. The first type of attachment is a hard system which comes pre-formed from the manufacturer. It is referred to as Impact Protection Profile, or IPP, and it has an adhesive backed tape that sticks to the frame and film at a 45 degree angle. It is applied with a special tool made specifically for this type of system which ensures it is installed properly and sticks thoroughly. This type of system is the preferred type of installation for appearances and installers because it looks the most neat, and it is the easiest to apply. However, the down side to this system is that it requires the window to have a perpendicular metal/aluminum frame which is greater than or equal to 1 and 1/2 inches for it to be applied properly. But don’t worry if your window frame has less than 1 and 1/2 inches, there is a solution.
The second type of system is a wet glaze , caulk like material. It is referred to as Impact Protection Adhesive, and requires a minimum of 1/2 inch metal frame surface. This particular attachment is recommended for applications where the frame may not be exactly perpendicular to the glass, for instance a 45 degree angle away from glass. It is also more able to be worked to fit into tight spots where the IPP can not easily be installed. As stated, this material is a caulk like substance and is applied as such. Extreme caution on part of the installer (us) must be taken to ensure accurate molding of the substance, as well as cleanthliness. This material comes in two colors, either white or black. The down side to this material is that it is messy, and needs to be molded by the installer (us or our subcontractors), and any imperfections will be noticed. Imperfections typically include a wavyness look to the material. Of course we take all precautions to prevent this, but it is just how the material looks. Typically, it takes 4 hours for the surface to dry, and 48 hours to dry completely throughout.
The application of the security attachment system is critical if you are concerned about protection from intruders, bomb blasts, etc. Without it, your glass will be held together, but the glass and film can still be pushed through the frame easily. Below is a video showing the added benefit of having the film, compared to having the film and the attachment system.
It is very important to know that these security films and attachment systems ARE NOT BULLET PROOF! They are specifically designed to deter entry. They can be broken into, although it may take an intruder minutes to gain entry. The idea is that these minutes are crucial, giving occupants an opportunity to seek cover, allowing the building to lock down, and giving authorities time to respond to the situation. We are currently working on offering an application which is bullet proof, and we will be writing about this in the next blog post, so stay tuned!
Recently, we have installed security films and attachment systems in the Indian River School District, the New Castle County Government Building, and we will soon be installing security film on the Baltimore Police Department building in Pikesville, MD.
Any questions, concerns, remarks, or requests for free quotes are always welcome.. contact Corey, our Sales manager here at Professional Window Tinting at Corey@tintglass.com.