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When you produce or ship products with surfaces that are easily scratched, chipped or otherwise marred, what can you do to keep those items safe in production, transit or handling? Packing them safely is a good start, and issuing careful handling instructions may help, but you can also take a direct hand in protecting your surfaces: you can ensure they’re covered with protective film or tape.
When you’re dealing with smooth and glossy surfaces like glass, bare metal, certain plastics and glassy laminates, protective film is the last line of defense between your products and the hazards of the outside world. This film can keep dirt, paint and other forms of contamination such as scratches and dings from affecting surfaces, preventing costly returns and helping the items get to their destinations, clean and blemish-free.
What is surface protection film?
Surface protection film is a thin, self-adhesive covering that comes in a variety of colors and performance capabilities. Its purpose is always roughly the same — to protect surfaces from any harm that may befall them, typically including dirt, scratches and contaminants like paint.
Surface protection film is temporary, with a high-tack adhesive on one side. That means once the protected item reaches its destination, the film is peeled away, leaving no traces or sticky residue. Protective film may be in place while an object is transported from a factory to a job site for example, or while that item is left in storage awaiting use.
Manufacturers can even apply protective film during the production process to ensure that vulnerable surfaces don’t pick up dirt, scratches or other imperfections as they move along the assembly line.
The exact type of surface protection film used in a particular job will depend on the kind of substrate that needs defending. LAMATEK offers customized films based on your application, however, some of the primary protective films include:
- PROTEK™ Black & White Film: This 2.8mil thick, opaque film has a rubber-based adhesive and is suitable for use on architectural metals, stainless steel, decorative laminates, plastics, PVC and aluminum profiles, as well as pre-coated metals and skin plates. It is best suited for outdoor applications and its UV protection lasts up to 6 months.
- PROTEK™ Blue Film: This film is translucent and thinner than the black and white film at 2mil, and is meant for both indoor and outdoor use. It uses an acrylic adhesive and its UV protection lasts up to 2 months. Good substrate matches for blue film include bare and anodized aluminum, pre-coated metals and decorative laminates.
- PROTEK™ Clear Film: The transparent clear film option is variable in thickness, ranging from 2-4mil. It uses an acrylic adhesive, is suitable for use indoors and outdoors and offers up to 6 months of UV protection. It is most suitable for use with bare and anodized aluminum, pre-coated metals, painted aluminum profiles and glass.
It should be noted that there are some substrates that are simply not suitable for these types of protective film. Most prominently, these include brass, copper and copper alloys.
Matching the right type of film to a surface may require a hands-on trial and is strongly recommended. Fortunately, by contacting LAMATEK or requesting a sample, your company can work through this selection process quickly and painlessly.
Companies of all kinds may benefit from defending their most vulnerable substrates through careful application of adhesive protective film — it’s better to take this step in advance than deal with surface contamination or damages later.
Where protective film can help
Any kind of item that needs protection from dirt, oil, paint, debris and incidental scratching is a good candidate for protective film during its manufacturing, assembly, storage and shipping. As soon as it’s time to put the substrate into use — for instance, installing a new window or appliance in a house under construction — the film peels away, leaving no trace.
Specific uses for protective film include:
- Protecting panes of glass, mirrors, doors, windows and profiles during production and shipping to construction sites, guarding against dirt and damage that may occur in transit or during installation.
- Preserving the surface of appliances as they’re shipped from factories to showrooms, homes or businesses, as well as keeping them clean and undamaged in storage.
- Keeping ducts and other HVAC equipment clean and clear of debris during production, shipping and installation.
- Preventing UV rays from damaging materials stored outside, including decking, cladding and more — depending on the film’s composition, surface protection film can deliver up to 6 months of UV defense.
- Ensuring dust and dirt stay off of items, even when they are manufactured, stored or shipped in dust-intensive conditions, such as factories where items are being sawed.
- … and any other scenario where a substrate may be exposed to dirt, dust, paint or scratches.
Benefits of protective film
Applying protective film to a surface when the substrate is clean and free of dust, dirt, oil and damage helps keep the item in that state, even if environmental conditions threaten to cause harm. This may mean applying film to keep UV rays from discoloring plastic stored outside, or using clear surface protection film to ensure appliances reach buyers in perfect condition.
The cost-effectiveness of protective film comes from the fact that a dirty or otherwise damaged item may need expensive repairs or replacements, raising headaches for manufacturers, shippers, installers or all of the above. The investment in buying and applying surface protection film is a form of insurance against the eventual costs of damage.
The actual application of surface protection film is quick and easy and can be carried out by hand — just unroll the film from a custom-width roll and smooth it onto the substrate.
Find your solution with surface protection film today
The benefits of getting substrates to their destination clean and unmarred by surface damage are numerous. With that said, each item will have its own unique requirements for surface protection film.
Choosing the right variety of PROTEK™ film and determining the appropriate width of film or tape for your application will leave you with a surface protection method that fits perfectly into your production, shipping or installation workflow. Talk to LAMATEK today to lock down your ideal solution.