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Invisible Protection: XPEL’s polyurethane film Photo Gallery
Barry Kluczyk –
Nov 23, 2016
Photo 1/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane
Photo 2/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 02 | Rather than stocking rolls of vehicle-specific film kits, the installer pulls up the vehicle—a 2014 Ram 1500 in our case—on an XPEL database that shows the patterns and dimensions for the multiple pieces that compose the kit.
Photo 3/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 03 | After loading a sheet of the protective film, the patterns are plotted and cut on a custom tool. The method reduces waste and eliminates the need to stock multiple kits, particularly because the range of protection choices varies significantly. This method ensures each kit is cut to demand.
Photo 4/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 04 | After the patterns are cut into the film, the individual elements of the kit are pulled back to prevent them from “healing” back into a single sheet again. We used XPEL Ultimate material for this project. It’s a clear urethane film, but there are also films for satin paint wraps and thicker, heavier-duty films for off-roading and commercial applications.
Photo 5/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 05 | While the film was being cut and prepared, the truck itself was also prepared. A clean, smooth and blemish-free surface is essential for the best result. In this case, the front of the Ram was even buffed after washing to ensure the smoothest surface.
Photo 6/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 06 | Next, the film was rolled onto a wet sheet of glass in preparation for the installers at Motor City AutoSpa to pull off each of approximately a dozen individual pieces of the kit for Ram project vehicle as needed.
Photo 7/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 07 | The installation begins with the headlamps lenses, which are sprayed with a lubricating application gel to make the film easier to position.
Photo 8/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 08 | The perfectly trimmed film lays on the application gel much like installing an adhesive graphic. And while the gel allows the film to float momentarily, it adheres pretty quickly. An alcohol solution is also used to extend the mobility of the film.
Photo 9/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 09 | Finally, a squeegee is used to affix the film in its final position. It’s a little trickier than it appears, because there are virtually no totally flat surfaces on today’s vehicles, meaning it’s a slow, methodical process to avoid wrinkles on compound curves and corners.
Photo 10/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 10 | Next up is the piece that covers the front edge of the hood, extending back about 4 inches from the hood’s edge. XPEL offers total hood coverage, but the contours and vents on the custom aftermarket hood on Murray Pfaff’s Ram wasn’t in the pattern database, so the decision was made to go with the front-edge wrap.
Photo 11/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 11 | The three-dimensional contours of the hood require the film to stretch to conform to them. It takes finesse and experience to lay the film precisely, especially because it really looks at first as if there’s no way it will fit.
Photo 12/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 12 | The grille surround is covered next. The film is removable from factory paint jobs, should the need ever arise. The film’s urethane core is 6 mils (0.15mm) thick and covered by 0.5-mil (0.01mm) clearcoat. The acrylic adhesive layer is a mere 1.6 mils (0.04mm) thick.
Photo 13/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 13 | The multiple planes on the grille bars and grille surround took patience and time when fitting the film. A cloth was sometimes used over the squeegee to provide a softer, smoother touch when pressing the film into place.
Photo 14/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 14 | The largest piece of the installation was the wrap for the front bumper cover. In addition to its size, multiple contours made it difficult to line up before squeegeeing it into place. The film indeed stretches to fit the contours, but nothing like a heat gun is used to shrink it into place. It’s all about the finessing into place without wrinkles or bubbles.
Photo 15/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 15 | Some elements required trimming, such as around the custom air inlets on top of the bumper cover. A steady hand with a blade is all it took to modify the “stock” film pattern.
Photo 16/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 16 | The final elements wrapped around the bottom of the bumper cover, but the sharp contours made them just as tricky to install as the other pieces. They were stretched and plied into place, completing an installation process that took about three and a half hours from the moment the patterns were cut out.
Photo 17/17 | Xpel Film Polyurethane 17 | It’s basically impossible to tell the front of Murray Pfaff’s Draggin’ Wagon has been fitted with the XPEL film. It carries a 10-year warranty against cracking or yellowing and even provides some dent resistance. It’s almost too bad such an investment is virtually invisible.