TECHNOLOGY PROFILE – WINDOW TREATMENTS
3M Sun Control window films can be applied to windows for safety, security and sun protection.
By SEAN O’KEEFE
LIFE ISN’T WITHOUT ITS CHALLENGES, and neither is being a homeowner. 3M wants to help. Operating from the intersection of science and innovation, 3M strives to improve people’s lives around the world through more than 60,000 different products in the fields of consumer goods, health care, industry and safety. Many of their innovations in adhesives, laminates, passive fire protection and specialized films are already intrinsically integrated into our lives yet are so virtually invisible that most people never know they are there. One such example, 3M Sun Control Window Film Prestige Series, is a remarkable line of window films that can be applied to windows in many homes or buildings for safety, security and sun protection while leaving the appearance of the window and space virtually unchanged.
“3M’s tag line is Science Applied to Life, and that is truly what we are all about,” says Mike Stavreff, an Application Engineering Specialist in 3M’s Commercial Solutions Division. Stavreff has been with 3M for 32 years and today leads a product development and application team. “3M Prestige Series is a great example of our ability to use technology to improve people’s lives. 3M window films are surface-applied to existing or new windows to improve comfort and safety in a variety of ways.”
In many climates, direct sunlight streaming through a window can create excessive heat, uncomfortable hot spots and disturbing glares. In both residential and commercial settings, these issues impact energy costs, user comfort and ultimately both the enjoyability and affordability of any space affected by them. 3M’s spectrally selective Prestige Series films are designed to reflect the sun’s infrared light, reducing the heat coming through the window by up to 60 percent.
“The Prestige Series is an adhesive-coated polyester film of more than 200 layers with a durable hard coat on top that allows for cleaning,” shares Stavreff. “The layers within the film block harmful light by reflecting it out rather than absorbing it as many other window films do. Not only does this help with thermal comfort and glare, but it also slows the rate of fading of carpets and furniture.”
Application Engineering Specialist,
3M Commercial Solutions Division
Prestige Series window films do not contain metal, meaning they will not corrode over time or interfere with wireless and cellular signals that people depend on every day in their homes and offices. These films are professionally installed by local 3M Authorized Window Film Dealers and can be applied to windows, skylights, atriums, conservatory roofs, or other glazed surfaces and can become carbon negative in as little as six months from installation.
Depending on age and construction methodologies, in many older homes replacing windows could require custom glass, making it both expensive and time-consuming. Such was the case for a 130-year-old Italianate home built in Hudson, Wisconsin. When a natural light photographer and her husband purchased the home in 2013, they knew they needed to update it for energy efficiency. The house’s many glass windows presented a potentially complicated problem. In addition to the desire to reduce energy loss due to the age of the single pane glass windows throughout the home, the owners also had concerns about a large glass door on the back of the home and a bathroom window that didn’t offer adequate privacy.
The local 3M dealer recommended a combination of three different films for a comprehensive solution. 3M Sun Control Window Film Prestige Series was used on the upper-level windows to bounce harmful energy away from the home.
3M FASARA™ Glass Finishes was used to add opacity to the bathroom window for privacy. Finally, for security, 3M Scotchshield™ Safety & Security Window Film Ultra Series was used with 3M Impact Protection Profile Attachment System on the back door. Within the security film, layers of tear-resistant polyester help hold the glass together in the case of breakage, accidental or intentional. The extra layers within the film make it difficult to pass through the broken window and the impact protection attachment system is designed to hold the broken glass in the frame to deter individuals from entering.
“Rigorous research and development, a cross-section of technologies, and extensive testing go into everything we make,” continues Stavreff in consideration of the 3M’s product development process. Internally, 3M maintains a periodic table of technologies, which identifies specific expertise in technologies, materials or technical concepts for each type of material they work with. “We find that there are a lot of possibilities for cross-overs between technologies. Being able to tap into many different layers of scientific understanding is where 3M is truly exceptional. Interestingly, in the case of these window films, initially, the basis of this technology was being used to improve laptop displays. When we considered the film’s capacity to block harmful IR rays, applying it to windows made a lot of sense.”
3M Sun Control Prestige Series is not used exclusively on single-family homes. Commercial property owners and multifamily condominium owners can also realize energy savings and improved use of space through these films. An owner of a condominium property on the 19th floor of a high-rise building in Minneapolis, Minnesota realized shortly after purchasing her new home that the near-constant glare from sunlight severely degraded the experience of her space. While many of the condominium’s large south-facing windows enjoy spectacular views of the City’s popular Lake Bde Maka Ska, they were also an immediate access point for the sun’s intense heat and ultraviolet rays. In only a few hours of work, the local 3M dealer had installed the new films on the condominium windows and the homeowner was enjoying the benefits of significantly less heat gain and reduced glare the same day.
“3M is basic in adhesives, films, coatings and the application of science to many of life’s everyday challenges,” finishes Stavreff. “We have all of the technology and knowledge in-house. When we put our name on something, customers can be sure that we stand behind both the product and science within it.”