by Holger Geiser, Spandex Group Building Window Films specialist
Safety and Security Window films may seem like a niche market at first glance, but they can actually be an accessible way to grow your business. If you have experience of installing self-adhesive window films such as shop fronts, vehicles and signage, then Building Window Films (BWF) are just an extra area you can cover.
I’ve already talked about the opportunity in sun protection films, but another lucrative market is in the application of safety and security self-adhesive glass films.
Let’s look at safety films first.
What are Safety Window Films?
Simply put, clear safety window films protect the occupants of a building from injuries caused by breaking glass. For example, if someone were to fall into a pane of glass. The film acts as a laminate, making the glass shatter-proof, preserving the integrity of the glass pane and holding the broken shards together. This prevents cuts and lacerations and hence injury to occupants.
The films are applicable in any building with a normal glazing system consisting of float glass. Particularly schools, kindergartens, universities and public buildings.
Certification and Application
In Europe, health and safety legislation requires glass in buildings to conform to European Standard EN12600 – Resistance against human Impact. Laminated glass is tested against this norm, but regular ‘float glass’ can only comply with the standard if it’s upgraded with a proper safety film installation.
This opens a large opportunity for safety film installers.
The window film itself must be tested and certified by an independent, accredited public institute, and films fall into two categories: Standard Class 2B2 and Higher Class 1B1. These relate to the thickness and resilience of the film, which ranges from 100 to 240 microns, depending on the product and classification.
Another thing to be aware of: for safety films to conform to the required standard, they need to be edge bonded to the window frame. You can achieve this by installing the film under the gaskets, for example with aluminium or plastic frames. If you are working with a wooden frame, you can apply a 6 to 8mm silicone seam. In this case, the silicone must be neutrally cross-linked and compatible with window films.
And now to our second category: Security Building Window Films.
What are Security Building Window Films?
These are used to protect buildings against aggressive attack or forced entry, and to prevent damage from vandalism.
Security (as opposed to safety) indicates a high protection level, so the films will average 300 microns, two to three time the thickness of safety films. Security BWFs don’t only prevent injury. They minimise the potential for aggressive attacks or smash-and-grab type burglaries through glazing systems – the most vulnerable point of a building.
You can imagine the range of buildings that can benefit from additional protection. From shops & banks to corporate, residential, religious and industrial buildings. As well as high-security spaces used by military, government, NGOs, international institutions and security forces.
Certification and Application
In Europe, these applications need to meet EN 356, the European Standard for Glass in Building, Security Glazing: Testing and Classification of Resistance Against Manual Attack.
Regardless of brand, the security films sold by Spandex are independently tested and certified according to EN 356, class P2A. Which means they are developed to withstand a ‘hard body drop test.’ This uses a 4.11kg steel sphere, dropped from a height of three metres to replicate the impact of an attack using a blunt instrument.
Security films, by definition, are installed on the interior surface of the glass. Like safety films, they must be edge bonded to conform to the required standard, whether by installation under the gaskets or using an 8 to 10mm silicone seal for the edge bonding to wooden window frames. Again, using neutrally cross-linked and window film compliant silicone.
A growing market
You now see the benefit of both of these window films. In Central Europe alone, BWF sales are growing by 11-16% each year, as end-customer demand increases. Definitely a market worth breaking into.
How Spandex can help
At Spandex, we hold a broad BWF portfolio from leading brands like Avery Dennison, ImagePerfect™ and 3M that comply with all standards.
All of our safety and security window films are produced to the highest product quality level and provide excellent optical transparency qualities. Plus, they have scratch resistant and strong hard coats, which make them easy-to-clean and maintain. Depending on conditions, they could last for up to 20 years.
We have options for internal and external application, and some safety films also offer sun and climate control properties – covering all your clients’ needs.
Not sure which film to choose?
Our customer engagement team and sales specialists can give you expert advice regarding the specific setting you are working in and the glass surface in question.
Author – Holger Geiser
Holger Geiser has 30 years’ experience in Window Films, which he uses to help Spandex customers take advantage of the growth opportunities with Sun Protection and Functional films. Holger offers sign makers, graphics producers and installers a deep understanding of these speciality products and their applications, supporting visual communications businesses to develop additional revenue streams in the architectural and building window markets.