• How It’s Made – Installation Tools

    I thought I would change things up a bit for this week’s post and take all of you inside the process of making an installation tool. After speaking with many of you about tools, I realized that most of you were not familiar with how the majority of these items are made. So, come along with me on my visit to Pro Tools Now to see how some of our industries favorite tools are created.
    The first step in creating a tool is designing the item on a computer. While many tools used for installation in our industry were originally designed for other uses, the tools we are looking at today were developed with the installer in mind. Most of these tools start with an idea to solve a particular installation dilemma. Designs on a computer are created after speaking with installers about what might work. After that, a small run of prototype tools might be created using a 3D printer or other technologies. Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 3.12.47 PM While these prototypes will not reflect the actual feel of a given tool, they will be correct with regard to shape and size. These prototypes allow feedback to be gathered from installers as to whether a given design will fill a need. If the feedback results in changes needing to be made, that can be done quickly and another batch of prototypes created for review. pfpic1rightThe second involves taking the approved design and creating a mold to be used in the manufacturing of the tool. The mold is metal and specifically designed for use on a plastic injection molding machine. The molds are particular for each distinct tool-shaped cavities inside and will usually allow four to six tools to be made at one time. It is critical that the prototype used to design the mold is right as each individual mold can cost as much as $25,000 to make. If there is a flaw in the design, the mold is useless and you must start over again. Obviously something you do not want to happen! pfpic2leftThe next step is to determine the physical make-up of the tool you are trying to produce. Does the tool need to be stiff or flexible? Should the material be grippy or slick? What is the target price for the finished product? What color is the final product going to be? All of these things and more go into deciding what type of plastic pellets will be used in the “recipe” for a particular tool. The pellets come in all varieties and different types are mixed together in a funnel-shaped hopper (shown in picture below) to create the desired characteristics of the tool being manufactured. If you get this mix wrong, the tool will not perform the way it was intended and you will have manufactured a bunch of useless stock. pfpic3rightNow, we are ready to start making some tools! The machines used in this process are large and contain the hopper at one end to load the pellet “recipe” into and the mold at the other to create the tools. As the pellets leave the hopper, they are fed into the machine where they are heated to form a liquid. Once the pellet mixture is at the right temperature, it is forced down a tube and injected into the tool-shaped cavities in the mold. Once the tool cavities are filled, the pellet mixture is allowed to cool and harden into final tool shape. After cooling, the tools are taken out of the mold and they have any mold imperfections or injection points cleaned up to create the finished product. pfpic4leftFinally, the tools go through quality control to verify consistency with the design parameters set forth. After that, you have a finished tool that is ready to make its way into an installer’s tool pouch. It always amazes me that after all these steps that the finished product often times can cost as little as $1! I hope that this story was entertaining, informative and makes you think about all that was involved in bringing you that tool in your pouch.

  • Installation Blade Tech Talk

    I want to talk about something that every installer uses each day whether they are installing window film, paint protection film, vinyl graphics or wrapping a car with vinyl. What I want to talk about are the blades we use in our knives. Commonly referred to as 13 point blades because they are scored in 13 sections to allow the blade to be snapped off, these blades come in many varieties from companies like Olfa, NT Cutter and KDS. We get many questions about the differences in the blades, so I wanted to share a bit of technical data regarding blade construction and what it means for you. The Hone of the Blade First, you may have heard of a blade being single-honed or double-honed. What does that mean? Let’s discuss what the “hone” of the blade is and how that affects how the blade functions. Single Hone The hone on the blade determines 70 percent of its sharpness. A scalpel has a single hone on both sides of the blade that forms a “V” at the tip. A single hone blade is designed to be sharp, but it is only good at cutting through soft matter. When a single-hone blade encounters something hard, the edge of the blade will tend to roll over or chip (See diagram). patric1Double Hone In an effort to correct the chipping and roll over tendency of a single honed blade, and to make the edge more durable, some manufacturers add a second hone (See diagram). This second hone, to be frank, makes the blade duller. But this dullness actually acts to make the blade “last” longer as the edge is stronger with the double hone. Double-honed blades don’t so much cut materials, but push them apart.


    So, an installer really needs to determine what is most important. Would you rather sacrifice a degree of blade sharpness for more durability and cutting between blade snaps? Do you want blades that are extremely sharp right out of the box even if that means that you must snap off the blade more often? As is the case with many tools used in our industry, it comes down to the personal preference of each individual installer. Stainless or Carbon? Now comes the selection of whether to go with a stainless or carbon blade for your application. Let me begin by saying that typically carbon blades will be harder and more durable than a stainless blade. Many believe that carbon blades are also sharper than stainless blades, but that is typically a result of a carbon blade being able to be honed to a much sharper edge than a stainless blade. The hardness of a carbon blade allows this finer sharper hone to be used while still retaining good durability. So, what blade should you use? That depends completely on application. Let’s take a look at the options. Window Film Installations When installing window film, anywhere trimming of the film will be done on the glass, you should ONLY use stainless blades! The added hardness and sharpness of a typical carbon blade will enable the blade to actually cut the top surface of the glass. This cutting of the glass will appear as slight scratches wherever you cut with the blade and leave you with a very angry customer. http://www.windowfilmmag.com/wp-content/uploads//2014/02/patric3.jpg All stainless blades should have “stainless” stamped on the blade near the blade retention hole as seen in the picture. If you do not see this stamp, you should assume that the blade is carbon and not use it for any window film application that involves trimming on the glass. Please be careful to check any blades that a pre-installed in a knife that you buy. Many of these knives come with carbon blades installed at the factory and they will need to be changed out before you get started. Not checking the blades in a new knife has led to more than one window needing to be replaced by an unsuspecting installer. Don’t be the next to make this easy-to-avoid mistake! Paint Protection Film / Vinyl Graphics / Vehicle Wrap Installations Because these applications do not require any cutting to be done on the glass, typically carbon blades are used. The reason that using carbon blades for these installations vs. stainless is two-fold. First, the paint protection films and vinyl tend to be thicker than window film, so the sharper edges found on carbon blades make for easier cutting of these materials. Second, the hardness of the carbon blade allows the blades to be much more durable than a stainless counterpart which means much less snapping of the blade. I think that it should go without saying, but please do not use any of the blades mentioned to cut vinyl or paint protection on the surface of a car. Although some claim to have the skill necessary to do this without cutting or scratching the vehicles paint, I have seen my fair share of damaged paint as a result of this practice and I strongly discourage it. I hope that this article gives you some basic knowledge of the blades utilized within our industry and why you might choose one over another. As with any job, equipping yourself with the proper tool for the job gives you a head start on a successful outcome. Click HERE to watch a video with more information about blades.

  • Research Shows Window Film Market to Nearly Double in the Next 3 Years

    Opportunities and Challenges for Solar Control Films

    June 9, 2014 | State of the Market Report | LuxResearch Despite Adoption Challenges, Solar Control Films Will Be a $863 Million Market by 2018.


    Managing solar heat gain, light transmission, and glare have become critical pain points, as the use of architectural glass has grown globally and the pressure from building codes and standards to manage heat gain have risen. Compared to competing technologies such as switchable glazings, aerogel glazings, and daylighting skylights, after-market solar control films offer a low-cost, short-payback-period technology that can address the much larger retrofit market. Despite this promise, there are significant specific concerns to overcome, particularly perceptions of thermal stress build-up and inertia induced by specified incumbent technologies like low-emissivity glass and external shading. Even with these adoption challenges, energy security and regulatory drivers will propel the market from today’s $450 million to $863 million by 2018. The factors driving adoption across the globe vary by geography. While Europe continues along a path of relative macroeconomic paralysis, near Net Zero Energy Building (nNZEB) mandates keep the demand for solar control films constant. In contrast, Asia-Pacific grows at 20% per year driven by the adoption of Passive House in Korea and China. Falling in the middle of these growth extremes, the east and west coasts of the U.S. drive the market due to strong city- and state-level policy support. For solar control film adoption to proliferate, the decision-makers in the value chain need to be identified and the perspectives of early adopters, early resistors, and the as-yet unaware or ill-informed need to be taken into consideration. There is greater familiarity with incumbent technologies that must be combated, requiring demonstration of the upside to hurdle adoption barriers. Warranty issues arise from residential window manufacturers requiring development of relationships with glazing OEMs to mitigate barriers, and with ESCOs such as Siemens and property management firms like Jones Lang Lasalle and CBRE to create pull. Finally, building energy simulations from the likes of Sefaira can provide granular energy assessment and payback estimates. Of course, from a value proposition perspective there is much that can be done by incumbents and new entrants alike beyond managing inertia- and perception-based issues. Improving durability of existing solutions and developing tools for predicting project-specific energy savings represent concrete steps to accelerate market growth and grow market share for current value-chain participants. Data on thermal stress build-up in assemblies, including failure modes such as seal breakage, will allow better warranty longevity. Also related to durability, marketing films with a lower coefficient of thermal expansion, such as biaxially-oriented polyesters, will open up further paths to adoption. Despite a relatively aggregated market, there are technology-driven paths for prospective new entrants in the space. Waterborne ceramic oxide coatings, such as those offered by Advenira Coatings, offer an entry point for polyolefin film manufacturers into the solar control films market, a space previously limited to polyesters, polycarbonates, and fluoropolymers. Polyolefins and acrylics can also be positioned as low-cost alternatives to polyester substrates, particularly in emerging economies. In reality, solar control films offer a path to growth for all participants in the value chain, through improved energy efficiency with relatively short payback periods at one end, to penetration for all-too-familiar materials for which new markets are few and far between at the front end.

    Lead Analyst

    Aditya Ranade, Ph.D., M.B.A.
    Senior Analyst
    +1 (857) 284-5689

  • Why Do Dyed Window Films Turn Purple?

    Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 2.12.12 PM Almost everyone, whether in our industry or not, has seen window film that has turned purple from exposure to the sun. Unfortunately, often this is the first thing that comes to mind for many people outside of our industry when they think about window films. However, many people, even many in our industry, do not know is why a window film turns purple. This week I plan to discuss the factors at work that cause dyed films to turn purple and some of the manufacturing strategies used to address this problem. In an effort to keep this article simplified, the following will only address basic dyed window films offered by most manufacturers as an entry level automotive film. First, let’s discuss what is happening that changes the film to a purple color. For this, I am going to need all of you to think back to when we all learned about primary colors and the color spectrum in grade school. The three primary colors are red, blue and yellow. All colors in the spectrum come from a combination of these three colors. A complete absence of any primary color will give you absolute white, and a combination of equal parts all three primary colors will give you absolute black. As you can see in the picture, purple is primarily a combination of the red and blue primary colors.Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 2.13.25 PMAs mentioned above, all colors are derived from a mixture of the three primary colors. The window film you use, whether it is smoke, charcoal, neutral, etc., has the color derived from a mixture of these three primary colored dyes. While all three of the primary colors are susceptible to fading from the sun, yellow typically will fade at a faster rate than blue or red. So, if you are following along, you can guess what happens next. As the film is exposed to sun and the yellow dyes fade out at a faster rate than the other primary colors, the mixture of the colors becomes primarily red and blue. As this occurs, the film begins looking more purple as you would expect from a mixture of primarily red and blue dyes. It is important to note that ALL dyed window films will fade over time. While I realize that some films are warranted against color change and fading, there is simply no way to completely stop the fading process in a dyed film. Now that we understand what is occurring to change a film to purple, let’s look at some manufacturing processes that can slow down or address the effects of this fading. The first thing that can be done to give a dyed film better longevity is the use of UV absorbers in the construction of the film. UV absorbers will absorb the damaging UV rays and dissipate them in the form of heat. UV absorbers can be added to the adhesive layer, the core polyester film or a combination of both. The higher the quality and concentration of UV absorbers used in a film, the more protection that the dyes have against the UV exposure. The more protection the dyes have against the UV exposure, the better the resistance to fading and color change the film will have. The second thing that can be done to offset the effects of this fading is the specification of a particular mix of dyes designed to fade uniformly so that the film will “Fade on Color”. In order to keep a film form turning purple, you need to keep the yellow dye from fading out faster than the red and blue. So, care is taken to select a set of red, blue and yellow dyes that are matched for susceptibility to fading so that they will all fade at the same rate.   Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 2.17.25 PM The benefit of designing a film that fades on color is that while the film will still fade over time, it will retain it’s original color. So, your 35% film may look like a 45% film after a period of time, but it will still retain the original film color instead of turning purple. You can often see the effects of this when you look at older film that has a top edge that went inside the window frame or was protected by a sun visor as shown in this picture. The portion of the film that was protected by the window frame or the visor retains the original darkness, while the exposed film has faded to a lighter shade of the same color. This article was not meant to go into deep detail about all the things that can play a part in film construction and fade resistance. Use of metalized layers, pigments, etc. in a film’s construction can all have an impact on how a film reacts to the effects of exposure to the sun over time. However, I hope this article gives you a basic understanding of the fading process that occurs with dyed window films and why some films may react differently than others. I would be happy to answer any clarifying questions you might have in the comments area below.

  • Interwest Tools Wants to Connect With You!

    social-media-panel Industry Professionals, The team at Interwest Tools wants to thank all of you that have been ordering from us. The response has been awesome and we truly appreciate your business! Interwest Tools is your premier source for window film, paint protection film, vinyl graphic and vehicle wrap installation tools. Since we are doing business with so many of you, we wanted to connect with you on social media. Interwest Tools is currently on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and  YouTube. You can check out our pages at the links below. We look forward to connecting with you online and sharing all of the exciting things that we have going on over here at Interwest Tools! Wishing you the very best as the 2014 selling season gets into full swing! Best Regards, Interwest Tools Team

  • The Window Tint Dot Matrix Dilemma

    Dot Matrix Dilemma

    Anyone that has installed window film on a car is familiar with the dilemma of how to get the dot matrix areas to look good and consistent. Installers have tried everything from sanding the matrix to using glue sticks to combat the issue. Some have given up completely and just install solid black vinyl over the matrix area and but seam the window film to the vinyl. Why is this issue so difficult to overcome? Well, with the exception of installing vinyl, one strategy will not work for all situations. In an effort to add some clarity to this issue, I wanted to detail out the various issues with dot matrix and the primary ways that installers are currently addressing the dot matrix dilemma. To begin with, there are two main issues that installers deal with regarding dot matrix during a window film installation. The first is getting window film to stick properly in the matrix area. Often the film will want to peel back and not want to stick in this area. After discussing this with people in the glass industry, this issue stems from the fact that many of the materials that matrix is comprised of are designed to be resistant to things adhering to them. As a result, we are fighting the natural tendency of the material by trying to adhere something to it. As an illustration, think of trying to get things to stick to the inside of a Teflon coated pan. try as you might, things just do not want to adhere. The second issue is that the installer can get the film to adhere to the dots, but the film appears to have a "silvering" in the matrix area when viewed from the outside. (See Picture) To make matters worse, this "silvering is often not uniform or consistent across the window drawing even more attention to this problem. So, what can we do to combat these issues. Let's tackle the first issue of the film not wanting to adhere to the matrix. The most common strategy for this is to use something to scuff the surface of the matrix area knocking off the top coat and creating a rougher surface that the film has an easier time adhering to. This method is often used in combination with a adhesive promoting solution. The idea is to make the material more conducive to the film adhering and then giving the adhesive the added boost of an adhesion promoter. This tends to work well at getting the film to stick to the glass, but the issue of "silvering" might still be present. What causes the silvering? The basic explanation is that the profile of the dots serve to keep the film floating above the actual surface of the glass. The dots are spaced too closely together and the film rides on the top of the dots unable to deflect into the valleys between the dots to stick to the actual glass. The resulting gap between the glass and the film in these areas is what you are seeing when "silvering" is present. You may notice that as the film cures that you can push down in these areas and reduce or eliminate the silvering. This is because once the mounting solution is completely dried out you can often push the film into these valleys and get it to stick to the glass. Often, even you are successful getting this to occur, the "silvering" will return to these areas again as the film cannot maintain adhesion in these valleys. again, the use of adhesive promoters in these areas might help this, but getting uniform adhesion across the entire matrix is difficult. The only way to truly take care of silvering is to fill in the gaps left when the film rides on the top of the dots. This is often done through the use of a clear glue stick. The idea is to fold back the film to just below the matrix and run a bead of glue at the juncture of the film to glass. Then lay the film back down and squeegee the glue line evenly through the matrix. The excess glue will flood the valleys between the dots and eliminate the "silvering" as that gap is now filled with glue. The last option is to trim the window film  just below the matrix and apply a black vinyl in the area that the matrix exists. This can be done very neatly via a butt seam method and give goo visual results from the exterior. However, it does change the look of the window from the inside and some customers might want that. I hope this explanation helps some of you deal with this pesky issue. As always, your experience might vary from this and these are just suggestions. Please try these and other methods at your own discretion and take precautions to not do any damage to the vehicle you are working on.

  • Interwest Tools Chicago Warehouse Prepares For Website Launch

    Our Chicago warehouse is building new racks and getting their tool inventory ready for the big website launch. We are shipping from all 4 warehouses already, but we continue to fine tune the system!

  • Interwest Tools Is Off To a Fast Start!


    All four Interwest Warehouses have been stocked with the full line of tools and are filling orders fast & furious! Come check us out & download a copy of the new catalog and price list at www.InterwestTools.com today! You can also request a hard copy of both if you would like. The new e-commerce site will be launching at SEMA and we think your gonna like it!

  • Interwest Distribution Unveils Plans For Tools Division

    Interwest Tools Littleton, CO (September 12, 2013) – Interwest Distribution Company announced plans today to dramatically expand their current installation tools business. Restructured under the name Interwest Tools, this division will offer a complete line of installation tools for the window film, paint protection film and vinyl graphic/wrap markets. Interwest President, Hugh Bernardi Jr said, “We have always had a tool division that did quite well, but it was never an emphasis. With the addition of our facility in southern California, we are in a unique situation to ship tools from 4 separate warehouses covering most of the United States with 1-2 day service.” In addition, he adds “Interwest has over 200 years combined experience in the industries we service. We plan to combine superior service, selection and expertise to provide the industry with a tool solution preferable to all others.” Chief Marketing Officer Patric Fransko adds, “I am really excited about our plans for this division of the company. I obviously have experience in the tools area of the business, and the infrastructure at Interwest is going to allow us to do things not possible in my previous endeavors.” Interwest is currently offering a full line of tools at all warehouses and plans to launch a brand new e-commerce website at http://www.InterwestTools.com in time for SEMA 2013.