Industry Webinar Highlights Automotive Window Film Visual Inspection Guideline

May 6th, 2020 by Emmariah Holcomb

The visual inspection guidelines for automotive window film was explained during a webinar hosted by the International Window Film Association (IWFA).

The webinar began with an overview of the guideline’s origin. According to Steve Capoccia, president of the association’s public relations agency, Special Public Communications, in 1998 the IWFA expanded on what the European association introduced as a guideline for glass installation companies. The guideline was re-written to include window film and was introduced to the industry.

The Need

Steve Wood, Madico Inc. business development manager for Safety Shield and Sunscape programs, led the discussions about the need for an inspection guideline among other items.

According to Wood, one of the goals is to provide some consistentcy as well as ensuring the customer knows what to expect with newly installed automotive window film. “It’s also a way of explaining that automotive film installed on glass surfaces isn’t expected to have the same level of visual quality as glass,” Wood said.

Adhesion Timeframe

Installed automotive film on glass surfaces has a slightly delayed time for full adhesion to be achieved, since installations use slip agent solutions in water to float the window film onto the glass, according to Wood. IWFA executive director, Darrell Smith, noted Dawn liquid soap is a commonly known slip agent solution, as it “has a degreaser within it.”

“The time to achieve full adhesion is often referred to as the adhesive cure time, but on automotive films it’s really the drying time of the residual moisture,” Wood said.

According to the webinar, the time it takes for the film to fully cure is related to the films’ thickness and any film coatings that are present. Typical cure times may be extended or lessened according to climatic conditions and vehicle storage. It is recommended to consult your manufacturer for the expected cure time for its films.


The visual quality inspection can be made prior to the full cure time, however there are a few things Wood noted.

“It’s important to note that certain observations such as water distortion and water haze are not to be referred to as defects with the installation,” Wood said. “It’s also important to do the inspection in natural daylight, and no – lamps will not offer the same view. The glass with the installed film should also be viewed at right angles to the glass and at about three feet away from the vehicle.”

According to the webinar, the installation shall be deemed acceptable if the following are unobtrusive: dirt particles, hair and fibers, adhesive gels, fingerprints, air bubbles, water haze, scores and scratches, film distortion, creases, edge lift, as well as nicks and tears. “The inspection may be made within one day of the installation,” Wood said.

“The top edge may have a maximum edge gap of 1/32 – 1/16 inch. This ensures that the films edges aren’t lifted up by having contact with the frame gasket when the window is raised and lowered inside of its frame,” Wood said.

Both Wood and Smith agreed that applicational guidelines show a level of professionalism for the industry as a whole.

“You can choose if you want to go strictly by them or you can be a little more lenient or you can be more strict. The guidelines are to help give the customers an expectation,” Wood added.

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