SEMA 2023: Industry Upgrades and How the City and Show Has ChangedNovember 8th, 2023 by Casey Flores
Changes that were coming are already here—both in the window film industry and at the SEMA Show at large. That was the major takeaway from tint shop owners and supplier representatives we spoke to last week during the show. What was top of mind?
If you walked the halls where our industry’s suppliers were located, you’d see color-change wraps going on cars left and right. This year, however, only about half of those wraps were vinyl—the rest were colored paint protection film (PPF). This newer product that has gone through a lot of testing, and companies felt their products were ready for their close-up with some offering up to a 10-year warranty. These films tend to be vinyl laminated together with TPU—traditional PPF material on the top surface. In the case of FlexiShield, which has a whopping 85 colors out, the films are dry-applied.
At least two suppliers displayed fully dyed, wet-applied PPF. Window Film magazine blogger Gabe Fletcher, who we ran into at the CeramicPro booth, told us it’s a game-changer.
“There’s nothing else like it,” he said, referencing Nanolink’s single-layer color PPF product. Offering a similar product was NKODA, a China-based manufacturer that’s working with the folks from Bray Windshield Protection to bring its products to the U.S. market. It’s made by replacing the clear pellets that normally get extruded into PPF with colored ones. The technology seems exclusive to Asian manufacturers with limited color-change PPF options such as black and matte currently offered by U.S. brands. NKODA representatives said the film can stretch “up to 300%” without losing its color.
Beyond color—two companies were eager to talk up their glow-in-the-dark PPF—STEK and NKODA. While not ready for market quite yet, we saw pictures, and the product is hauntingly captivating. Look for this to roll out within the next year.
PPF goes great on cars, but where else can it be applied? IVIOS offered a picture of that at their booth with a mid-sized drone from Korean defense contractor Vessel Aerospace. While not meant to transport humans, the company is working on such drones and many American companies including Archer Aviation and Joby are in the final test phases of electric vertical takeoff and landing (EVTOL) aircrafts that do just that. Meant to whisk passengers from busy metro areas to places like airports, at first, these people-movers could offer a whole new vertical for PPF installers with things like birds, hail, and debris threatening their exterior.
Attendees could find IVIOS in the North Hall, the traditional hall for restyling products such as window tint. While most legacy film suppliers relocated to the newly built West Hall, Sarah Kim of IVIOS told us she thinks they’ll stay in the North Hall next year, too.
“It’s less competition,” she said.
That said, more than a dozen film suppliers remained in the North Hall, including newcomers like NKODA and UK-based Covrgard, but also familiar brands like Rayno and Apollo Window Film.
One common theme from those in the newer West Hall (Eastman, XPEL, 3M, Madico, Solar Gard, etc.), was that, rather than stay in the Westgate Hotel attached to the convention center, exhibitors wish they had stayed at the Marriott Las Vegas—directly across from the West Hall entrance. This is something you may want to write down if you’re a regular SEMA attendee, as the West Hall is about a 20-minute walk from the Westgate.
One good thing about the new West Hall is it helps keep the crowds of people from getting so big that it makes it hard to enter some buildings at the event. Despite film being split into two halls, exhibitors we spoke to were happy with the turnout and say their booths were busy the entire time.
Ford’s New Partnership
One of America’s legacy car brands has teamed up with software company Zeno to offer color-change wraps to certified installers to its buyers. Here’s a video that breaks down the details:
We ran into Window Film magazine Top Dealer Bill Valway getting a demo of the new partnership and he said he won’t hesitate to sign up his company AP Corp to this network.
While the partnership currently only offers KPMF’s wraps, representatives told us they intend to work with more brands in the future.
Las Vegas Upgraded
The whole point of having SEMA in Las Vegas is the attractions that accompany the city—and there are some noteworthy new ones we wanted to highlight.
- Resort World – a new massive hotel and shopping center with dining options for all budgets located near the new West Hall. Under the Hilton brand, it could be a good option for future SEMA stays.
- The Tesla Tunnels – These are a few years old now, but we got to enjoy them for the first time. They quickly transport SEMA attendees from hall to hall and there’s even one that goes directly to Resort World. The city is now set to build hundreds of miles more connecting to the greater Las Vegas Strip, the local university and other locations.
- The Fontainebleau – The massive glass structure that’s been sitting vacant since the 2008 financial crisis is about to get new life. This 3,644-room resort and casino was not quite open for SEMA this year, but it does open next month and would make for a great, easy stay near the convention center.
- The Las Vegas Sphere – Our team got the chance to attend the Sphere Experience, an hour-long show at MGM’s newest entertainment complex extravaganza. For $98 we were treated to a first-of-its-kind 4D visual and physical experience and it’s among the coolest things to do in all of Vegas. If you get the chance, you should check it out when there and maybe use it to treat clients to a show. Side note: an identical one is slated to come to London, and cities worldwide are in talks to bring lesser versions to their home turf.