Perforated window film is a type of graphic vinyl that allows the person inside the vehicle to see-through, while appearing opaque from the outside. It’s not a high tech product, but rather a plain vinyl with a block-out layer and a series of perforations (holes) in it. All the major vinyl graphic manufacturers have their own brand of this film and popular one being 3M’s ContraVision.
Using the film is surprisingly expensive and can cost as much as four times that of regular vehicle wrapping film. This begs the questions “do I need to use this?” There are a few considerations when using perforated window film in your vehicle wraps.
1. Film Laminated Perforated Window Film – In order to use a cold film laminate for your window film, you’ll need optically clear laminate. This means you’ll need another roll of laminate to have in stock which not only will cost a premium, but you’ll rarely use. The major problem with this technique is because you have the perforated layer laminated with a clear top layer, when your squeegee over the film in certain areas you’ll have air bubbles trapped where the perforation holes are. Over time as these small air bubbles in the perforation are exposed to the sun, they will dry out, crack, and the panel will eventually need to be replaced.
2. Liquid or Non-Laminated Perforated Window Film – By simply not laminating or liquid laminating your perforated window film you can avoid the small the air bubbles that come with using a cold film technique. Optically clear vinyl laminate isn’t exactly as clear as glass anyway. A new problem appears if you follow this technique, of course if you don’t protect your print in any manner, in about 2 years your colors will fade and the print would be damaged by any number of things such as car wax. The major problem is the perforated holes will trap water droplets when it rains and become a hazard to driver, often providing no visibility.
3. No Perforated Window Film but Opting for Solid Vinyl – Using solid vinyl may best be suited for cargo vans where their drivers rely on their mirrors more than on typical passenger vehicles. Simply using the vehicle wrapping vinyl would be the easiest method of application and you’d also have the peace of mind that all the vinyl graphics are the same and will age at the same rate. Using this technique or designing with no windows installed on, can be a safer avenue to go down, but more savvy customers may demand a perforated window film product.
There’s no perfect way to complete your vehicle wraps using perforated window film, but use what’s right for you. I avoid using it where possible to avoid work coming back as a product failure and to limit any hazardous driving conditions.