Katja Finger, Business Development Manager, 3M Asia-Pacific
3M Asia-Pacific's business development manager — building safety solutions, talks to Ammar Master about the new 3M Crystalline automotive window film being launched in India.
How does 3M perceive India?
India is certainly not a mature market like Japan, Taiwan or Korea but has been changing rapidly over the last couple of years. The desire for better products is clearly on the increase. However, we know that volumes might not yet be in the high-end market and, therefore, have the full range of auto window film products.
What prompted the launch of 3M Crystalline in India?
We see clearly that customers in India have higher expectations. They are also getting educated on the window film business. People want good quality films and reject those where durability is dubious. We do see an opportunity for these films in India and offer customers the best.
What is the edge that 3M Crystalline has over conventional auto window films?
Without a doubt, it is technology. It is for the first time in the window film's history that a true optical performing product is being offered for a simple use such as an automotive window film. Although it looks like a conventional window film, it is in reality produced by combining two technologies: multi-layer optical technology and nanotechnology. Multi-layer optical technology is normally used to make flat panel LCD televisions and sophisticated optical components. It is for the first time that we are using this highly sophisticated technology in a window film. When we talk about nanotechnology, we are referring to very small particles. Nanotechnology is not what is innovative about this film since it is pretty old. What is unique is the combination between nanotechnology and the multi-layer optical film.
What does this mean?
Well, this produces a film with more than 200 layers of materials and half a thickness of a Post-It note. We coat nanotechnology onto those layers to provide a tremendous heat rejection capability making it a solar control window film. The other difference is it does not contain any metal particles. In conventional films, you can reject heat either by making the film very dark or inserting tiny metal particles in the film that reflects the heat out. However, the problem with metallised film is that it interferes with radio signals, GPS etc. Therefore, it is not practical for new cars that have all these devices. That is the technology behind this film.
What are the benefits to the consumer?
In the first place, it has better performance with heat rejection at an angle. All conventional films measure heat rejection at an angle of 90 degrees but we measure it at 60 degrees. There is almost 10 percent heat rejection at this angle as the film has so many multi-layers. The other benefit is that it makes windows less reflective. Glass usually has a reflectivity of eight percent but these films have a reflectivity of 6-7 percent. So they are very good when it comes to safety. A third benefit is its UV blockage which we measure at 99.9 percent although a UV meter will show 100 percent UV blockage. The reason we say 99.9 percent at 3M is because we like to account for manufacturing variability. This is also why the Skin Cancer Foundation has endorsed this film. It gives additional protection in case of an accident though they are not safety films.
How long did it take to develop Crystalline?
It took us three years to ready this product and that is long for a company like 3M. We started with market research in Asia and the US and discovered that the need was for a clear film with extremely high heat rejection but without metal particles. It is very difficult and almost a technological contradiction. That is how 3M had to take technology it had in other areas, combine them and come up with this film. 3M has fully patented Crystalline but we are pretty certain no other company can make them because the investment to produce these films is staggering.
What is the investment involved to develop this film?
It is well over $5 million without taking into account manufacturing capability which is already in place. We already had it through the optical division. This is actually the stepping stone in technology we can take and combine with other technology. We will, in all probability, build on this technology and come up with very innovative films in the future.
Other than India, where else is this film being launched?
We launched it in Taiwan in May with great success and are right now introducing it in Malaysia, Indonesia and China. Thailand will follow in September. This film will be launched all over Asia. We are doing a skilled approach to be able to back up all our investments in the launch activity.
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