Volume 10, Issue 4                             July/August 2006

by Tom Niziolek

From Commodity to 
Revolutionary in Just a Few Years

Just a few years back the window film industry faced a major threat. The challenge was unique in that it didn’t come from outside forces. It wasn’t from international competition, shifting legislation or even raw materials costs. This threat was more subtle and more insidious. Simply, window films were nearing the point of becoming perceived as low-value, commodity products. 

The combination of discoloring auto tint, disposable, “do-it-yourself” glass insulation and underperforming commercial laminates compromised the credibility of the window film industry and threatened its long-term viability. After all, once a product becomes a commodity, price becomes the final differentiator.

There is one, and perhaps only one, sure-fire way to overcome commoditization: innovation. And this is precisely the strategy executed with great success by pioneering window film manufacturers and forward-thinking distributors. From revolutionary applications to unprecedented performance levels and compelling visual designs, window film innovation has come in many forms. New market opportunities and new levels of credibility have followed behind each breakthrough.

The beauty of innovation is that it becomes self-perpetuating. Advancement in one area increases the capacity for progress in others. New software programs expedite time to market, refined manufacturing processes enhance efficiency and improved mechanical systems ensure the highest product quality. The end results are rising performance and dropping costs.

This favorable trend has also been occurring in our industry for several years, and industry associations, including the IWFA and the AIMCAL Window Film Committee, have reported back to members the emergence—and implications—of major trends. While I would enjoy tracing this remarkable progress back to its point of origin, there is space in this column for only a handful of highlights. So I have decided to limit my search to the most recent. Over the past several months a number of window film makers have propelled all of us into a brighter future. Let’s take a look at a few of these highlights: 

Long known for its achievements in high visible-light transfer products, one film manufacturer has launched a new line of traditional window films that combine a clear layer of polyester laminated to a highly reflective, aluminum layer. 

Another manufacturer unveiled a series of “high-definition” window films that reduce ultraviolet rays and solar heat gain while preserving the clearest glass imaginable. 

Yet a third manufacturer has introduced a line of color-stable films with “anti-static” properties that promise to ease installation. As any dealer knows, effective installation is one of the highest priorities in customer satisfaction. 

A fourth manufacturer has introduced a low-reflectivity, metallized film based on the sophisticated concept of “nano-technology.” 

A film manufacturer has teamed with another company to release a “light-control” film that it expects to help open exciting new markets, including marine and aviation.

These are just a few of the most recent innovations in the traditional sectors of the window film market. Many companies also are investing heavily on antimicrobial products to create cleaner environments, privacy-aiding materials for high-security environments, and other high-value applications that many experts agree will sustain this industry for generations to come.

As they say, “A rising tide lifts all ships.” Given the rocky waters in which we all sailed in the not-too-distant past, this adage is especially true in our fine industry. WF

Tom Niziolek is marketing manager for Madico Inc. and president of the International Window Film Association (IWFA).

©2006 Key Communications Inc. 385 Garrisonville Road, Suite 116, Stafford, VA  22554
Phone: 540/720-5584, Fax: 540/720-5687 e-mail: film@glass.com