In the September/October edition of The Wise Crack I wrote about a film being used by some RV manufacturers during the transport of new luxury coaches, but had not been able to find any information about films being applied as a permanent protection.
Immediately after the newsletter was sent out I heard from Ted Kovarik of Solano Windshield Repair. Ted alerted me to the fact that there is a company producing a film that is being applied to RVs to help protect the glass, and it is apparently intended to be permanent. I then did a Google search and came up with the following article: http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2006/12/18/031787.html It should be noted that this is an after market product, not a factory applied coating that glass manufacturers have produced. Thanks Ted!
I have not obtained a sample of this product yet, but it has been a recent topic of discussion on www.windshield-repair-forum.com, and at least one technician is currently testing the product for durability, etc. I suppose I should wait until the verdict is in, but if the world’s largest glass manufacturers and automobile makers were unable to produce an optically correct film durable enough for the interior of a windshield, I think there is a pretty slim chance that this product will hold up well on the exterior of a windshield. There are some pretty good plastics on the market these days, such as the ones used for high end motorcycle windshields and aircraft canopies, but so far I have not seen any that do not scratch when subjected to daily abuse from the combination of windshield wipers, dirt, sand, ice, salt, detergents, snow scrapers, etc.
I expect this product will be short lived, but who knows? In any case, it is currently being marketed in some areas, and you may very well run across it from time to time, so I suggest that you be very careful about your decision to repair or not to repair a windshield that has a film applied to the outside surface of the windshield.
It’s not that the resin will likely damage a film that is meant to hold up to the elements, but I think it may be very difficult if not impossible to scrape off the excess resin without damaging the film. I would also caution against the use of heat guns, torches, or even moisture evaporators. It might be a good idea to update your current waiver of responsibility, or create a new one that specifies what your guarantee will be for a windshield repair performed on such a windshield.
It may be that depending on the location of the break a customer will still want their plastic coated windshield repaired, so it will be very important to set realistic expectations. It may be that a small section of the coating can be removed prior to the repair, and then replaced with a new film over the break, but no matter how good you are at applying films, this new element to the job will have an effect on the cosmetics of a finished repair. My guess is that most of us will never see such a windshield, but it’s always best to be prepared just in case.