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SpeedNews 3 15x .pdf


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TECH MAT TERS

INVISIBLE SHIELD

MILITARY-GRADE FILM PROTECTS
PAINT FROM CHIPS AND
SCRATCHES
STORY BY MARGO MCVAY
PHOTOS COURTESY OF BLOCK-A-CHIP

In race conditions, cars are
going to take a beating. From
gritty track events to the aptlynamed NASA “Sandblast Rally,”
it might be wise to find a way to
protect your vehicle’s expensive
finish and vinyl graphics from
rocks, debris and gravel.
We checked in with the
manufacturer of XPEL paint
protection film to see how it can
keep vehicle paint and vinyl
graphics looking good for years.
Drivers who use it say that XPEL
film is the best product you have
never seen because it’s an invisible
shield that protects high-impact
areas from damage in even the
most grueling race environments.
Originally developed to prohibit
military helicopter rotor blade
damage in Vietnam, protective
film became especially important
26

to shield equipment used in the
sandblasting desert conditions
during the Gulf Wars. In the 1980s,
paint-protection film for automotive
applications initially began as a
vinyl nose mask or “bra” of clear
film. These earlier versions of film
were not flexible, which made it
difficult to apply smoothly, and the
adhesive often showed through,
creating an orange-peel effect.
The paint protection firm, XPEL
Technologies Corporation was
formed in San Antonio, Texas, in
1997 with a focus on developing
innovative, high-performance paint
protection film products that would
provide optimum clarity, flexibility
and durability. Through research
and development and input
from consumers, installers and
automotive industry experts, XPEL
created ULTIMATE, the industry’s

Originally developed to
prohibit military helicopter
rotor blade damage,
protective film technology
has advanced, and now
can be form fitted to a front
fascia.

first self-healing film. This patentpending, self-adhesive urethane
film features a unique clear coat
with special elastomeric polymers
that allow scratches in the surface
to “heal” over time, eliminating
the need for frequent polishing to
maintain a high-gloss appearance,
while also shielding the film from
contamination and deterioration.
For an invisible installation that
conforms to the complex curves
of a vehicle’s high-impact areas,
XPEL engineered flexible, wide
sheets of film to make it easier for
installers to create a seamless,
undetectable layer of protection.

To preserve the finish on the
expensive and difficult-topaint roll cage, Block A Chip
wrapped each bar with a
custom-cut section of XPEL
film.

Albert Helcberger, owner of
Block A Chip in Mentor, Ohio,
wraps the front of a Dodge
Viper with XPEL protective
film

To see how XPEL works as a
cost-effective way to maintain
the appearance of race vehicles,
we contacted XPEL installer
Albert Helcberger, owner of
Block A Chip in Mentor, Ohio.
“When I got my Corvette I
wanted to preserve my investment,
and a coworker at the graphic
design company where I was web
director told me about film. In 2002
it was hard to find an installer, so I
put the film on myself. After seeing
how the film was protecting my car
and also enjoying the art of film
installation, I gradually developed
this business,” said Helcberger,
who went to the XPEL Training
Center in San Antonio to receive
in-depth installation training.
According the Helcberger, car
owners who wanted to preserve an

expensive vehicle’s original paint
saw the value of paint-protection
film. “Clients knew that if their
vehicles were damaged, refinishing
would cost thousands of dollars,
and even then, it still would not
look as good as the OEM coating.”
In 2012, Block A Chip was
introduced to the world of racing
through a referral to North
Canton, Ohio,-based McCann
Racing. McCann designs, builds,
modifies and preps race and
street vehicles, with a focus on
Dodge Vipers and Nissan GTRs. According to McCann Racing
Team Manager Dan Fiffick, “Our
shop has a reputation for creating
high-performance race vehicles
with show-car looks, and adding a
layer of XPEL film is the way to go
to maintain a great appearance.”

No damage-prone surface on this
Viper was overlooked. To preserve
the finish on the expensive and
difficult-to-paint roll cage, Block
A Chip wrapped each bar with a
custom-cut section of XPEL film.
To get the right fit for each
car, XPEL has an extensive film
pattern library for more than
70,000 vehicles. Kits range in
application from fenders and
mirrors to front bumper fascias
and rocker panel kits. Costs vary
by application, but we found prices
from $50 for wheel openings to
$450 for front bumpers. SN

RESOURCES:
www.XPEL.com
http://www.blockachip.com
27


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