Invisible automotive protective paint film is pretty commonplace these days, but this was not always the case. Lets take a look at where this technology came from.
The Beginning of Urethane Technology
You may be surprised to learn that urethane technology was originally developed during the Vietnam War. During this particular conflict, US helicopters were crashing as a result of damage on the leading edge blades of the rotor. To prevent this, the military worked directly with textiles manufacturer 3M to develop the technology for a lightweight-but equally resilient—material that could replace an entire rotor blade (or even, potentially, an entire crashed helicopter) at a fraction of the cost. In the following decade, the success and efficiency of this urethane film encouraged the military to expand use around the noses of fighter jets.
Urethane Film and the Automotive Industry
Of course, 3M now manufacturers a wide variety of urethane films for not only the military but also in wider aerospace applications, today. However, in the 1980s, NASCAR observed just how effective urethane technology in protecting vehicles and sought this benefit for the front half of race cars. You see, advertisers pay a lot of money to plaster their logos and names and colors on the hood of race cars, so it is in the best interest of not only the racers but also their sponsors, to protect that paint job.
Perhaps on the heels of this success, these urethane films started to become available to the genera consuming public in the 1990s. Since that time, of course, they continue to be refined and improved and are now a major part of the automotive industry. Today, ProShield urethane films have been approved by nearly all automotive manufacturers.
What is Urethane?
Urethane is a versatile and powerful polymer made out of carbamate links. When established as a compound, urethane demonstrates unique attributes, mainly that it is both lightweight and transparent, much like plastic (but stronger). Unlike plastic, then, urethane will not wear away or crack; it is not brittle and not vulnerable to heat and tearing the way that plastic can be. This polymer compound, then, has high resistance to impact and abrasion and corrosion while maintaining utmost flexibility and has the ability to retain its shape even after stretching. Obviously, it is quite easy to see how this material could have versatile applications.