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Safety vs. Solar Control Films

Test Standards

An impact test

In an effort to increase glass safety, the federal government has imposed several basic test standards for glass as well as window film. Concerns over glass breakage, and its effects, originated during the early days of the automotive industry. The attention shifted to the commercial and residential markets in the early 1970’s, which led to many building codes mandating tempered “safety” glass in high-risk glazing systems (e.g. glass doors, floor-to-ceiling windows, shower doors).

There are 4 standard tests covering situations where glass breakage is at high risk:

1. Human Impact
2. Forced Entry
3. Surface Abrasion
4. Fire

Human Impact Tests
Government safety standards have been established to reduce the risk
of death or bodily injury when human impact causes glass breakage. The American National Standards Institute (known as ANSI) created the ANSI Z97.1 Human Impact Test in 1984. This test is designed to simulate a person accidentally walking through a piece of glass. A leather bag filled with 100 pounds of lead is released from a height of 12” against a plate of glass mounted in framing system. On impact, if the bag does not penetrate the glass or cause a hole where a 3” steel ball could pass through, the system will have passed the test. This simulation must be conducted four successive times before a final “pass” grade is given. Additionally, if the glass does not break at a height of 12” then the leather bag is raised to higher levels until a breakage occurs.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has developed a similar test to the ANZI Z97.1, known as the CPSC CFR 1201 Category I and II. Using the same testing set up, the Category I test releases the 100 pound lead bag from a height of 18”, and the Category II phase drops the bag from 48”. Again, this is a pass or fail test.

Forced Entry Test
An independent testing facility, known as the Underwriters Laboratory, was created in the 1870’s to test and examine a multitude of products and materials to ascertain risk to life and property. Test UL 972 was established to measure how well certain materials resist “smash and grab” burglaries. A steel ball is dropped from a distance of 10’ against a two square foot sheet of glass five consecutive times. The system passes if the ball does not penetrate the glass after 5 attempts, and the results are the same on 9 out of 10 samples.

Taber abraser
Surface Abrasion Test
Window film manufacturers apply a scratch-resistant hardcoat to their films exterior to prevent wear
and tear from human and/or natural causes. The hardcoat test is called the “test for Resistance of Transparent Plastics to Surface Abrasion—ASTM D1044-94. It’s also referred to as the Taber Abraser Test, as this is name of the testing machine that is used. Basically, the machine repeatedly scratches the surface of a film as it spins around in a drum. After a set amount of rotations, the machine measures the level of haze resulting from the scratches. A film is considered scratch-resistant if the haze percentage change is less than 5%.

Fire test

Fire Tests
There are 4 different ASTM fire tests required for glazing systems:

1. ASTM D635-81 – test for flammability
2. ASTM E84-95B – test for surface burning
3. ASTM D1929-91a – test for ignition properties
4. ASTM D2843-77 – test for smoke density

A rating system is utilized in each of these tests and the results are compared against certain control products. The rating will determine if the product is acceptable for intended use. For window films, this determination would usually be made by building codes and would require a “Class A” rating.

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