The ultimate guide to dot matrix Part 2

In the last post we discussed dot matrix, I mentioned about the thickness of the film and how this can affect the look of the dot matrix after the window has been tinted, and the method used to shrink the film has a big impact again on the finished look.

 So in this article now I will talk about a few things that can have a positive effect on how the dot matrix looks, one option after you've tinted the  windows is to heat of the dot matrix and try and dry that area of the film out more and then apply some pressure with a hard card wrapped in a cotton cloth or using a piece of blue max squeegee, you can then apply pressure to the heated film.Using this method, you heat the film for about 6-8 seconds over an area around 6 inches constantly moving the heat gun  backwards and forwards you will see the matrix area change  its state slightly, this is the time when you need to remove the heat and apply pressure with your hard card or piece of blue max squeegee. You need to be very careful doing this, you can burn the rubber trims that are close to the dot matrix, or  you can even cause the film to blister as you have used too much heat.

This method really does take some testing to establish how much heat you can give the film before it blisters,one thing you can do once you get the dotmatrix ready to push down into place, is the spray some  cold water on the glass, you may see some smoking or steaming at this point is the glass cools, you then push hard with your hard card or piece of Blue Max squeegee push the film down and almost embed into the dot matrix area.The effect here is that you will improve the look of the dot matrix dramatically, by pushing the film into the heated dot matrix area that white silvery look that is common to see on a lot of vehicles which have tinted windows, will almost look like a factory tinted glasses if you get this method correct.

 NOTE:- Be careful when heating the matrix and cooling with water, their in an extremely low risk of glass fracture but you have been warned!!

The next time you tint some windows allow the film to dry for a  while before you practice this method, it does take some trial and error to establish the timings that work for you and each film responds differently to this method so this is just one of the things you can do to improve the look of the matrix and elevate the quality of finish of your car window tinting

 Another area of dot matrix is a big problem but not just car window tinters, but for customers as well, is the big band of dot matrix at the top of some vehicles on the back window.Common vehicle that causes a problem for a lot of window tinters is the BMW 3 series, this vehicle has a deep dot matrix at the top of the back window that is around three or 4 inches deep, I'll discuss now a few ways of dealing with this area of the glass.

 One method that is used on these type of windows is the sanding method, I'm not a big fan of this method but have tried it a few times over the years, you need to sand the matrix very carefully using 1000 grade wet and dry paper,be careful when sanding this area as if you stray onto the clear glass you will scratch the glass, it may be advisable to apply some masking tape to the top of the screen just below the dot matrix area.Sand the matrix in  even strokes and wipe off any black residue that may come from the matrix, I'm talking here about sanding with a wet sounding method, when the matrix is ready you should find you have no more black residue coming off the dots.Really clean the dots well after you have sanded them using an alcohol solution like IPA or Dirt Off which is a Llumar product.If the dots are not clean then you will spoil the look of the installation as the cleanliness means the film will stick very well to the dotted area.

 Another more popular method of dealing with this dotted area is to use Glue, install the film in the normal manner and squeegee out all the water, then peel back with film from the dot matrix area and apply a thin bead of glue along the bottom row of dots.You need to make sure you use a water-based glue,  a popular choice of glue is Elmers Blue school gel. (This is available in America,  I have yet to find it in the UK, but their are plenty of water based glues available) . What you need to do after applying the glue, is using a MacTac squeegee or a regular hard card with a piece of tissue wrapped around it, push slowly in upwards direction and push the glue through the dotted area, you may see some glue come out of the top of the film and this is quite normal, if you push too hard you will push all the glue out and defeat the object of the procedure, so push gently as what you are doing here is replacing the air and water that is trapped in the dotmatrix area with the glue, it is a good idea to have somebody stand on the outside of the vehicle watching those you work,  they can tell you if you miss any areas and don't leave any  patches, this method works great but like everything else with car window tinting it takes practice,.

 That's all for now for this part of the dot matrix trilogy, next time I'll talk about dry dropping and using an alcohol mix makes to  improve the dot matrix.


The Ultimate Guide To Dot Matrix Part 1

Following up on my previous post on the dot matrix , the ceramic dotted area that surrounds the edge of a lot of car windows and the battles you will have with this, I will post here for you now a few of the methods I have tried over the years to improve the appearance and Silvery look of Dot Matrix after window film is applied and and some of the factors that will affect the levels of success you will have in your in efforts to get the dot matrix looking good,and as close to the look of factory tinted glass as is possible.

1. Film Thickness!
This will have a major effect on the look of the dot matrix, if you are using a thin dyed 1 ply film it will lay down far better on the dot matrix than a high performance 2 ply film. Most 1 ply films are 1 micron ( 1mil) thick whereas a 2 ply film with be 1.5 microns, so the extra thickness means the film is not as pliable and won't form to the shape of the dots like a single ply film.
This leaves you in a dilemma, although there are colour stable single ply films they tend to be like tissue paper to work with and don't have the body that a two ply film has and you can easily crease these films just by looking at them... ok not quite that bad but they are much less forgiving especially to a inexperienced installer just finding his feet in the car window tinting business.

So your first thing to decide upon is will you sacrifice film quality for the look of the Dot Matrix??

2. Heat Shrinking Process!
Although you may not realise it but the way you shrink your back windows can have a big affect on the outcome and appearance of the Dot Matrix! If you are a powder shrinker, then you maybe don't realise that you are leaving lots of tiny un-shrunk areas of film, and as you shrink more towards the edge of the glass, into the matrix area, the film will become very distorted in that area and will not lead to the film sitting down nice and tight onto the dot matrix.

I would consider a switch at this point to either the soap shrink or the Ryk Shrink. The Ryk shrink is a little unknown and little used technique in the car window tinting industry and involves using 2 heatguns and shrinking very large area of film at one time, this means you are not focusing on the area of the film over the dot matrix but applying a more general shrink of the window film. The end result is that the film is less distorted and can result in an improved look on the dot matrix area.

Why not try this technique and see how your results can improve.

3. Cleaning Technique!!
People often neglect the dot matrix area in their cleaning preparation and this can have a major effect on the end results. One thing I do that does allow the film to adhere well to the matrix is spend a few extra minutes on the dot matrix, so what do we do to take our installations to the next level?
I use a 000 gauge wire wool to clean the back windows and heater lines and then will spend some time on the dot matrix and give it a a good scrub with wire wool and glass cleaner, I use foaming glass cleaner and spray the dot matrix with the cleaner and let it sit their for a few minutes, then I illuminate the rear window and cut out my film, the foam glass cleaner highlights the edge of the film making pattern cutting easier.
Ok, back to the matrix...after squeegeeing the glass clean in the normal manner, i will use some IPA (
Isopropyl alcohol) and wipe the matrix clean, and i mean "clean" and that means that no black dirt comes of onto your micro-fibre cloth. Then i will use compressed air in a can or my heat gun and dry the dot matrix completely. This super clean and dry matrix will be ready to take your film and stick like crazy!

Thats all for now in this first part of the The Ultimate Guide To Dot Matrix - next time i will tell you about sanding matrix, glueing, slip-mix,baking and quenching and a few other advanced techniques that can help you get the best finish ever.