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Protecting low level aerodynamic aids from stone chips.

 3M Paint Protection Film

For a UK vehicle manufacturer, protecting low level aerodynamic aids from stone chips had proved costly, both in warranty claims and in rework during assembly. By working with 3M to find and implement a superior solution, first-time quality was significantly improved and warranty issues were reduced.

The Challenge:

To address the demand for models with lower exhaust emissions, a UK vehicle manufacturer had introduced a new option package that included additional aerodynamic aids. To protect the painted surfaces from stone chips, a paint protection film was applied to components in vulnerable positions.

Experience with this solution had highlighted two problems. First, in highly vulnerable positions the level of protection was insufficient, leading to customer complaints and warranty claims. Second, the sophisticated compound curvature of some of the components led to alignment issues during fitting of the film, creating expensive end-of-line re-work.

Alternative protection systems had been considered for particularly vulnerable areas, but rejected for a number of reasons. Cladding would require investment in tooling and it was felt that it would also detract from vehicle styling. Spray-on solutions had been rejected due to manufacturing complexity and visibility on the vehicle, which would become more prominent with time due to UV ageing.

Having already worked successfully with 3M in a number of other areas, the vehicle manufacturer asked if the company’s paint protection specialists could supply a film-based solution that would eliminate the fitting and durability issues associated with the existing product.

The Solution:

To address the durability issues, 3M selected a polyurethane film with a high impact absorption characteristic and an ability to ‘self heal’ minor surface blemishes. Higher thicknesses were specified for particularly vulnerable positions. The material specification selected by 3M ensures that the film will not mist or yellow as the vehicle ages.

To address the manufacturing quality concerns, 3M developed bespoke film shapes and appropriate application tools that ensure perfect alignment. The integration of tabs within the backing material provides a further increase in efficiency, contributing to an improvement in manufacturing efficiency alongside the enhanced quality and durability. Training for operators was provided by 3M and implementation was supported from the company’s local technical facility.


Increasing design flexibility – the need for designers to consider the vulnerability of styling components is substantially reduced, allowing more differentiation and increased model options.

Increased customer satisfaction – high performance paint protection films help retain vehicle aesthetics, even in highly vulnerable areas.

Wide range of specifications – 3M paint protection films are available in a wide range of materials and thicknesses to ensure that an optimum specification can be selected for all applications (paint protection, scratching, abrasion, chafing etc).

Manufacturing cost reduction – component costs are substantially less than moulded trim alternatives, as are tooling and fitting costs, and can be less than rival film-based products.

Long-term partnWarranty cost reduction - effective use of high quality paint protection films can significantly reduce warranty costs.

Highly durable – 3M’s polyurethane paint protection films do not yellow or mist after prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light or stress, so the film remains largely ‘invisible’ as the vehicle ages.

Immediate solution - 3M paint protection systems can be quickly developed for an existing product line and simply integrated with existing manufacturing processes.

Applications support - 3M can design the paint protection film component for each application and manage the full implementation from its UK technical facility, including materials validation, the development and supply of fitting systems and operator training.


  • Wheel arches,
  • Bumpers,
  • Leading edges across the vehicle e.g. door edges / handles,
  • Sunroof,
  • Tailgate,
  • Hole Sealing,
  • Anti-chafing / closures,
  • Weld seams,
  • Any areas where paintwork is vulnerable to damage.

Challenge us to save you money

Let 3M undertake a free review of opportunities to use paint protection film to reduce manufacturing and warranty costs and improve customer satisfaction. Our UK paint protection specialists have significant experience in manufacturing cost-down and will be happy to walk your line to discuss areas where 3M technology can help improve manufacturing efficiency.

Contact Us to put us to the test!



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