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Stone chip protection - adding value applications
By Denise Nathan

The sign market can be incredibly competitive. With many companies having the ability to offer the same technology, prices and margins are under pressure especially with more traditional sign advertising. Looking at new or niche markets for self adhesive is an opportunity to introduce more high-end, higher profit applications.

Once such application is vehicle paint protection systems. The cost of applying these systems versus the benefits they provide means the application need not be so price driven. There is no requirement for additional technology, simply the skills of an experienced applicator and finding the right customer channels.
 

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Stone chips and scratches have a significant effect on the appearance of a car. Not only do they age the paintwork but this unpleasant effect also significantly impacts on the value of any vehicle. Darker coloured vehicles in particular are the most prone with any imperfections being highly noticeable.

As well as the aesthetic impact on a vehicle, stone chips and deep scratches that are left untreated can cause further problems. Any damage that penetrates the protective paint layer of a vehicle exposes the underlying body to moisture and air causing the metal to oxidise.  If the rust is not treated then it will spread and soon a small stone chip can develop into a more costly repair.

Touch up paint is an option and cost effective but if the work is not carried out by a professional the end result can be disappointing with the touch up areas still being visible. Metallic paints, especially silver, are a popular finish and they are even harder to touch up. The metallic look is a result of aluminium flecks suspended in paint. Laying the paint down with a touch up brush doesn’t give the same effect as spray painting. The touch up areas can reflect the light differently making the colour look different and the repair work even more noticeable. In the end, to ensure a perfect result, repair work or respraying the area will need to be carried out by a professional. Not only will this be more costly for the owner but also inconvenient as the vehicle will need to remain in the panel shop for repair and while new paint cures.
 
Rather then dealing with stone chips after they occur, a cost effective method is simply prevention.

An effective method of prevention that can be promoted by sign professionals is to have the vehicle protected with a self adhesive stone chip protection film. Some vehicles already have these films applied during the manufacturing process but if not it is very simple to offer this protection to the car afterwards
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Stone chip protection films are thick and soft, safeguarding the paintwork and absorbing the impact of flying stones and light debris. They can be used to protect any painted surfaces on a vehicle. Stone chip protection films also offer equal protection on new or old surfaces so can be applied any time.

These films are ultra-clear, self- adhesive Polyurethanes (usually). They are highly resistant to UV and non-yellowing so maintain a near invisible protection layer for a number of years. These films do not alter the appearance of the vehicle and do not influence the ageing or fading process of the underlying paint so on removal the protected paint work is not vastly different in colour to the areas of the vehicle not protected by film. It does pay to check if this is a feature of the product you intend to buy. Once they are applied the film does not require any particular treatment or maintenance.

Stone chip protection films are conformable so bumper wraps and curved surfaces are no problem in the hands of a professional installer. The application can be done on site and the benefit to the customer is that there little down time compared to waiting for paint to dry. The inconvenience of the car being off the road is significantly reduced. For trucks, taxis, courier vehicles and other fleet owners who rely on their vehicle to generate revenue, this is a significant benefit.
Another bonus of protection films is that it is harder for dirt, pollution and insects to stick to the film and so the vehicle is easier to clean.

Stone chip protection systems can offer new business opportunities for any sign shop. There are many markets that can be targeted. Car dealerships can offer stone chip as an added value to a vehicle sale. Rental car companies and companies who rent out high end cars for corporate functions or weddings have a vested interest in maintaining the appearance of their cars for aesthetic appeal. Trucks, buses and caravans who do high mileage on busy roads are particularly prone to stone chips and usually have high maintenance bills. Stone chip film will reduce these costs significantly.

Stone chip film is a cost effective solution for all these markets and a profitable one for the sign industry.

Denise Nathan is Marketing Manager - MACtac in Oceania
denise@mactac.co.nz
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