Window Films Offer Clear Safety and Security Solution

Oct. 8, 2018

With facility safety and security top of mind for many, 3M has created an impact-resistant window film solution that can be retrofitted to existing windows.


It’s clear that when it comes to improving the safety and security of any facility, there is no one-step solution. Entries can be secured and cameras can be installed, but often when an attacker or even a natural disaster strikes, it’s the windows that prove to be the weak point.

Security was one of many megatrends highlighted during the 3M Discovering Transformations Media Day by Peter Elliot, business manager and brand owner solutions at 3M.

(Photo: Peter Elliot, business manager and brand owner solutions at 3M, delivers his keynote address on the ways in which 3M is making impactful transformations.)

“Not all trends are good trends. In this case, one of the things that we’re looking at is safety,” he said. “Something that we’ve seen more and more – and you guys are aware of this – are the mass shootings that are happening, particularly in schools.”

There are many products and best practices for preventing mass shootings in schools, but according to Elliot, who oversees the commercial graphics division, one of 3M’s focuses is on offering a unique option for securing windows. 

“It’s not bulletproof glass but it’s a deterrent for entry,” Elliot said. “It gives people time to get to safety, it gives more time for the authorities to arrive, it may even be enough time that the assailant will abandon what they are doing because they don’t have access to get into the facility.”

How It Works

3M Safety Window Film and 3M Impact Protection Attachment Systems are sold through certified dealers and installers and can be used in any number of settings, from healthcare facilities and schools to retail shops, commercial buildings and offices.

What makes this solution different is that a thin film is retrofitted to existing windows. To give it extra strength it’s combined with an attachment system with either an adhesive or profile option, which attaches to the existing frame.

[Related: 5 Things Window Film Can Do For Your Building]

The films are designed to keep broken glass together and the attachment system keeps the glass safely in the frame, explained Jake Oberle, marketing supervisor for 3M Window Film and Architectural Finishes.

(Photo: LesbiaGirón, 3M Advanced Materials Division, demonstrates how 3M Safety Window Film works during the 3M Discovering Transformations Media Day on Oct. 2, 2018.)

“If someone’s trying to break through, there’s a tornado or things are flying through the air, that’s what’s really holding this in place. The technology in the film, the attachment systems and then a very structural piece, typically a frame,” Oberle said.

Its effectiveness is contingent on how strong and secure the building’s window frames are, Oberle noted, but they have been tested and are intended to protect against:

  • Glass hazards
  • Natural disasters
  • Seismic events
  • Spontaneous glass breakage
  • Acts of vandalism
  • Forced entry crimes and theft
  • Bomb blasts

The product, depending on state and local building codes, may allow you to upgrade your glass to code at a lower cost and with less downtime than window replacement.


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Training and Education

Once the product is sold and installed, the goal is to educate building owners, managers, tenants and first-responders on how it works and what to do in case of an emergency.

“When you start looking at overall solutions in glass, bulletproof glass can be very hard to remove if you’ve got to get into the building or you’ve got to get out of the building,” Oberle said. “Every time we film someone, our installers or even our distributers … we’re out there, we’re telling them, ‘In case of an emergency and you need to get out, this is how.’”

Customization and Other Options

Depending on a window’s location, susceptibility to damage and overall budget, you can opt for either a single-or double-sided application. It also comes in different tints to provide sun control properties and can result in energy payback.

In addition to the safety window film, 3M manufactures a variety of window film products intended to:

  • Provide sun protection and reduce distracting glares
  • Provide temperature control and improve energy efficiency
  • Redirect sunlight deeper into rooms for brighter office spaces
  • Enhance privacy
  • Combat graffiti
  • Make bold design and architectural statements

However, for those whose top concern is protection, the safety window film can provide an option that allows you to secure your windows and protect tenants and property.

“Locks are great, cameras are great, but if nothing’s on the windows, it’s very easy to get into whatever that building is,” Oberle said.

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About the Author

Rachel Kats | Former Staff Writer

Rachel has years of experience covering everything from government and education to feature topics and events. A Wisconsin native, she holds a bachelor’s in mass communications and journalism from St. Cloud State University.

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