Paint Protection Film (PPF, also called clear bra, clear film or clear paint film) is a thermoplastic urethane film applied to painted surfaces of a new or used car in order to protect the paint from stone chips, bug splatters, and minor abrasions. This film is also used on airplanes, RVs, cell phones, electronics, screens, motorcycles and many other areas. Paint Protection Film is OEM approved by virtually all car manufacturers.
Paint protection film is installed on a limited basis by manufacturers on various pieces of cars at the factory (e.g. the rear arches of Porsches). This flm is most commonly applied to high impact areas of vehicles. The film is generally installed by certified trained professionals who receive supplies from outside distributors and dealers. Some tinting and detail shops also offer this service.
The primary function of clear bra is to prevent rock chips in paint, scuffs, many types of vandalism and other scenarios that result in superficial damage to car paint.
Paint protection film is mostly installed on the forward facing portions of automobiles but may also be installed on as much as a full body of a vehicle for the maximum paint protection.
Military Origins of Paint Protection Film
As with many other consumer products, paint protection films were first developed and used by the military. During the Vietnam War, helicopter rotor blades and other sensitive parts of military transports were often damaged by flying shrapnel and debris.
The advantage of replaceable film over the replacement and repair of damaged rotor blades was immediately clear and its adoption was uncharacteristically quick for the US military. As a result, there are still people in the industry who refer to PPF as “helicopter tape” although this term is becoming less and less common as automotive applications have taken precedence.