Project IS-F: We Evaluate 3M Performance films, KW Suspension, Volk Wheels and Nitto Tires

By Mike Kojima


When we last left off on Project IS-F, we had done some intake and exhaust work and gotten excellent results.  Now it was time to work on the suspension, get some larger rubber under the car and add some tint and protective film by 3M.

Of course a good tint job requires good installation. An ultra high end film like the 3M Crystalline we chose is somewhat tricky to install and we wanted a really clean professional installation.  Another thing is that 3M Crystalline is only available through authorized 3M installers.  We had The Tint Factory in LA expertly install our Tint. We had often tinted our own cars in the past and were curious to see how real pros do it.

Read More About Project IS-F Here!

To block heat and UV light from our car's interior, we hit up 3M for their high tech Crystalline heat rejecting window film.  More than just another window tint, Crystalline is a high tech window film that rejects heat at an amazing rate while allowing visible light to pass through nearly uninhibited.  We had excellent results with this film on our Project Tundra so we had to use this for Project IS-F as well.  Once again we had the pros at The Tint Factory install our film.  Here the film is shrunk to shape on the outside of the front window so it can be applied on the inside in one piece with no seams or wrinkles.
Crystalline uses 3M's proprietary multilayer technology. The working middle substrate of the film consists of over 200 individual layers that can block damaging UV and IR light while letting visible light pass through.  How this exactly works is a closely guarded secret of 3M.  The top layer is a special scratch resistant layer and the bottom layer is an adhesive layer.  The tint is non metallic which means that it won’t interfere with garage openers, cell phones, GPS, Satellite Radio, radar detectors and other telemetric devices like some tints can.  Non metallic means that the film will not internally oxidize or fade purple ensuring a longer life than lesser tints.  Here the tint is cut to shape after shrinking.
Multilayer technology blocks 99.9% of UV light and 97% of Infrared, more than any other film on the market. This helps Crystalline earn a recommendation by The Skin Cancer Foundation with an SPF of over 1700! The film also rejects 38 to 50 percent of solar heat depending on the darkness selected. What is cool is this means that the relatively clear Crystalline performs as good as or better than old school ultra dark limo tints. Crystalline also has low interior reflectivity and low glare which helps image brightness, especially when driving at night. The clearness of Crystalline tints means less unwanted attention from law enforcement. Here the film is cut and shrunk for the rear window.
This heat blocking technology means that the car's AC system works much less, thereby saving fuel.  A less taxed AC system puts less strain on the car’s cooling system. The tough polyester based film also improves safety as the glass if broken in an accident does not fly in many sharp fragments but stays in one softer piece that is less likely to cut or injure you. Crystalline’s exceptional heat and UV blocking ability means that your vehicle's interior will last much longer without fading or cracking.  The side windows are shrunk and cut.
We decided to use the darkest 40 Crystalline film on the sunroof, side and rear windows and the light, nearly clear 70 on our front windshield. First, The Tint Factories Ace installer Frank Garrido, thoroughly cleaned the inside and outside of our windows and laid down the film on the outside of our windows using a large amount of soapy water.  Then he trimmed them to exact fit using a razor knife.  For the compound curved windshield, Frank used a heat gun to skillfully shrink the film to the shape of the windshield so that it could be done in one piece.  This is pretty cool as we would always have to do curved windows in many pieces with seams.  A torch is used here to shrink small areas to avoid wrinkling.  Don't do this unless you know what you are doing!


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Mike D
Mike Dlink
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 5:00 AM
I didn't know tinting the front windshield was legal in LA, what is the maximum that you can go?

also on page 3 you should mention that forging is the process of using pressure to shape metal and can be done both hot and cold. Hot forging can be used to slightly melt the grains of metal together thus changing the size of the grain and the direction while cold forging is mainly focused on the direction of the grain

nice article, but how was the drive with the kw3's? you posed the question on page 4 "will they be streetable?" but we didn't get an answer
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 5:55 AM
You can see on the first page how the front tint does not interfere with cell reception as the installer has full bars and can easily multitask while installing the tint. ;)

I'm really interested in getting my front window covered with clear tint to help with the Vegas heat. Guess I'll start searching for 3M certified installers locally.
Wes Dumalski
Wes Dumalskilink
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 5:59 AM
This car is one of my favorites in the project car fleet. It seems to have it all in my opinion, looks, power, and handling. It oozes steez for sure. Nice choice of wheels!

Function crew for life Y0!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 6:55 AM
Tint might be illegal in your area, check local laws before doing it. The front tint we used is more like a heat blocking UV blocking film and it is almost clear. If you put this on, police probably would not notice it as it is lighter than the OEM tint. The amount of heat it blocks is amazing.

If you read somewhere in the end, we will be evaluating how the KW stuff works once we finish up the suspension. We have more stuff coming!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 7:01 AM
Mike D, that is not how forging works, hot forging has less grain upset and produces a less refined grain. Cold forging has greater grain refinement but more residual stress. The definition of hot vs cold forging has more to do the the characteristics of the metal as all forging is actually a hot process, above room temperature.
Mike D
Mike Dlink
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 7:19 AM
Tint is illegal in my area, hence why i was asking about LA. I know there is more to come as i did read, just based on the title i was expecting an evaluation of the suspension its self, sorry for the nitpicking, but i do read the articles for your technical input and evaluation of the products as it does influence my purchase decisions.

On forging, the way i understood is the difference between hot and cold when referring to temperatures is the grain recrystallization temperature. cold forging happens below this temperature while hot forging happens above this temperature. this is why there is the residual stress in cold forming and less in hot forming. the less refined grain is due to the metal being near or above the recrystallization temperature which promotes grain growth. the use of pressure in the hot forging process directs the direction of the grain while the heat promotes the grain growth which also relieves the residual stress.

please correct me if im wrong as this is just how i understand the process and i am in no way a materials specialist or engineer (for now)
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 7:52 AM
I live in San Diego so I assume "legal" is defined not by county but by state. Your tint installer will know what's what.

This legal (in CA) tint is nearly clear when you see it in person but the film has ceramic properties that keep the heat out. It's so good that the nearly transparent legal shade keeps more heat out than the darkest tint without the ceramic component.

Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 9:14 AM
Mike D that is a more accurate description.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 3:20 PM
With regards to the legality of tint.... well, in LA, there's legal/illegal and what you can get away with. On my S2000, I have both the driver's and passenger's windows tinted. Legal? No. Have I gotten a ticket for it? Not in the 3 years I've had the windows tinted and the car was my daily driver for over two years of that time.

Same deal with front plates. You are required by law to have a front plate in CA. Do I have one? Nope. In the almost 6 years, I've lived in CA, I've gotten 2 'no front plate' tickets from parking at meters on the street in downtown, and pulled over once in LAX and just got a warning. If you park long-term at LAX, you WILL get a 'no front plate' ticket. If you park at a meter spot downtown LA, you PROBABLY will get a ticket, though you're safe if you park in a pay lot. They seem to only dish out 'no front plate' tickets around downtown and LAX. I've never had issues parking anywhere else around LA.

For the most part, don't drive like a jackass and you have nothing to worry about.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 3:31 PM
I never get pulled over or ticketed, knock on wood. I think it's age.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 8:46 PM
On an LA tint/front plate note, I got a no front plate ticket parked on a side street in West Hollywood'ish area one night while attending a show at the Troubadour. I also roll my front windows all the way down and put my plate one when I go to LAX. Way too many people get tickets for that stuff there.

I was told by a CHP officer, that saw my car through a window while I was getting my no front plate ticket signed off, that any tint on the front or passenger/driver window is illegal in CA. Most tint places in Los Angeles have deals that when you buy tint from them, if you get a ticket they will take it off and put it back on at a discounted rate.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 9:17 PM
I think it's your look Mike. You need to but a blue bandana on your head and blast NWA's "Fuck tha Police" next time you pick someone up at LAX.
Thursday, May 17, 2012 8:45 AM
@x01011000x - Both Mike and I have had the "legal for CA" tint installed on our front windows. Both installers from two different shops made the "legal" claim. I've heard the no legal tint comment before but this new tint is really clear. I think Mike mentioned 70% meaning it's only blocking 30% of the light. Even factory tint sandwiched in the glass from the automotive manufacturers is darker.

Dark tinted windows, no front plate, loud exhaust and speeding are all just reasons to pull you over. It's the law or a judge that decides what's "legal." Dealing with the hassle of who's right is a whole other topic.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Friday, May 18, 2012 6:55 AM
I was such a sucker for some 5-6 spoke Volk's a few years ago until I saw there CE28s :-)

I know this is not an easy So Cal question to answer, but How does this 3M tint hold up to rear defrosters? I would assume great but I've been looking at tint places in town for the last couple weeks when this timely article came out. Just wondering what might have been said.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, May 18, 2012 6:58 AM
The tint has been on the car for a year with no issues.
Sunday, May 20, 2012 5:53 PM
I'm also enjoying this project car a lot, can't wait to see your impressions of the suspension in the next article...
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 7:47 PM
I just priced an install of 3M Crystalline from The Tint Factory. Even without front windshield, it's double what I payed for Madico Ceramic.

Does anyone have feedback comparing it to some of the higher end ceramic tint? Is it worth the cost over them?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 7:54 PM
There is a night and day difference even against other high end multi layer films. I have huber optics tint on my evo which is even more than 3m and it is not nearly as good.

Thursday, May 31, 2012 11:29 PM
Cool, thanks for the info.
Saturday, June 02, 2012 3:52 PM
drove with this car a bit earlier today.... it was a girl driving. car looks good.
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