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Smart Glass technology

PDLC glass and film


How does it work?

PDLC film is composed of two layers of protective film with liquid crystal layer in between. Liquid crystals are a substance which changes its structure from chaotic to ordered when electric field is applied.

If there is no voltage applied to the PDLC film, liquid crystal particles are positioned chaotically and the film disperses light. The film then works like opaque (milky white) glass.

If we now apply voltage, liquid crystal particles move to more ordered positions and the film allows light to pass through. The film turns transparent.

With fluid voltage changes, the transition from opaque to transparent state is also fluid.

What do the names LCD and PDLC mean? Which one is correct?

PDLC (Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal) is the currently used name of the technology in our film. Liquid crystals are dispersed in a layer of liquid polymer, which is then solidified. During this process, the liquid crystals retain their state, creating microscopic droplets in the polymer layer – within those droplets, their particles can still freely change their orientation when voltage is applied, which produces the effect of dispersing light or allowing it through, i.e. the effect of the changing transparency of the glass.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is how we call a type of display we use every day in a variety of devices. The principle of its operation is the same and is based on particles changing their orientation under the influence of electric field; however, the name is used to describe a particular kind of display, or device, with specific functions, rather than the material we use to make our film. The names “LCD film” (or “LCD foil”) and “LCD glass” were commonly used until recently to describe this technology, but currently the preferred term is PDLC, i.e. the name of the material and technology used in the film, while the term LCD is left to the actual devices, i.e. screens.

Is PDLC glass completely transparent?

In its transparent state (with power on), PLDC glass is virtually indistinguishable from regular transparent glass. You can also choose another available colour of PDLC film, install an additional permanent filter with a chosen colour, or install the PDLC film between sheets of tinted (e.g. smoked) glass, but the PDLC layer itself has only minimal impact on the basic transparency of the glass.

Can you change degree of glass opacity?

Yes, but only if an appropriate power supply unit is installed. Regular power supply units do not allow for fine control of opacity beyond the on/off states.

What are the available colours of PDLC glass and film?

Standard PDLC glass and film are colourless and transparent with power on and milky white when powered off. We can also install PDLC film of a different colour – currently available colours are white (basic), smoked (dark grey), blue, light red, yellow. Another option is to use an additional layer of tinted film in a chosen colour or to use coloured glass pane. It should be remembered that if we choose any colour other than basic white, such glass (both in its transparent and opaque state) will be tinted permanently and it will have impact on picture properties and colours if the surface is used as a projection screen.

Can you make curved PDLC glass surfaces?

Yes, we can make curved PDLC glass – please contact our consultants.

Will PDLC film/glass work as a rear projection screen?

Yes, with power off (i.e. in its opaque state) both PDLC film and glass make excellent rear projection screens. This makes them a great solution for advertising in shop windows, as well as for multimedia projections in conference rooms and exhibition spaces, where, once the projection is finished, the screen will turn transparent and will no longer block the view.

Is PDLC film/glass suitable for front projection?

In its standard version, PDLC film and glass is not suitable for front projection, although no special treatment is required to use it as rear projection screen. It is possible, however, to turn it into a front projection screen with a custom order – please contact our consultants for details.

Do I need a projector to use PDLC glass/film?

That depends on what we are going to use the surface for. PDLC glass and film allow for changing the transparency of the glass without any additional equipment; however, they will not replace a standalone monitor but work rather as a rear projection screen. Therefore, if what we need is a door or a window which will provide instant privacy when necessary, we don’t need anything else. To display movies or presentations it will be necessary to use a projector with parameters suitable to the space where the projection will take place. Such a projector can also be ordered with the glass.

How to clean PDLC glass and film?

PDLC adhesive film cannot be cleaned in the same way we clean regular windows, as contact with water will damage the film. It can instead be wiped with a lint-free cloth moistened with a mild detergent solution or with IPA (isopropyl alcohol). No metal equipment can be used to clean the film.

PDLC glass is composed of two sheets of glass, between which the liquid crystal layer is encased – the film is completely isolated from the outer surface, so the glass can be cleaned in the same way we would clean regular window glass.

How much power do PDLC glass and film require?

PDLC glass and film do not require much power – it is usually around 5-10W/m2 (depending on the kind of film used), so the power consumption per one m2 is comparable with a LED lightbulb. It should be noted that with power off, the glass is opaque – so we only use power when we want it to be transparent. From now on, when you are leaving the house, you won’t be drawing the curtains closed – you’ll be turning the windows off.

What operating voltage is required?

The voltage necessary for our switchable glass to turn transparent can be as low as 40-45V. However, in case of larger glass surfaces, 60 V is required, because voltage decreases with greater distance from the electrodes. In case of smaller glass panels – up to approx. 1 m2 – we can easily use the power supply voltage of 48V, which is considered safe and does not require safety measures of the kind used with higher voltages.

How to turn the PDLC glass on/off?

We can include a remote with our film or glass, allowing you to turn the window (or partition wall) opaque or to make a screen disappear without moving from your spot. A simple on/off wall switch can also be installed. PDLC glass can also be connected to the intelligent house system (or just particular elements of an intelligent house system can be purchased) and controlled with a smartphone or remotely via the internet. PDLC glass and film are connected to your electric wiring the same way as lighting, so the available solutions are also similar.

Why can’t I find the exact price on the website?

PDLC glass and film are not sold in pre-cut, standard sizes – they are individually prepared to meet our clients’ particular needs. Due to the variety of possible applications, this often also requires the installation to be carried out by our employees (electric wiring works, precise application of film so that there is no damage, etc.), cutting the film to the shape required for its planned use, or – in case of multimedia projection – the need to choose and install a proper projector. Therefore, we can only give a price range, and the value of the particular orders is calculated depending on the size and shape of glass/film, complexity of the order, and installation cost. With bigger orders it is possible to get a discount.

Can PDLC glass replace safety glass?

PLDC glass is composed of several layers – two sheets of transparent glass are laminated with the internal PDLC layer, which is additionally protected on both sides by layers of film with UV filter. This type of glass is a lot safer than regular glass, since the elastic films it is laminated with prevent it from shattering suddenly; standard PDLC glass has P1 safety certification. However, it should be noted that in the basic version, PDLC glass will not be a suitable replacement for bulletproof glass or for safety glass requiring different specific parameters or certificates. It is possible to laminate it with additional security (anti-burglary) film, use tempered glass, etc. Please consult our specialists if you have any particular safety requirements.

How long will my PDLC glass work properly?

The PDLC layer should work for at least 50,000 hours – this is how long the PDLC glass or film will work when transparent (powered on). Depending on the conditions (usage intensity, number of on/off cycles, UV exposure) it can operate for a little shorter or longer time, but the difference is not very significant.

What sizes of PDLC glass/film are available? Can you cut out various shapes?

For adhesive film, the maximum width is 1500 mm and the length can reach even 30 m. For PDLC glass, the maximum dimensions are 1800 x 3800 mm. It is possible to cut glass or film to a required non-typical shape – including cutting out holes, hinge openings etc.

Due to the difficulties with the production of non-standard shapes and with larger glass sizes (width of more than 1200 mm and surface over 2,5 m2), wait time and prices may differ slightly from the standard offer and are established on an individual basis.

Can I install PDLC glass/film by myself?

Due to the fact that PDLC glass and film require a slightly more complicated installation than their non-technological counterparts, it is advised to use the services of an experienced installer in order to avoid damaging the film/glass. In some cases it is possible to install them on your own – however, the surface needs to be properly prepared and power supply needs to be connected; special care should also be taken to install the film evenly and to not allow air bubbles or specks of dust to get stuck underneath. We recommend using our installation services for maximum effect!

Can such glass be installed in outer windows and roof windows?

Yes – powered off (opaque) PDLC glass or film will easily substitute for blinds and will protect us from curious looks and blinding sun, while when powered on, it will be indistinguishable from regular window glass. For outer windows we recommend, in particular, PDLC glass, due to the greater frequency of cleaning and greater risk of mechanical damage – the glass panel is completely sealed and equipped in UV filter, which will extend the lifespan of our intelligent window. For areas with strong sunlight it is possible to additionally install film which will limit heat transmission.

Can PDLC film be applied to just a part of a glass pane?

Yes, such solutions are used with great success e.g. in store windows, where a part of the window can instantly turn into a white screen which can be used to project advertisements and which will disappear once the projection is finished. For such a solution we will also need a projector. This type of screen can also be installed at home, for instance on sliding doors or on a partition wall.

Can PDLC glass and film be installed in a bathroom?

PDLC film does not react well to water and steam, but there is nothing preventing you from installing complete PDLC glass there – for instance, using it instead of a partition wall between the bathroom and the rest of the apartment, to ensure privacy when you’re entertaining guests, and still be able to take a relaxing evening bath without losing the sight of your cat, dog, child, or a particularly picturesque sunset. Using PDLC glass as partition walls allows for nearly unlimited space arrangement possibilities.

Can PDLC glass replace window curtains?

It depends on what we are using curtains for and what is the purpose of the room.

If keeping the room bright is important, we should choose white glass or glass tinted with light colours, which will constitute an alternative for sheer curtains, blocking the view from curious neighbours but keeping the room bright and sunny. Even opaque (powered off) PDLC glass of this type will not replace blackout curtains, but will be a great solution for office- and hotel spaces, as well as in doctor’s offices and hospitals – where hygiene is particularly important and the easily cleaned window or screen that can be switched on or off ensures the patients’ comfort, privacy and safety better than curtains or blinds, from which it is much harder to quickly and thoroughly remove bacteria and microbes.

Blackout curtains can be substituted with dark tinted PDLC film, which, when powered on, will act as smoked glass, and when powered off, will turn into a dark opaque surface with minimal light transmittance. This solution will be great e.g. in tall office buildings, where it will reduce glare on monitors for day-to-day work and allow to turn a conference room into a projection room at the flick of a switch. It can also be used in spaces used primarily for rest and relaxation, like spa rooms or post-operative rooms.