PROFILE
In the NEWS


"Egyptian REPORTER" Monthly Magazine
Selling Security and Savings
July, 2002 issue


The ever increasing global prevalence of random acts of terrorism has brought to light our vulnerability and the dangers associated with one of our favorite interior design elements: glass. Kati Gargour reports on one easy way to increase your living safety and comfort at the same time.

Glass has been a favorite of architects and designers because it takes advantage of views, provides natural luminosity and makes a home roof building more attractive. More and more houses today are designed with wide-open spaces, and lots of windows to bring in large amounts of light. Glass, however, can have serious drawbacks threatening both our safety, not to say our life, and - surprise, surprise - our wallet! Fortunately, necessity, as the mother of all inventions, has brought us remedies to let us keep our wide vistas without the problems.

DRAWBACKS
It has been said that if it were invented today normal (annealed) glass would not be approved because it does not meet current consumer safety standards. When broken by accidents, storms or acts of violence, it produces dangerous shards that can maim and kill those close by. In fact, most bomb blast, earthquake and hurricane injuries (many of the fatal) are caused by flying glass. In Oklahoma City, for example, broken glass was strewn over an area encompassing six miles to the north of the Federal Building, and one mile to every other direction, many of the shards embedded in the walls of the buildings surrounding the explosion. People were also injured by flying glass from buildings located as far away as 10 city blocks from the blast site.
Five years ago, an unexpected weather turbulence wreaked havoc in Cairo. Gale force sand-laden winds exceeding 90 kilometers an hour uprooted trees and kiosks and hurled debriefs left, right and center for 20 minutes. Twenty four people were killed and hundreds of others endured injuries of various kinds, many from broken window shards.
Even unbroken, large window panes bring in many problems along with the light. Excessive glare washes out Elesion and computer screens and puts enormous strain on the eyes. light furniture, sending A/C's on overdrive. During the hot summer months, energy bills skyrocket. Expensive furnishings lose their brightness and attractiveness as the sun fades their colors. Furniture wood fades and loses its luster from the damaging rays of the sun.
Glass is also the weakest security link in any building. The more glass surface there is, the easier it is accessed by robbers or vandals.

Large window panes bring in many problems along with the light. Excessive glare washes out television and computer screens and puts enormous strain on the eyes. Light converts to heat sending A/C's on overdrive. During the hot summer months, energy bills skyrocket.

SOLUTIONS
As early as the 60's, people came up with the idea of gluing tinted plastic sheets on windows to guard against the shunt's harmful effects. It was then a somewhat unsightly solution, as the adhesives in use lacked proper ultra-violet light resistance and resulted more often than not in ugly discoloration as well as bubbling and partial peeling. Around the same time, another phenomenon was taking root, one that catapulted the hazardous nature of glass into the forefront of security concerns: terrorist bomb blasts.
As the IRA spread fear throughout British neighborhoods, scientist in England put their clever heads together and, taking the elementary tinted sheets as their base, came up with a product that would prove to be as lucrative to those that purchased it as to those who multi-layered PVC Shatter Resistant Window Film combined elements of sun control, safety and security in an easy to install, economical product that, once applied on an existing window would adhere so strongly that even bomb explosions would not teat though. First produced exclusively by a company called Armashield in England, the technology soon attracted the attention of the United States who, in the early 70s, was slowly becoming a favorite target of world terrorism. Today, the US is the world leader in window film production with renowned names such as 3M, Bekaert and Madico among myriad others. The industry today caters to various tastes and needs both in the market designed primarily for solar control, as well as that geared towards added security and safety.

THE IDEAL MARKET
In 1992 the ugly head of terrorism reared in Egypt. A young Walid Bishara took in the events, like most of the population, with shock and consternation. In 1993 when Cairo was marred by bomb blast left right and center, he saw a lucrative market opportunity in safety and security window film, still a widely unused product in Egypt. Contact with Armashield England soon secured him represenational rights and Armashield Egypt started filling its first contracts in 1994. Thanks to these products, which include only the best tried and tested window films in the world, many an embassy, business, bank and school in Egypt can rest easier as far as security is concerned.
As often in the case, as soon as Armashield Egypt's success came to be known on the market, a slew of other window film dealers opened their doors. This, however, did not shake Bishara's market position too badly since his company remained the only one dealing solely in superior quality products. After eight years in business, Armashield Egypt still control 95 percent of the local market share. "Anyone can sell a square-foot of film, " explains Bishara, "but the trick is to know what film goes on what window and then to apply it right." Bishara's crew has received extensive education on film application and extends service beyond expectations. "We don't just march in and put the films on. Fist, we prepare the ground, making sure the curtains are protected as well as the ground and surrounding furniture," he says. "These little efforts make a big difference to the customer."

TRIED AND TESTED
To convince us of his product's worth, Bishara leads us towards a clear glass pane erected on a wooden frame. With a big brick in one hand, he lurches towards the glass with all his might. I fear for the photographer who's places himself behind the window almost directly in the path of the projectile. A loud crack breaks the surface into a beautiful spider web-like pattern but the glass stays in place. The brick lies on the floor, broken into pieces.
Bishara proceeds to pass his hand over the cracks on the film-side of the pane. NO sharp edges, no cracks; therefore no risk of cuts. The film is as smooth as it was prior to the blow. To test the product further, we decided to do the banging. First, with a hammer. The glass crack further but the film holds firm. Our next tool is a screw driver. WIth sharp stabs we work hard to try and get though. Eventually, we wedge a small hole, too small to let even a finger through and attempts to force it in would be foolhardy indeed because the opening remains edged by the peaks of the glass shards still held in place by the film.

To convince us of the product's worth, we are led to a clear glass pane erected on a wooden frame. With a big brick in one hand, the man lurches towards the glass with all his might. I fear for the photographer who's placed himself behind the window almost directly in the path of the projectile.

NEW MARKET SHARE
Bishara explains that the films, once in place, last for a long time and probably will not have to be replaced until a glass breaks for one reason or another. A bit of a tricky situation for a successful dealer who might find himself hard pressed to find windows to coat once the market is saturated? Bishara laughs: "As long as buildings are being built, there will be windows to protect."
In the past, Egypt's primary interest was to shield glass surfaces for added security and safety. Today, many clients are beginning to understand the benefits of other kinds of window films as well. A particular favorite is the "Privacy Film" that prevents visibility from outside without marring the views from the inside. These are manufactured with multiple designs to give clients a maximum number of options. Some look like mirrors from the outside, others like Venetian blinds or frosted glass, to name but a few. All of them reduce infrared solar heat and ultraviolet radiation while letting in light. Some can filter out as much as 98 percent of the heat and block 95 percent or more of the UV radiation. Solar control film comes either with varying degrees of shading or totally clear for those who favor brightness. All existing window films offer shatter resistance, but for serious protection, one should go for multi-layered, specially designed, Safety and Security Shields, with specific adhesive systems. One installed, window films are totally undistinguishable - unless, of course, they come with a pattern of some sort.

WINDOW FILM FACTS

  • Window film is always applied on the inside of the glass pane, except when protecting glass tables or mirrors.
  • It takes approximately a month for a film to cure (attach) completely, after which it can be cleaned with normal window cleaning solutions, including ammonia-based solutions.
  • Window film is designed to last for many years: just how long depends on the type of film applied, type of glass it is applied to and the particular climate in which it is applied. For best results, ask for film that offers a life-time guarantee in writing.
  • Improper application of film may cause your windows to break in extreme heat because the film increases the temperature of your sunlit glass which will increase the stress on the glass edges. To prevent this, make sure your dealer knows his trade.
  • Glass cutters do not cut through window film. A robber will have to bang hard to get through.
  • No film makes windows totally bullet or bomb-proof. It merely increases the resistance and offers added safety and security.
Editor-in-Chief
Katrin Wegelius Gargour