Advancing Surface Protection: Nanoceramic Coatings for Windshields


You may have heard the term “nanoceramic” before, but do you actually know what it means? With such an exciting technology progressing at such a fantastic pace, the term “nanoceramic” is becoming more and more of a buzz word in the automotive industry, and we’re here to tell you that not only does it sound good, it should absolutely matter to you.

So, when I say “nanoceramic,” are you picking up what I’m putting down, or did your mind immediately wander off to images of tiny clay pots? Either way - have no fear - we’re going to go over the ins and outs of this miraculous technology and why you should care (even if high school chemistry wasn't your jam).

Nanoceramic Coat the World

From your smartphone to your tinted windows - nanoceramic technology is pretty much everywhere. It's safe to say we've come a long way in the last 50 years as far as nanotechnology goes, and it's probably something you've come into contact with before - even if you have never heard of it.

Nanoceramic Tint

While it won’t offer the impact protection of a windshield film, nanoceramic tint is still a great way to protect yourself and your car. The nanoparticles used in the many layers of the tint are able to shut out almost 99% of UV and IR radiation, which not only keeps you and your interior unscathed, while reducing glare, but also keeps you significantly cooler than traditional windshield tint. As an added bonus, because the ceramic nanoparticles used are nonmetallic and nonconductive, they won’t hamper the signals from any of the devices in your vehicle, so you won’t have to deal with any annoying Bluetooth streaming interruptions while you pretend to be Phil Collins in the drive-thru line.

Ceramic Shield by Apple

Corning, the same people who originally made your grandma’s blue and white CorningWare dishes and, more recently, Gorilla Glass, have made the next step in smartphone protection for Apple: Ceramic Shield. From the iPhone 12 onward, the glass used in the screens and lenses on these devices will be infused with ceramic nanocrystals that are no bigger than a wavelength of light (700 to 300 nanometers). As we’ve learned, the smaller the particle is, the fewer flaws there will be in the finished product, increasing its strength and clarity. The result is smartphone glass that’s hard to scratch and four times as resistant to drops. It’s not quite the six times as resistant as ExoShield is, but maybe Apple will get there one day.  

What does "nanoceramic" mean anyway?

Where did it come from? Did it come from space? Does it come in peace? Thankfully, nanoceramic coatings are terrestrial and only exist to protect.

Nanoceramic coatings start with a polymer base that has tiny ceramic nanoparticles suspended within it. These tiny particles are less than 100 nanometers in diameter (hence the name NANOceramic), which makes them virtually invisible to the eye when suspended in the coating. The ceramic nanoparticles that we’re talking about here are usually made of a material that has high hardness, which means they don’t scratch easily.

These nanoceramics can be used to protect many types of surfaces by bonding, either chemically or by filling microscopic imperfections in that surface, to create a glass-like shield layer. This defensive layer provides an unmatched hardness and clarity because, as the name implies, the ceramic material suspended within the coating is so small that it is virtually flawless (i.e. just like Beyoncé). Nanoceramics have grown hugely in popularity over the last 10 years, and are now becoming common not only in the automotive industry, but for tons of other applications, like that screen on your brand-new iPhone.

The beauty of these nanoceramic coatings is that you can also embed a variety of nanoparticles into the coating to give it different properties. Beyond their use as a protective layer against pitting and scratching, they can also make surfaces more water-repellant (aka hydrophobic) or UV resistant.

Definition: "nanoceramic"

The term nanoceramic can be broken down into two parts - nano which basically means "very tiny" (smaller than 100 nanometers), and ceramic which typically refers to a very hard, brittle material.

In the context of materials chemistry - a nanoceramic coating is simply one where we suspend nano-sized ceramic particles (nanoparticles) into a polymer coating that can be applied to a surface to protect it.

Things nanoceramic coatings DO protect against:

  • Scratches and abrasion
  • UV light
  • Chemical degradation

Things nanoceramic coatings DO NOT protect against:

  • Taxes
  • Lasers (yet...)
  • Your ex lurking your social media

While nanoceramic coatings alone have been around for awhile to protect the body of your car, their use on the windshield alone hasn’t gained much popularity. This is because one very important thing a nanoceramic coating alone can’t protect against is impact - the largest source of damage to the windshield. When you get rocks and other fun road debris flung at your car, a solitary coating suddenly turns into that second string goalie from your childhood hockey team, letting rock chips through and allowing windshield cracks to happen. On top of that, with all the wiper blade action on the windshield, that fancy coating really doesn’t stand a chance of lasting longer than a couple months.

This is where a film comes in. By using the toughness of a ceramic coating with additional layers that can absorb that impact, you finally get something that can make the save.

Nanoceramic Coating vs Nanoceramic Film: What's the difference?!

You’ve probably heard of ceramic coatings being applied to protect a car’s paint surface, but what if I told you that there are other places you can apply nanoceramics to protect your vehicle and your wallet? Chances are, you’re a little ahead of me here since you’re reading this on our website, so let’s go ahead and delve into shielding your windshield (or “windscreen” - I got you, Europeans).

The film approach is a three-stage one: a PSA you don’t have to listen to, a PET you don’t have to feed or take outside to go to the bathroom, and a nanoceramic hardcoat to top it all off.  Each of these layers are added one on top of the other to give you a layer that is both impact resistant AND scratch resistant at the same time.

optimize windshield exoshield

PSA - Pressure Sensitive Adhesive

The base layer, which adheres the film to your windshield. Sure, it has a little bit of impact resistance, but the focus here is the clarity to not obscure your vision and all that stick-to-your-windshield-and-not-fall-off stickiness you’re looking for.

PET - Polyethylene Terephthalate

The middle layer that takes the beating. This plastic material, that I have to sound out in my head three times before saying (poly-etha-leen tariff-thall-ate), is a shock absorber of the highest order, giving your windshield six times the impact resistance it would usually have. It is a fairly soft material, however, which is where the last layer comes into play.

Nanoceramic Hardcoat

ExoShield’s proprietary nanoceramic coating serves to protect the underlying PET layer from everyday abuse, like scratches from debris, degradation from UV light, stains from chemical contaminants, and even the abrasion from your own wipers. GT3, the newest film from ExoShield, features a topcoat with crosslinking to the PET layer, meaning the two are chemically bonded and make delamination concerns a thing of the past.

It’s like guarding your windshield with the love from the world’s strongest marriage.

The combination of these three layers result in unmatched scratch resistance and clarity. Another benefit of nanoceramic film technology is that because the ceramic nanoparticles in the top layer of the film are very similar to glass, you’ll still get that glass look and feel of the windshield even when the film is applied.  

Nanoceramic Film vs PPF

If you’re familiar with automotive protection products, chances are you’re familiar with paint protection film, or clear bra. While the concept is very similar, there are some major differences between a nanoceramic windshield protection film and traditional PPF.

Since paint protection film is used to protect (you guessed it) paint, the properties are a little different than what you might need for a windshield. For example, paint protection film is usually applied by stretching the film across the surface of the paint. It’s also fundamentally very different from a nanoceramic-based film, which has high hardness, in that it is actually very soft on the surface. This is because the small micro-scratches you tend to get on the painted surfaces of your car can be easily healed and hidden by a soft coating. Sometimes called “self-healing,” these coatings are very soft and can fill in any minor scratches in the surface of the film. While this works well for protecting your car's paint, it tends to get scratched very quickly on the harsher surface of the windshield.

On the other hand, when it comes to the windshield, scratch resistance via hardness is the number one priority, which is where nanoceramic windshield protection comes in.

If you’ve got questions about different types of films or would like some pointers on how to choose what’s right for you, check out the helpful post that we made just for you here.

The next step...

By now, we’ve hopefully opened your eyes to the magic of nanoceramic coatings and some of their applications, so it shouldn’t shock you to know that nanoceramic technology has made waves in a bunch of other industries. Who knew embedding ceramic nanoparticles in things would make them so great? Well, we did. That’s kind of our thing.

So, what do you think? Have we crammed your head full of enough nanoceramic knowledge? That’s pretty impressive when you think about how tiny those things are.

Since you’re here, we’ll go out on a limb and say you’re passionate about your vehicle, whether it’s a luxury cruiser, an offroad warrior, a GT carver, or a daily driver, and that you’re passionate about keeping it in great shape. If you’re ready to make the next step in protecting your pride and joy, follow the link below and find an ExoShield distributor or installer near you.

Learn More About ExoShield Products


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