Cut PPF Like a Pro

Applying PPF to a luxury car is made easier when you first use the right cutter for the film.

Remember your first ride? It may have been a hand-me-down junker from a family member, a new car from a rich uncle (don’t we all wish!), or your first major purchase with income from your summer job. Whether an old jalopy or a sporty car, you probably washed, waxed, and polished it as if it were worth a million dollars. In your mind, it was.

Now, remember when you saw the first scratch or rock scrape on your beautiful car? It almost physically pained you when it happened. It would have been nice to have an extra layer of protection on your vehicle. If you could go back in time, and you had the resources or talents, you would likely install paint protective film (PFF) on that first love. Little did you know back then that in your future you would cut PPF like a pro with the right equipment.

What Is PPF?

Paint protection film, or PPF, is not a commonly-spoken phrase or acronym in everyday life. It is a thermoplastic urethane film that is transparent but can be custom colored or textured and used to mimic gloss or matte car paint. It comes in different grades and thicknesses and can be precision applied to each customer’s request.

PPF is not the same as vinyl. It is stronger, thicker, more durable, and yet lightweight. Most PPF has an adhesive layer, a middle layer, and a top, self-healing layer, along with the release liner. These layers are thin enough to allow you to cut like a pro using the right cutter for the job and by performing the professional weeding you are already used to doing with regular vinyl.

The History of PPF

Sometimes inventions are created for kicks, and sometimes they are created to solve problems. PPF is both! It has an interesting origin story: During the Vietnam War, the Department of Defense for the United States needed a solution to the damage they were experiencing to their helicopter rotor blades. Trees, shrapnel, and other debris were causing expensive and continuous damage, so a protective cover was needed. Paint protection film was invented.

Later, a new use for PPF was discovered and put to use as as an upgraded alternative to car front end covers, commonly called car masks or car bras. They were not just invented to look cool or be different. Road travel means your car is exposed to rocks, debris, bugs, sticks and corrosive elements that damage the hood and paint.

But why just protect the front bumper and hood? The entire car needs protection and decoration. PPF is installed over as much or as little of a car as a customer wants, offering a longer-lasting paint finish and protection from corrosive elements like road debris and scratches.

PPF can be sheet cut or precision cut to fit a car’s specific measurements. But it doesn’t matter how high grade of a film you use if you have poor cutting and poor installation of the film. Let’s talk about how to cut PPF like a pro with precision accuracy.

64" Vinyl Express Q Cutter
With a 64″ width, the Vinyl Express Q64 cutter is the big boy in cutting PPF like a pro

Q54 Vinyl Cutter
The Q54 Vinyl Express cutter can be used for a variety of projects,
including cutting PPF like a pro!

Multi-Tasking Cutters Can Help You Cut PPF Like a Pro

No one wants to purchase and house a bunch of specialty items, crowding work areas and taking up valuable shop space. And who wants their budget spread across multiple pieces of equipment? That’s why it’s good to investigate multi-tasking cutters. For advanced (or wanting to advance) vinyl cutting professionals expanding into car wraps or window tinting, choosing and using the right paint protection film (PPF) cutter is an important decision. And you can cut PPF like a pro with the right cutter.

SignWarehouse carries two options for multi-tasking cutters which can be successfully used for PPF – the Vinyl Express Q54 vinyl cutter and Vinyl Express Q64 vinyl cutter. These cutters are great for cutting PPF but can also be used in cutting vinyl for signs, personal vehicle and fleet vehicle wrapping, cutting sandblast-resist stencil, large format graphics, and more. Watch a video about the Vinyl Express Q Cutters.

Vinyl Express Q54 cutter closeup
Vinyl Express Q54 and Q64 cutters have an easy-to-read screen for setting up to cut PPF like a pro

Q54 Vinyl Cutter:

Choose one of the packages (Expert package, Master package, or Master package plus) which include vinyl in assorted colors, application tape, weeding tools, and more, or the Vinyl Express Gen 3 54 inch vinyl cutter, stand, and media basket without the added package contents.

Vinyl Express Q54 Gen 3 Specifications: 

  • Digital Servo motor
  • Max Cutting Speed: 55 inches per second
  • Max Cutting Force: 500 grams
  • Max Media width: 60.20 inches
  • Max Cutting width: 54 inches
  • Number of Push Rollers: 4 Rollers
  • Tools: Cutting Blade, Plotting Pen, or Pouncing Tool
  • Cross-Cutting
  • Perforation Cutting
  • Buffer Memory: 2 MB
  • Display: Graphic type LCD (3.7-inch, backlight)
  • Power Source: 100 V to 240 V AC, 50/6

How to Find the Right PPF

ORAGUARD 270 Paint protection film
ORAGUARD 270 Is a great choice for custom PPF applications

Like noses, there are many different opinions on which PPF is best to use for vehicle protection. An option SignWarehouse offers is ORAGUARD 270 Stone Guard Paint Protection Film.  This 6-mil film is designed for medium-term outdoor paint protection and is intended for use on flat to moderately curved surfaces but can also be used as a laminate when a more durable protection is required.  This durable film is 6 mil and has a gloss finish. Other specs are:

  • Intermediate PVC paint protection film
  • Automotive paint protection for flat surfaces and simple curves
  • Wet application when used for automotive paint protection
  • Can also be used as a laminate to provide durable protection
  • Permanent solvent-based adhesive on a one-sided silicone coated paper liner
  • Recommended for use with cold pressure lamination tools when used as a laminate
  • Reverse wound
  • Outdoor durability of up to 5 years
  • Data sheet

Be Confident You Can Cut PPF Like a Pro

Applying PPF is often requested and executed at car dealerships, but you can do it after market for your customers, it is also good to let them know you offer this service. With the Vinyl Express Q cutters, you get the multiple options of cutting vinyl for signs, printed vehicle wraps, and other graphics and expanding into paint performance film application. Why not investigate this growing market to see if adding this option to your business services would be a good idea. Be confident! You can cut PPF like a pro!