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I recently had some clear protection film (starshield, clearbra, rockblocker-like stuff) installed on my headlights. I went to a place that I know sells pre-cut film for Loti. They install film on plenty of more expensive cars (Porsche, Lambo, Ferrari). Anyhow, I went to watch the installer midway through the process and notice he is cutting the film by hand with an Exacto knife. I asked him why he wasn't using the pre-cut film. He said the guy who makes them is way behind. So I ask how he can cut the film without slicing the headlight. He said it just takes experience.

Is this possible? I'm tempted to lift up an edge of the film just to check for an Exacto etched line.

Any thoughts?
 

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Is this possible? I'm tempted to lift up an edge of the film just to check for an Exacto etched line.

Any thoughts?
Absolutely, and it will make for a much better installation than the "kits." It all comes down to the installers' experience.

The guys I've watched do it use disposable scalpels.
 

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yeah, i bet he etched a line into the headlight housing. :wallbang:
 

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I recently had some clear protection film (starshield, clearbra, rockblocker-like stuff) installed on my headlights. I went to a place that I know sells pre-cut film for Loti. They install film on plenty of more expensive cars (Porsche, Lambo, Ferrari). Anyhow, I went to watch the installer midway through the process and notice he is cutting the film by hand with an Exacto knife. I asked him why he wasn't using the pre-cut film. He said the guy who makes them is way behind. So I ask how he can cut the film without slicing the headlight. He said it just takes experience.

Is this possible? I'm tempted to lift up an edge of the film just to check for an Exacto etched line.

Any thoughts?
Yes, it is possible and this is the way the competent installers do it. If you lift the edge, it will be a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I had no problem with the place or the people. Very nice and professional. I just wished I was warned ahead of time that they were not using the pre-cut film.

The lines on the hand-cut film look pretty good. The only noticeable spot would be the final cut. On one side there was a tiny tail of film so I had the guy trim it.

The place did leave a message asking about my satisfaction level. I'll call them and let them know my concerns. I guess I could always take the film off, look for lines, and then have the place reinstall film, either pre-cut or hand-cut depending on my findings.
 

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From my limited experience with this, you don't need to cut fully through the film, but rather just score it (somewhat deeply). It'll then rip apart cleanly. The fit of hand cut film will potentially be much better than the precut pieces, especially as these parts do tend to stretch during installation.
 

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About one out of 10 installers can do it without scoring the light.

If anyone is interested I have 10 of these kits for the Elise laying around for the headlights and parking lenses. I will sell them for $35 a set. E-mail me if interested.

Keith
 

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I recently had some clear protection film (starshield, clearbra, rockblocker-like stuff) installed on my headlights. I went to a place that I know sells pre-cut film for Loti. They install film on plenty of more expensive cars (Porsche, Lambo, Ferrari). Anyhow, I went to watch the installer midway through the process and notice he is cutting the film by hand with an Exacto knife. I asked him why he wasn't using the pre-cut film. He said the guy who makes them is way behind. So I ask how he can cut the film without slicing the headlight. He said it just takes experience.

Is this possible? I'm tempted to lift up an edge of the film just to check for an Exacto etched line.

Any thoughts?
The guy here in Tampa that has done all my work uses them all over. I have never seen him touch the finish of my paint or damage anything "under his knife" and he has done five cars for me already with protective films, graphics and tint. I will be visiting him with my Lotus and the GFs SMART for more work as well. It does take a steady hand and a SHARP knife. I would say that in theory you are quite fine, but not knowing him I would go no further. IF he is as good as he thinks he is you will be fine. I am 50/50 on the precut stuff. Sometimes the kit is just not all that perfect. When that is the case hand cut has adaptability that cannot be beat.
 

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The problem isn't those people thinking are good. Everyone thinks their good. The problem is those people scoring your paint or your light. lol. Don't remove it, because then you'll see it. If you do have a mark it will be much less noticeable with the film in place. You'll never get the line back in the exact same place, so if you don't see it now, don't worry about it. If you take it off then find a line, you'll be wetsanding and using multiple grits of plastic polish for an hour or so to get it out, then giving it another go anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The problem isn't those people thinking are good. Everyone thinks their good. The problem is those people scoring your paint or your light. lol. Don't remove it, because then you'll see it. If you do have a mark it will be much less noticeable with the film in place. You'll never get the line back in the exact same place, so if you don't see it now, don't worry about it. If you take it off then find a line, you'll be wetsanding and using multiple grits of plastic polish for an hour or so to get it out, then giving it another go anyway.
I'm also thinking that even if I remove the film and see lines that the shop won't do anything about it.

If one day I need to remove the film and I find lines, will wetsanding really be able to get them out? Of course it depends on how deep they are but I figure if this guy was half way decent, the lines shouldn't be too deep.
 

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I'm also thinking that even if I remove the film and see lines that the shop won't do anything about it.

If one day I need to remove the film and I find lines, will wetsanding really be able to get them out? Of course it depends on how deep they are but I figure if this guy was half way decent, the lines shouldn't be too deep.
It is possible to get even relatively deep cuts out of plastic but it takes some work. Wet sand then rubbing compound then polish. Considering where the score line is I would just have the same type of install if you replace the film at some point. Since it is on the border of the light it should be easy to match compared to a score line in the paint on the body of the car. Unless the installer went Superman with the knife it will not hurt it, only leave a scratch at most. If the film looks good I would not worry about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
^Thanks! All good to know.
 

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The problem isn't those people thinking are good. Everyone thinks their good. The problem is those people scoring your paint or your light. lol. Don't remove it, because then you'll see it. If you do have a mark it will be much less noticeable with the film in place. You'll never get the line back in the exact same place, so if you don't see it now, don't worry about it. If you take it off then find a line, you'll be wetsanding and using multiple grits of plastic polish for an hour or so to get it out, then giving it another go anyway.
Yeah, I forgot to mention that. Them SAYING they are that good don't cover it. Now if a bunch of their customers say they are you MIGHT be ok. I like my guy here in Tampa. (No Sweet that is not THAT guy he is ONLY an installer.)

I have to completely agree that removing it to check is a horrible idea. The line of the product will hide the scratch if there is one.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yeah, I'll just leave the film in place. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Besides, maybe there will be some cool headlight assembly upgrade in the future that sheds 10 lbs and adds 10 hp. ;)
 

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My car came without Starshield and was later installed at the dealership. I asked if they had something that could cover the headlights. The installer used a very thick (5x thicker than starshield) material which because of the compound curve did not turn out well. The installer used an Xacto knife to cut the film to shape on the housing. When we removed it the housings were deeply scored.

In hindsight it was not worth it, but if you and the installer still want to continue with the installation get in writing that they are aware of the replacement cost and that they accept responsibility.
 

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I really can't tell. I guess it goes down to the installer's experience. Yet, I'd still prefer the precut for safety measures.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The installer used a very thick (5x thicker than starshield) material which because of the compound curve did not turn out well. The installer used an Xacto knife to cut the film to shape on the housing. When we removed it the housings were deeply scored.
That bites!!! Did they get you new replacements?
 

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No, but that was more my fault than the vendor. The dealer that I got it from was located very far from where I actually live. Luckily SCC was able to remove the cuts.
 

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I really can't tell. I guess it goes down to the installer's experience. Yet, I'd still prefer the precut for safety measures.

Had I not the confidence in my guy here I'd be 100% with you. If you have the time to find someone with TONS of repeat customers all singing praises go for it.

If not (like if I had to move too far away from this guy) I'd totally want pre-cut.
 
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