The last of a long list of additions to our store this autumn is the 22PLE range of glass coats (made of glass, not for glass). As usual, this decision was made on the back of a period of testing, in which our own cars (Rich’s C30 and Clark’s WR1) were used as guinea pigs. Such testing not only allows us to assess the performance of new products properly, but also to determine their relative strengths and weaknesses. This is important, because it then enables us to write balanced comments in the ‘We Say’ section of the product description pages in our store, which in turn then hopefully enables you to make an informed buying decision (rather than simply being enticed by what the manufacturers marketing material says!). Although this approach is time consuming, we believe it’s the right thing to do, particularly when new technologies are involved. So, without further ado, here’s an overview of the cutting edge technology that 22PLE products use and the benefits they offer…
22PLE manufacture state of the art glass coats that simultaneously protect and enhance the appearance of exterior automotive surfaces (painted surfaces, plastics and bare metals). Developed in Singapore, 22PLE products use the latest in low volatile content silicon (Si) technology to lay down a film of exotic siloxane polymers that condense rapidly to form a very thin, fully crystallized glass (SiO2) coating that chemically bonds to surfaces at the molecular level. This curing process is very different to that of rival nanotechnology products, which contain alcohol and other volatile solvents that must be driven off (by heat) in order for the protective coating to form. 22PLE glass coats are therefore less sensitive to ambient air temperature and humidity at the time of application and, because they contain little or no alcohol and therefore do not flash off rapidly, are also much easier to apply evenly.
All 22PLE products feature an industry leading active silica content (of up to 92% in the case of 22PLE VX1 Pro Signature Glass Coat). As a result of being coated with an ultra-smooth, relatively dense layer of fully crystallized glass, treated surfaces become naturally water hating (hydrophobic), which causes rainfall and rinse water to bead up and roll off very quickly. This extreme beading not only looks good, but also tends to pick up and carry away fresh contaminants, which, combined with the naturally high scratch resistance of the coating, makes routine washing easier and safer as a result. In addition to these benefits, 22PLE glass coats also provide excellent protection against bird droppings, bug splatter, road salt and UV radiation for up to twenty four months at a time, even on daily drivers.
Notwithstanding these benefits, both the application process itself and routine maintenance thereafter can throw up issues that it pays to be aware of in advance. With regard to the application process, you should bear in mind that once 22PLE glass coats are fully cured, they are virtually impervious to strong cleaning chemicals and pressure washing, and can only really be removed by machine polishing. Therefore, when buffing off you need to be very thorough and ensure that all smears are fully removed. Failure to do so will result in any smears hardening and becoming troublesome to remove (if you spot them within a few hours of buffing off then a fresh application of product will often dissolve them, but any later and the chances are you will need to break out your machine polisher and polishes).
Moving on to routine aftercare and maintenance, there are a few important points to note. With regard to shampoo choice, we recommend using either a pure shampoo such as Auto Finesse Lather or a nano-friendly shampoo such as Nanolex Reactivating Shampoo. We’ve tried both options on Rich’s C30 (which is currently wearing a mix of 22PLE VX1 Pro Signature Glass Coat and Wolf’s Chemicals Nano Paint Sealant (Hard Body), albeit on different panels – the joys of long term product testing!) and we’re highly satisfied with both in terms of cleaning power, ease of rinsing and them not affecting the coatings in any noticeable way. More important than shampoo choice is making sure you dry off thoroughly, as failure to do this can lead to water spotting appearing, which needs some further explanation…
In a nutshell, because true glass coats lay down an inorganic protective layer completely free of oils, waxes and organic polymers (all of which help to prevent dissolved minerals in rainfall and rinse water from precipitating out of solution), they are prone to water spots developing on them whenever water is left to evaporate off of them naturally. As a result, it’s really important to dry off thoroughly after each wash (or else use 0 ppm filtered water for the final rinse), and it’s also a good idea to introduce a little oil and polymer/wax content to protected surfaces using a quick detailing spray, as this will help to prevent rainfall from causing spots between washes. We’ve tried both methods (pure rinse water & no drying off versus drying off fully and quick detailing) on Rich’s C30, and in the first case no spotting occurred after the rinse (but subsequently did with rainfall) and in the second case no spotting occurred at all (using Werkstat Acrylic Glos as the quick detailer).
With regard to the above tests, the spotting in the first case (pure rinse water & no drying off) wasn’t particularly noticeable, and came off easily with just normal strength shampoo suds during the next wash. However, it’s worth remembering that Rich’s C30 is white, and that water spotting on a darker coloured car may become baked on more firmly on sunny days. In such cases, the spots may become difficult to remove without recourse to light abrasive polishing, which is the last thing you really want to have to do. Therefore, in summary, we strongly suggest that the best aftercare scheme for all glass coats is to dry them off thoroughly and quick detail them after every wash. As you might well expect, a 22PLE quick detailer is already in the latter stages of development and should be out by the end of the year. In the meantime, any of the quick detailers we stock will suffice.
So, now that we’ve covered the potential pitfalls, you probably want to know about the benefits on offer, particularly in terms of durability. Well, the durability on offer is quite staggering, and we don’t say that lightly. It’s very easy to hype up products (we try not to, but there’s no denying it happens from time to time) but what the 22PLE range of glass coats offers in this respect is head and shoulders above anything else that we use and stock. Take 22PLE VX1 Signature Glass Coat for example. We’ve compared its durability with the closest rival nanotechnology products we stock by performing a brutal decontamination test, in which treated panels were: (i) washed at 60oC; (ii) soaked and wiped down with Autosmart Tardis; (iii) soaked and wiped down with Auto Finesse Iron Out; (iv) clayed with Auto Finesse Clay; (v) wiped down with neat isopropyl alcohol, and; (vi) finally washed at 60oC again. In all cases, rival nanotechnology treatments were clearly stripped to a large extent (vastly diminished beading), but the panel treated with 22PLE VX1 Signature Glass Coat was left beading almost as strongly as the day it was first applied.
In the same vein as above, we’ve assessed the durability of 22PLE VM1 Signature Rim & Metal Coat in a brutal fashion by using it to protect the fully polished cat-back exhaust system on Clark’s flame-spitting custom-mapped Subaru Impreza WR1 (which puts out 345 bhp and 345 lb-ft). Although this system doesn’t quite become red hot after a spirited run in the hills, it certainly gets hot enough to progressively cook off protective coatings over time. However, four months after treatment with 22PLE VM1 Signature Rim & Metal Coat and the beading along the entire length of the system was every bit as good as the day it was first applied. Similar results have been observed for 22PLE VR1 Signature Plastic & Trim Restorer; we’ve tested it on a number of daily drivers and after four months the beading was still almost as good as the day it was first applied. So, while we’ve got some way to go until we reach the official durability claims, it’s already clear to us that 22PLE glass coats have set a new standard for durability in the line up of products we stock.
The final two areas we want to comment on concern looks and value for money. In terms of looks, the best way to describe the finish that 22PLE glass coats produce on painted surfaces is… very glass-like! As you might expect, if you coat painted surfaces with a thin layer of ultra smooth glass they instantly become sharper looking and more reflective. However, the really neat thing is that they also gain a lot of depth too, i.e. it looks like an extra layer of clearcoat has been applied to the finish. Overall it’s a really eye-catching look, although best suited to cooler colours such as silvers, greys, blues and blacks. And finally, what about value for money? This is a tough call, because all of the 22PLE products are, by some considerable margin, the most expensive products in their class. Are you, as an enthusiast, able to justify this? Only you can decide; earlier adopters always pay more for the privilege of getting their hands on new technology first, but if you do bite the bullet then you will have the satisfaction of knowing your car is wearing cutting edge products. And for professional use? Well, in this guise 22PLE products make a lot of sense to us, because the performance is class leading, and being able to better preserve the amazing finishes we create makes them worth their weight in gold.
In summary, the 22PLE range of glass coats is not going to be for everyone, as the application requirements are relatively stringent and the products certainly cost a lot, but in return the performance on offer, particularly in terms of durability, is out of this world. As usual, if you have any questions please fire away below and we’ll do our best to help.