DIY starter kit of PDLC window glass film transparency

FAQ: Window and glass smart film starter kit - do you have a 12v DC stick-on window film kit?

Legacy Page Bulletin for Smart Film

Please note that we have a new evaluation kit with electrodes installed, and a new website for the PDLC smart film. This page is here for legacy purposes only, describing the process of installing smart film electrodes.

Please see the new website:

If you have ever wanted a method of controlling of glass partition transparency, our new stick-on film may be just what you're looking for. It also makes a great rear projection screen!

We have prepared a starter kit for those of you interested in learning how to work with this new material; please see our online store to purchase our smart film evaluation kit.

Here's a list of contents for the starter kit:

  • smart film sample (12 sq in)
  • razer blade tool
  • cleaning cloth
  • power supply wiring
  • copper electrode material
  • 12v power supply w/ inverter
  • power supply plug adapter
  • DC to DC up converter
  • terminal block
  • power switch
  • 10 amp fuse

Compatible with all our remote control systems, this system includes the ability to have control extended to your phone, tablet, or PC.

control of window glass film transparency, window in transparent mode   electronic remote control of window glass smart film transparency, window in opaque mode

Simply cut it to whatever shape you need, apply it to your glass window or partition, and connect the wires - presto, you can now adjust the opacity of the window by electronic remote control. This material consumes 5 watts per square meter when switched on in full transparent mode; the blocked opaque mode uses no power.

We are now offering this material for sale, pre-cut to size with electrodes installed. Please see our website for pricing and detailed information. It operates on 12v DC (great for cars, boats, motorhomes, travel trailers, etc.), and we also have power supplies that plug into a regular AC outlet.

It is not necessarily the best choice for solar powered applications due to the current required to maintain it in the transparent state; our tubular motors can operate a shade and consume little or no power while remaining in either the 'transparent' or 'opaque' state. Also, both the 'transparent' and 'opaque' blackout mode can be 100%, although the transition is not instant.

Starter Kit: How to Connect Smart Film (PLDC) to 12v DC Controller

smart film starter kit working sample

1. Smart film starter kit working sample, 12 square inches

smart film razer blade preparation tool

2. razer blade cutting tool for separating smart film layers. There are 5 layer components:

  • cellophane protective layer (peel off) on both sides
  • two semi-rigid plastic film layers with liquid polymer 'state change' layer sandwiched in between

It is the liquid polymer layer that changes its transparency state when a voltage is applied to each of the semi-rigid plastic 'sandwich' layers. In its unpowered state, the long polymer molecules are randomized, resulting in an partially opaque film that you cannot see through. When enough voltage is applied, the molecules line up and the film becomes instantly transparent.

With this latest generation of material, the transparency effect starts at around 20 volts and reaches a maximum state of transparency around 40 volts. Although our 12v kit uses a fixed inverter output of 40v (basic on/off effect), you can vary the output voltage of the inverter by screw adjustment to observe partial transparency. Damage to the film occurs at voltages above 60 volts, so please be careful if you try adjusting it (use a voltmeter).

If you don't have a voltmeter, our kit can be ordered with a very capable auto-off digital multimeter.

peel back protective layer both sides of smart film protective layer

3. Peel back protective cellophane layers on both sides. It does not need to be removed, you just need to peel back enough to expose the edge of the material, in preparation for attaching the copper terminal strips.

liquid cystal polymer sandwiched between plastic layers

4. The actual liquid cystal polymer that turns transparent is sandwiched between relatively stiff plastic layers; note how left thumb is holding back the protective cellophane layer for electrical terminal preparation

razer blade separates layers at edge

5. The next step is to use the razer blade to separate the two inner layers of semi-rigid layers at an edge. You just insert the blade between the layers and draw it along; the razer blade is actually touching the polymer material as you do this.

You'll be doing this from both outer edges, and you'll need to leave a short 'isolation' zone between the two prepared sections, as shown in the picture. The purpose of the isolation strip is to prevent a short circuit from occurring between the two copper electrodes that provide the power required to switch the smart film on and off.

razer blade removes outer plastic layer

6. After you have scored it, opening and spreading the outer stiff layers a little, the next step is to actually remove the outer plastic layer strip, exposing the polymer on top of the plastic layer on the other side. The polymer residue will be removed in the step, and the copper electrode will actually be attached to the inner edge of the plastic on the other side that has been exposed.

After removing the plastic strip section covering the first electrode location, flip it over and do the same for the other side.

outer plastic layer strip removed each side

7. Here we show the first strip removed, exposing the polymer residue on the inside surface of the stiff plastic layer at the back. Both sides end up looking like this, and you'll need to develop a little bit of skill for this part, it is the most difficult part of the procedure.

polymer residue removed with cloth soaked with isopropyl rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover

8. Once both strips have been removed, clean the polymer residue with the cloth soaked with isopropyl rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover.

polymer residue removed showing clear plastic

9. This picture shows the polymer residue removed, exposing clear plastic layers. Note the isolation strip at the center.

copper electrodes connected both sides

10. Cut the copper electrode strips to size and stick them on the exposed plastic pieces, one on each side. You can wrap the copper around the outside edge. Do not let it touch the top layer, above the point where it is cut away.

power supply inverter terminals

11. Now that the electrode connections are done, attention can be turned to the power. The first step would be to connect the inverter to the power supply; it boosts the voltage from 12v DC to 40v DC. It is capable of outputting 60v DC, but anything in excess of that will damage the smart film.

The input terminals of the inverter are shown on the back (this picture); you would now connect the wires from the 12v power supply to the inverter input, observing polarity. Note that one side of the green scew adapter for the power supply output has a terminal marked with a + sign. Be sure that you connect that wire (usually red) to the screw terminal INPUT of the inverter marked +. Same goes for the negative side (-).

Please Note: You will not normally get a shock if you touch the inverter output, but you could get a non-lethal shock if you were touching a ground point elsewhere, like a cold water tap or the metal housing of a piece of electronic equipment. It would not be a good idea to stand with bare feet on a wet concrete floor in the basement while working with the power supply.

ready to activate smart film

12. ready to activate smart film

smart film activated with 12v power supply

13. Presto!! smart film is activated with 12v power supply

There have been some exotic types of dichroic and electrochromic 'smart glass' made that can have the opacity controlled by applying a DC voltage, but these have been very expensive and the cost of retrofitting glass windows or partitions has been very high. Now there is a relatively affordable new solution that anyone can easily apply (DIY).

Solar shade film has also been in use for many years, but it has a fixed transparency, whereas this glass film material can be adjusted from its transparent state to its blacked out state simply by the flick of a switch.

The technology was actually developed in the 1980's, but this newer generation has brought it to the truly practical stage. We think this is one of the most exciting window treatment technologies to emerge in a long time; please stay tuned to this page for product release information, coming soon.

At the current state of development, it’s not entirely see-through when it’s in the transparent mode (7% haze), and it doesn't block 100% of the light in opaque mode, but it is still a very useful material that will only improve with time. It consumes 5 watts per square metre when switched on to full transparent mode (blocked opaque mode uses no power). Voltage can be adjusted for varying degrees of transparency; it reaches maximum transparency at around 40v AC or DC.

Please see our online store for our smart film starter kit.

We sincerely hope you enjoy using these advanced technology systems and motors; if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time!