Posted in materials on April 10, 2014 1:45 pm EDT

3M Dichroic Glass Finishes Contain Color-Shifting Technology

Innovative surfacing material takes engineering tips from nature for a shimmering butterfly wing effect.

Kite design of 3M Dichroic Glass Finish. Image courtesy of 3M Architectural Markets.











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TAGS: artwork, biomimicry, interior design,


By Church Designer Staff

Created by 3M Architectural Markets with U.S. offices in St. Paul, Minn., 3M Dichroic Glass Finishes reportedly combine beauty, light and color with extraordinary technology to offer a unique and affordable solution for interior glass surfaces. Providing the look of true dichroic glass at a fraction of the cost, Dichroic film plays with light by reflecting and bouncing it to reveal a natural color spectrum, similar to the brilliant iridescence of a butterfly wing.

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based design firm SO-IL created a shimmering kite with 3M Dichroic Glass Finish for the annual Wallpaper* Handmade exhibit in Milan, Italy.

Working to find a way to give architectural glass the same kind of color-shifting effect, 3M scientists’ close study of Blue Morpho butterfly wings was the key to a breakthrough in glass film technology. The strikingly beautiful Blue Morpho butterfly wings emit a metallic shimmering courtesy of the creature’s unique physiology—multiple layers of microscopic scales, which appear to change color as the light hits them from different angles. 3M’s product developers borrowed this biological concept and integrated these layers to achieve a product with a similar effect. The result is a distinctive material that injects interiors with multi-colored brilliance, transmitting a rainbow of colors that shift and shimmer depending on the angle from which they are viewed.

3M Architectural Markets’ Teri Minard, business development manager, explains, “Dichroic is a one-of-a-kind material. Extending our research beyond the product development world, and into the natural world, introduced us to a whole new way of looking at light, which we’ve applied here. This transformative material provides innumerable opportunities for architects and designers to brand, build and illuminate in previously unseen ways.”

"This transformative material provides innumerable opportunities for architects and designers to brand, build and illuminate...."

—Teri Minard Business Dev. Manager, 3M Architectural Markets, St. Paul, MN

Dichroic Film is available in Chill and Blaze colors for applications to glass and some types of plastic surfaces. The Chill products shift colors from the transmissive cool tones of blue, magenta and yellow to the reflective colors gold and blue. The Blaze products change from the warm tones of cyan, blue and magenta to red and gold. The environment, lighting, viewing angle and mounting surface color influence the hues the viewer sees from either side of the glass surface. The results are truly stunning, 3M reports, and reveal the endless possibilities for transforming a range of spaces, including entrances, storefronts, roof windows, partitions, glazing, skylights and curtain walls, as well as lighting fixtures and more.  continued >>