LA Metro is the transit system based in LA with over 125 stations covering Los Angeles County. The system contains 2 underground lines and 4 above ground lines covering over 105 miles of track. Daily ridership is over 360k people.
Los Angeles Metro’s stations are clad in a stainless steel finish that is very susceptible to marring and aggressive vandalism. Stainless steel with a factory applied grain is very difficult to refinish once vandalized, and over 300k sq ft of surfaces required repair due to aggressive graffiti. Repair costs were estimated between $15M – $20M dollars for union labor to refinish the stainless steel surfaces, with an additional $2M installation of a clear anti-graffiti film to protect from future vandalism. This repair would have also required the closing of the entire station (and loss of revenue) due to the health and safety risk of airborne dust and metal debris created during the refinishing phase.
With cost clearly the largest issue, clear anti-graffiti films installed to a stainless steel finish posed an additional challenge to Los Angeles Metro. Final installation of clear anti-graffiti films allows visibility of the inevitably uneven refinished surface through the film. Traditional anti-graffiti films can also be very difficult to remove from a stainless steel surface when/if replacement is required; and the clear sacrificial layer may not withstand an overly aggressive vandalism attempt, requiring removal, refinishing, and/or replacement. To properly account for this risk, an additional $2.5M annual maintenance budget would need to be established to remove and replace the clear film as future vandalism occurred.
Graffiti Shield Solution
It quickly became evident that refinishing the stainless steel surface and applying a sacrificial clear protective layer was not a viable solution for Los Angeles Metro. To resolve the issue, the R&D team at Graffiti Shield Inc. were tasked to engineeran opaque product that would replicate the look of stainless steel, install like a traditional anti-graffiti film, and utilize an adhesive that would cleanly release from the surface.
Metal Shield, a 6-mil thick graffiti abatement and obscuring film is installed over a damaged stainless steel surface; replicating its original, clean appearance. Metal Shield protects the substrate from future damage while covering up any existing vandalism. Metal Shield utilizes a proprietary adhesive system engineered to withstand removal attempts by the general public, but easily removed by a trained technician without leaving any adhesive transfer on the metal surface.
Upon initiation of a pilot program, an additional challenge arose. Precut film pieces with unique part numbers for quick and easy identification and replacement were required; enabling Graffiti Shield to efficiently conduct proper maintenance each month and allowing Los Angeles Metro to call out part numbers as specific vandalism events occurred. As a solution, Graffiti Shield utilized Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to assign and engrave part numbers into each piece of installed film and to date. There are over 23,000 SKU’s and templates that encompass the Los Angeles Metro stainless steel cladding.
Los Angeles Metro’s internal research deemed that the option to use a stainless steel anti-graffiti skin to overlay damaged cladding provided significant cost savings over metal refinishing and clear film installation. As a result, Los Angeles Metro awarded Graffiti Shield a $20M contract to service all 100+ stations on a monthly service cycle; balancing out to approximately 42% replacement.
Since the stations are constantly inspected and maintained, the entertainment and advertising industry has increased utilization of Los Angeles Metro for movie shoots and television commercials.
The overall improvement to the stations’ appearance has led to an enhanced feeling of safety and a greater sense of pride for the patrons as a whole; and the best compliment is that many don’t even know that Metal Shield is there.
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