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Retroreflective Material: The Ultimate Guide


Retroreflective material is the most popular and cost-effective material in traffic safety products. It is widely used in various road traffic safety facilities such as traffic signs and markings, protruding road signs, outline signs, traffic cones, and anti-collision tubes. Vehicle number plates, clothing, shoes and hats, fire protection, railways, water transportation, mining areas, etc., can be divided into reflective materials for traffic signs, reflective materials for road markings, protruding road signs, outline signs, reflective materials for clothing, etc.

What Is Retroreflective Material?

Retroreflective materials reflect light directly back to the source through micro prisms or glass beads. Therefore, the observers closest to the light source (such as motorists) can easily notice the information on the road signs ahead and the protective clothing on the road workers, thereby effectively reducing traffic accidents.

Schematic diagram of retroreflection (micro prism)
Schematic diagram of retroreflection (glass beads)

What Is The Difference Between Retroreflection And Reflection?

Retroreflection is the reflection of light back to the source through glass beads or micro prisms.

Reflection is divided into specular reflection and diffuse reflection. Specular reflection is reflect light at the same angle as the surface it hits; diffuse reflection is to shine a light on an object and reflect it in many different directions.

Schematic diagram of specular reflection
Schematic diagram of diffuse reflection

How Are Retroreflective Material Applied?

After 3M developed the first retroreflective material in 1937, in 1939, the National Standard for Traffic Signs of the United States, “Manual of United Traffic Control Devices”, formally stipulated that retroreflective sheeting should be used to manufacture traffic signs. Since then, retroreflective materials have been widely used in traffic safety. The main applications are as follows.

Used for traffic signs: On highways, country roads, streets, railways, bridges, tunnels, and other traffic roads, the surface of the signs we see is almost made of different grades of retroreflective materials.

Used for conspicuity marking of vehicles: Countries have clear requirements and regulations on how to use retroreflective tapes on vehicles. The Americas use DOT C2 reflective tape; the European Union uses ECE 104 reflective tape; the Middle East uses SASO 2913 reflective tape; etc.

Used for billboards: Traditional billboards use electric lights to illuminate the information on the billboards. For this purpose, a retroreflective film (also called commercial grade reflective sheeting) has been specially developed to replace traditional billboard materials.

Used for reflective vests: The back is either base fabric type or hot melt adhesive type clothing reflective tape, they are sew-on reflective tape and iron on reflective tape respectively.

What Is The Grade Of Retroreflective Material?

According to the ASTM D4956 standard, the retroreflective sheeting used in traffic signs can be divided into ASTM D4956 Type Ⅰ (Engineer grade reflective sheeting); ASTM D4956 Type Ⅱ (Engineer Grade Prismatic Reflective sheeting); ASTM D4956 Type Ⅲ (High Intensity Reflective Sheeting); ASTM D4956 Type Ⅳ (high intensity prismatic reflective sheeting); ASTM D4956 Type Ⅴ (Diamond grade reflective sheeting), etc.

Clothing reflective tape is usually classified into Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 according to the level of the reflective vest.

How To Choose The Best Retroreflective Material?

When choosing the retroreflective material, we must first understand the specific application. In this way, we can choose reflective products that not only meet the requirements of local regulations, but also have cost-effectiveness.

If it is applied to traffic signs, you need to know what type of road it is applied to, such as country roads, streets and parking lots, usually engineer grade or EGP reflective sheeting; schools, highways, railways, highways, etc., usually choose HIP or DG reflective sheeting.

If it is applied to vehicle conspicuoity marking, you should choose the corresponding vehicle reflective tape according to local regulations. DOT C2 reflective tape is usually used in the Americas and some countries that learn American traffic laws; ECE 104 reflective tape is usually used in EU countries and India, Singapore, South Korea, and other countries; SASO 2913 reflective tape is usually used in Middle East countries. There are also reflective tapes selected according to Class1 and Class2 types, such as Australia.

If applied to protective clothing, you should select the corresponding clothing reflective tape according to the requirements of the protective clothing you are applying. For example, fire suits require the use of FR reflective tape. In addition, we usually choose and apply reflective tape for clothing based on reflectivity and washability.

If the application is on a maritime safety object, then you should definitely choose marine grade Solas reflective tape. And depending on the application, you can choose either the self-adhesive type or the sewn type.

We Offer You The Following Types Of Retroreflective Material:

We provide you with various grades of retroreflective sheeting according to ASTM D4956.

Include: Engineer grade reflective sheeting; Engineer Grade Prismatic Reflective sheeting; High Intensity Reflective Sheeting; High intensity prismatic reflective sheeting; Diamond grade reflective sheeting.

We can provide DOT C2, ECE 104, SASO 2913 reflective tape according to your country’s regulatory requirements.

At the same time, we can customize chevron reflective tape, printed logo reflective tape, die-cut reflective tape roll, etc.

Retroreflective sticker seems to be everywhere in life, it is usually applied in traffic sign stickers, helmet decals, motorcycle stickers, vehicle bumper stickers, etc.

Contact us to customize a variety of retroreflective stickers for you.

Clothing reflective tape is an important part of reflective vests. We offer you various types of reflective fabric tape and Iron on reflective tape.

The most common types are FR reflective tape, T/C reflective tape, polyester reflective tape, elastic reflective tape, reflective webbing, reflective elastic band, reflective piping, reflective yarn, etc.

For all your retroreflective material needs from China, contact us now.

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