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High Visibility: Prismatic Tape vs. Glass Bead

prismatic tape vs glass beadsThere are two types of retro-reflective materials available that meet the ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 Standard on High Visibility Safety Apparel: Silver Glass Bead retro-reflective material and Prismatic retro-reflective material.
The silver glass bead material is flexible, lightweight and can be a good solution for many kinds of work environments. The reflectivity (light returned to the headlights) is accomplished using microscopic glass spheres embedded either in a heat activated adhesive or on fabric. One of the drawbacks of this technology is its ability to perform well when under wet conditions where it can lose most of its reflectivity when wet. In fact, its visibility simply starts disappearing before your eyes – and more importantly, to oncoming traffic. Water causes the reflective optics to scatter the light, rather than reflect it back to an approaching motorist – when visibility is most critical. Additionally, the glass beads are not protected from abrasion and are easily worn away by contact with seatbelts and normal work tasks.
Prismatic retro-reflective material (PRM) is a different technology that utilizes thousands of micro-prisms that are protected by a transparent plastic film. Prismatic retro-reflective materials are far more efficient at returning light to drivers’ headlights than glass beaded products. They perform exceptionally well under wet conditions and avoid abrasion because of this protective layer. One of the drawbacks with PRM’s can be experienced under extremely cold conditions. Like any vinyl material, it can become stiffer than glass beaded material. In addition it is heavier than traditional glass beaded material. Prismatic materials are available in fluorescent colors for added visibility during dusk, dawn, and inclement weather conditions when additional conspicuity is most important.
Before you determine which material to use, do a quick analysis of your use and then base your decision on the performance characteristics of the material. Very simply – if you work under wet conditions, or experience a lot of abrasion in your job (baggage handler) then chances are you’d be much better off using prismatic reflective material. If your primary objective is lightweight and durability and wet conditions are not an issue, you’re probably better off with glass beaded material.
source: www.MLKishigo.com

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