Reflective Fabric has a number of uses from personal
While it's widely used, the most practical application that has turned reflective tape into a multi-billion dollar industry is in high visibility safety clothing and personal protective equipment. Application is done through sew on reflective tape as well as heat press application with adhesive films that bond to the backing material used in high visibility work wear. Reflective technology first appeared in the early 20th century and was found on roadways, automobiles and bikes. They used retro-reflective backing material that contained small glass beads which caught the light and reflected it back to the light source. As time progressed, the technology moved forward. The production process became more refined, the beads became much smaller and allowed for a greater concentration and return of light. The decreased bead size allowed for the reflective tape to be able to be used on clothing. Clothing can be covered in glass beads and results will happen; however, they won't be the kind most people are looking for. When light would hit these beads, it would refract and scatter but it likely wouldn't reflect- at least not in any great way. In order for this technology to be used efficiently on both clothing and vehicles, two types of reflective materials were created. These are adhesive reflective fabric and sew on reflective, each with multiple layers to gather light and reflect it. To make this technology effective, a base of PVC (which is a strong thermoplastic resin) is used and the small glass beads are embossed. They are then given multiple layers of metallic flake backing to reflect the light. This is similar to the coating found on the back of a mirror. Glass beads are not the only option for reflective tape. Manufacturers also have the option of using microprisms. The microprisms are usually very popular as they return 80% or more of light back to the source due to their hard angles while the glass beads only return about 30%. With all types of reflective materials, examples include fire retardant reflective tape, the arrangement of the microprisms is calculated in order to provide the best reflective coverage. Sew on Vs. Adhesive - In any situation where a reflective tape uses adhesive backings, that bonding material is applied to the tape after the reflective material has been fully created. After the adhesive is applied, the reflective material is rolled up just like a big roll of tape. Depending on the industrial adhesive that is used, a manufacturer may have to line the tape with a non-stick paper backing to protect the lower layers of tape. Sew on tape is more popular and has no adhesive backing. It is often delivered in giant rolls directly to the manufacturer where it can then be cut to the needed lengths for garments. The rolls can be precut or they can be cut by after they are loaded into a cutting machine. Sew on is found on most reflective clothing due to the fact that adhesives aren't able to withstand severe weather or extreme temperatures, which are often found in places where reflective clothing is needed (such as house fires).