Reflective tape – glass beads and prismatic

Reflective clothing is mandatory for workers in specific environments who are prone to risks due to lack of proper visibility. Generally speaking, reflective clothing is worn over regular or working clothing, but they can successfully substitute simple working equipment. Using reflective tape on working clothes is recommended and even required by law. This is the case when the worker needs to be easily spotted to avoid accidents (for examples in factories, airports, traffic, railways, construction sites, etc.).

It is important to know that there are two types of reflective tapes, depending on the manufacturing process. We have glass bead reflective tape and prismatic reflective tape. The first reflective tapes to be used were the glass bead ones. It wasn’t until the 1960s that Reflexite invented the prismatic tape. Did this mean that the prismatic tapes replaced the glass bead tapes? Certainly not. Both types of reflective tapes have passed the test of time and are still used nowadays. One of the reasons why the glass beads tape is just as used as the prismatic tape is the fact that they have different characteristics. These characteristics make them desirable for one use or the other.

The glass beads reflective tape uses microscopic glass beads to bend and reflect the light back to the source. The tapes made with glass beads are actually less reflective compared to the prismatic tapes. The imperfections explain this fact in the glass beads, as well as the curved surfaces. The efficiency of the glass bead reflective tapes is somewhere around 30%. This is not really a lot and certainly a disadvantage of this type of reflective tapes. However, it is also important to mention that the glass beads also present numerous benefits. Hence their intensive use nowadays. One of the multiple reasons why glass beads tapes can be chosen over prismatic tapes is their accessibility. In other words, the glass bead reflective tapes are much more straightforward to produce, hence less costly compared to the prismatic tapes. The reflective tape made out of glass beads can spread the light more compared to the prismatic tape. This explains why this type of reflective tape is not as luminous at greater distances. Most people prefer to use glass bead reflective tape on objects or clothing that are nearby. When it comes to considerable distances, the rule is always to use the prismatic type of reflective tape.