Retroreflective Materials

Retroreflectivity is the scientific term that describes the ability of an object to redirect light back to its source. A typical example of Retroreflectivity is seen when the light from automobile headlights are redirected to the drivers eyes from traffic signs at night. Examples of retroreflective materials are traffic control signs, vehicle markings; and personal safety items such as vests.

For over 55 years ORAFOL has been a pioneer and technology leader in the development of the brightest retro-reflective materials in the world.

Retroreflective materials use one of two technologies to provide the retroreflection: glass-beads or cube corner microprisms.

Glass Bead Technology

The simplest retroreflector is a glass sphere or bead. Glass bead reflective technology is over 70 years old.

When a light beam is directed at it, a portion of the light passes through the front surface and is refracted towards the center of the rear surface where it bounces off the mirrored back surface of the bead; it is then reflected back through the front surface of the sphere and redirected back to the source of the light. Glass bead technology is approximately 28% efficient in providing retroreflection.

Glass bead retroreflective materials may be either exposed or encapsulated. In exposed glass bead materials the retroreflective elements are not protected and as these materials have lower performance in rainfall and are easily damaged from abrasion. Encapsulated glass bead materials have a protective layer that reduces damage from abrasion and increases rainfall performance.

Glass Bead Technology

Cube Corner Microprism Technology

A more efficient retroreflector is the cube corner microprism or microprismatic material. Cube corner microprismatic products are typically 66% efficient in providing retroreflection, 2-3 times brighter than glass bead reflective. Our ORAFOL microprismatic products are the brightest on the market today!

A cube corner microprism utilizes total internal reflection to direct light back to the light source. Incoming light enters the three sided prism and bounces off each facet and is directed back to the source of the light. ORAFOL microprismatic material has 47,000 prisms per square inch.

Microprismatic retroreflective materials have a smooth sealed outer surface, so the retroreflective elements are protected. This provides abrasion resistance, and enables the material to work when wet.

prismatic technology