3M™ Reflective Materials are composed of wide angle, exposed retroreflective lenses bonded with a special polymer layer. In plain terms, microscopic glass spheres acting like mirrors are glued, with abrasion & wash resistant adhesive, to various materials that we can apply to apparel. The spherical shape of the lenses bounce light back towards the the viewer in a prism-like fashion. The effect is that the material “glows” when viewed from an angle close to a light source. The most common light source being your vehicles headlights. This means that more light is sent back towards the viewer, even if the person wearing the safety apparel is turned away.
Reflective Apparel manufactures with a variety of fabric’s that require different 3M™ Reflective Material solutions. Transfer films have adhesive backing that can be readily applied to a t-shirt. Unfortunately, the mesh fabric of a lightweight vest has holes and needs to have a reflective material already affixed to a solid fabric backing that is sewn onto the garment.
3M™ manufactures their reflective material by series number. You may notice slighty different, but similar material numbers due to advances in material releases. For example: to combat low quality knock-off material being sold under their name, 3M™ has begun to laser mark their material with a “holographic” 3M watermark. 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material – 8710 Silver Transfer Film and 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material – 8712 Silver Transfer Film are virtually identical, except the latter is marked. Certificates for The 3M™ Reflective Material can be found here.