In the textile industry we’re often focused on what we do. Not only does that focus help us to provide better service to our customers but it helps us continue to refine our products. We don’t often look outside of our industry but it’s something we should do more often. Those outward views provide inspiration and show us how our products, like reflective tape, can be used in ways we don’t typically consider.
Different regions use products in various ways as well. The United States has such a wide use for reflective tape in several different markets. The A+A conference we attended helped me realize that innovation can come from anywhere and it’s the ingenuity of consumers and the users of our product that help realize what our next steps might be in the textile industry.
Reflective Tape – Beyond the Safety Gear
Reflective tape was designed to improve the safety and visibility of the wearer but given the retro-reflective nature of the tape there are so many ways it can be used. Some are practical, and rather obvious, while others can make you question why you’d never thought of that yourself.
While the tape can be used in various environments, the retro-reflective properties are typically the same. The material design captures the light when it hits the prisms or glass beads within the tape then sends the light back to its source. Placement is important because you need that line of site to achieve proper reflection.
Applications for Reflective Tape
Clothing and safety gear designed for high visibility aside; there are numerous applications for reflective tape. The bonding method used will vary depending on the material in which the reflective tape will be applied. Some materials can be sewed into while others, like various metal components, require a strong industrial bond or adhesive.
Reflective Tape on Signs
Reflective tape is often used on signs around construction zones and other temporary road signs to draw attention to something, particular to give warning to motorists as well as pedestrians around a highway. Businesses have been known to use reflective tape on advertisements and billboards to capture the attention of vehicles at night.
Automotive Reflective Tape
Reflective tape is commonly used on utility and emergency vehicles to improve the visibility of those vehicles in order to improve safety during emergency response situations or events that require work on the roadway. However, other types of recreational vehicles utilize reflective tapes for “eye-candy”, or to decorate a vehicle. While attractive striping can be done with reflective tape, it serves a dual purpose for all-terrain vehicles that are used for hunting or off-road recreation – particularly along heavily wooded trails.
Boats also use reflective tape along the railing. Safety equipment used on open water typically has heavy duty reflective tape sewn into vests or adhered to preservers to help improve visibility of a victim in the event of an accident.
Consumer Uses for Reflective Tape
Give a man enough free time and he’ll figure out a dozen ways to use interesting and valuable materials, and reflective tape is no exception. Reflective tape has worked its way into the fashion world as well as the recreational world. Designers use reflective tape to create new accessories and design elements in modern styles in pants, jackets, boots, shoes, shirts, handbags and even hair accessories.
For those who love the outdoors and fresh air, hikers and campers have long been finding useful ways to work reflective tape into their gear not only for safety (in case they get lost) but also for visibility to make locating the camp easier.
Simple flags of fabric made with reflective tape can help mark trails and traveled routes to return to vehicles, and frequent travelers can use durable reflective tape to mark their favorite hunting or fishing spots, game trails, geocaches and more.
When we see the way consumers use our products, it helps us devise better ways to enhance our product lines. In the end we’re just filling a need, so it pays to see how the world uses our products in order to refine our own solutions and product lines.