There are several types of reflective tape with each varying in brightness, flexibility and conform ability. Some have a type rating like “Type 1 or 3” and some do not. Generally, tapes that are used as sign sheeting on DOT roads are known by a Type 1, 2, 3, 5 or 8 designation. Tapes used in other applications are not rated by type. SOLAS marine tape is an example of this. The different reflective tapes vary in brightness but also have some other characteristics that should be considered. The tape you choose will depend on your application, the surface, and how far away the tape needs to be seen.
The chart below lists the major types of reflective tape along with each tapes brightness and any special characteristics.
- The reflectivity factors below are in candelas and are measured at a -4 degree entrance angle. The factors are approximate and meant to be used as a comparison. The factors below are for white tape.
- To be CAD cut means that the material can or cannot be cut with a computer controlled vinyl cutter for the creation of letter, numbers, symbols, etc.
- Flexible means that the tape bends easily. Thin, flexible tape will bend around a radius easier.
- Stretchable means it will stretch to conform around complex curves. Only the flexible engineer grade and flexible high intensity will do this.
|Reflective Tape Type and Name||Brightness (white)||Special Characteristics|
|Engineer Grade Type I||80-100 Candelas||Flexible but only stretches a little. Can be CAD cut.|
|Flexible Engineer Grade Type I||80-100 Candelas||Flexible and will stretch. Especially when warmed. Can be easily CAD cut.|
|Super Engineer Grade Type II||185 Candelas||Flexible and will stretch a little. Can be CAD cut.|
|High Intensity Grade Type III||250 Candelas||Flexible and does not stretch. Difficult to CAD cut.|
|Flexible High Intensity Type III||250 Candelas||Flexible and will stretch. Can be CAD cut.|
|V92 Reflexite Prismatic||460 Candelas||Flexible and will not stretch. Can be CAD cut.|
|V98 Reflexite Prismatic||similar to v92||Flexible and will stretch slightly. Can be CAD cut.|
|Oralite 5900 High Intensity Prismatic Type IV||500 Candelas||Flexible and will not stretch. Difficult to CAD cut.|
|V82 Reflexite Prismatic Type 5||700 Candelas||Flexible and will not stretch. Can be CAD cut.|
|CRG Nikkalite Prismatic Type VIII||700+ Candelas||Stiffer, Thicker Film. Will not stretch. Cannot be CAD cut. Very similar to a diamond grade tape.|
|Reflexite SOLAS Prismatic Tape||1000+ Candelas||Thin and Flexible. Will not stretch. Extra aggressive adhesive. Also available in a sew on material.|
Specialty Reflective Tapes-
V97 Reflexite Fluorescent Yellow Tape – thicker than a V92 tape but still CAD cuttable. Reflects at about 325 candelas which is excellent for a yellow colored film. Used for the backs of fire trucks as Chevron Striping.
R99 Railcar Tape – Schoolbus yellow color (golden yellow) or White. White reflects at 600 candelas and the yellow reflects at 400. Flexible but will not stretch. Used to mark rail cars. Also known as FRA tape.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida , Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 22 years of experience in the reflective safety business. Specializing in vehicle accident and rear end collision reduction through increased visibility.