Retroreflective sheeting is flexible retroreflective material primarily used to increase the nighttime conspicuity of traffic signs, high-visibility clothing, and other items so they are safely and effectively visible in the light of an approaching driver's headlamps. They are also used as a material to increase the scanning range of barcodes in factory settings.
The sheeting consists of retroreflective glass beads, microprisms, or encapsulated lenses sealed onto a fabric or plastic substrate. Many different colors and degrees of reflection intensity are provided by numerous manufacturers for various applications. As with any retroreflector, sheeting glows brightly when there is a small angle between the observer's eye and the light source directed toward the sheeting, but appears nonreflective when viewed from other directions.
Some applications include:
High-visibility clothing frequently combines retroreflective sheeting with fluorescent fabrics in order to significantly increase the wearer's visibility from a distance, which in turn reduces the risk of traffic-related accidents. Such clothing is commonly worn as (often mandatory) PPE by professionals who work near road traffic or heavy machinery, often at night or in low-visibility weather conditions, such as construction workers, road workers and emergency service personnel. It is also commonly worn by cyclists or joggers to increase their nighttime visibility to road traffic.
Retroreflective sheeting for road signs is categorized by construction and performance. There are several grades of retroreflective sheeting which include the three major grades: engineer grade, high intensity prismatic (HIP) and diamond grade. Within these categories are further delineations based on material used and visibility distance. Diamond grade typically has the greatest distance for visibility of the three major categories.