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reflective vinyl prints which shine brightly at night

There are two broad varieties of print material – one with names that require an explanation, and the other one which are pretty self-explanatory. Reflective Vinyl belongs to the second category. The unique property of this print product is its reflective nature. It throws light back. So the messages or advertisements printed on reflective vinyl are visible at night or in low light conditions. In fact, depending upon the brand that you use, these prints are at times visible from almost half a kilometer away.

How Does Reflective Vinyl Work?

All of have seen the signs put up on highways and tool booths. But if you have ever observed, these signs are not light from within. And yet, they are easily visible even in the darkest time of the day, when our car’s headlight falls on them. Generically, people refer to these boards as radium signs. Have you ever wondered how reflective prints work?

Walk up close to the Pune Municipal Corporation’s road signs and you will see a honeycomb structure on the surface. Small prisms / glass beads are embedded within each of these honeycomb cells. There is a printable coating above this cell grid. What happens is this. We use our high resolution inkjet photo printers to print messages or images on top of the reflective print media. Our eco-solvent inks are all transparent in nature. So when light falls on this print, the prisms beneath reflect the same.

reflective prints on 3M HIP high intensity prismatic films which contain lens to reflect light at night when light shines on them

The effect of are retro reflective prints

  • During the day, the print works like any standard signboard
  • At night, when light falls on the signboard, its reflective property ensures that the message is easily visible

On added benefit of reflective vinyl prints is that, unlike back-lit glow sign boards, you do not need electricity or relatively complex light boxes. This makes the use of reflective prints ideal in situations where there is no easy access to power or where the recurring costs of electricity and light box maintenance is an issue.

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traffic signs and direction boards use retro reflective vinyl prints for night visibility

Types of reflective vinyl available

Orchid Digitals provides two primary variants of reflective prints:

  • Prints on 3M-HIP: HIP stands for ‘High Intensity Prismatic’ film. 3M, the world famous engineering and adhesives company has pioneered the technology of manufacturing prismatic reflective films. They are the de facto leaders in this field. Most road building firms insist on the use of 3M films because of their extremely high quality and high viability. 3M HIP films are premium grade and their great performance makes every penny spent on them, worthwhile. ‘Retro reflective’ prints is another trade name for this media.
  • Less Expensive Chinese variant: As the name suggests, this media is less expensive. Its almost 1/3rd the cost of original 3M films. But this saving comes at the cost of performance. Chinese radium films are reflective in nature but do not have the strength and high reflective performance of 3M – HIP. These radium prints are used to create budget signs, stickers and decals.

Radium reflective prints on rigid panels

To create a complete sign, the radium prints or 3M HIP film needs to be mounted on a rigid but light weight sheet. Orchid Digitals provides 2 options here…

  • You can opt to have the prints mounted on 5mm thick sunboard / foam sheet. This is a low density but rigid plastic sheet. It imparts a flat and even surface to the prints. Sunboard can easily be drilled on walls.
  • The prints can also be pasted on sheets of ACP or aluminium composite panels. These are rigid high density rubber sheets sandwiched between thin aluminium foils. The rubber lends strength to the panel and the aluminium foil gives an extremely flat and finished surface. Also, ACP sheets don’t rust. Additionally, they are extremely strong and light weight. Due to their durability, ACP sheets are the preferred choice for outdoor applications like direction boards and road signs.

Price of reflective vinyl prints

The price of 3M HIP prints / retro reflective prints and radium prints are given below…

MediaLaminated 3M HIP printsChinese radium prints
Print on a adhesive backed roll240/- psf90/- psf
Print mounted on a 5 mm thick sun board panel300/- psf150/- psf
  • psf = per square foot
  • All above rates attract 18% GST extra

Real-Life Applications of Reflective Vinyl Prints

Reflective vinyl is the ideal choice of material to be used for the following purposes:

  1. Signage on road for night-time and foggy conditions
  2. Direction boards
  3. Distance markers
  4. Speed-breaker, parking, and danger indication boards
  5. Indicators for establishments such as food plaza, toll plaza, etc.
  6. Parking stickers and vehicle permits

They are also used for safety signs like:

  1. Fire signs
  2. Emergency exit signs
  3. Safe assembly signs
  4. Safety signage strips running across the body of commercial and heavy vehicles