Reflective Patches and Decals – How they work

Nightfire Patches® and Retro-Reflectivity

The secret to great reflective patches is retro-reflectivity. Retro-reflectivity is the correct term given to something that has the ability to return light back to its source.

Animated example of day versus night with nightfire reflective patches

Many materials appear to have some small degree of reflectivity, but retro-reflective materials bounce the greatest amount of light back toward a light source. This makes them startlingly visible in dark conditions. Some patches claim to be reflective, but only retro-reflective materials can be seen from more than a few feet away at night. Nightfire Patches; uses the highest quality retro-reflective materials available in manufacturing our copyrighted designs.

Light hits normal material and scatters.                      Light hits retro-reflective material and bounces straight back. This is why it is easy to

Scattered Reflection                                                         Retro-Reflection

Reflective Patches Used by Police and Fire

Nightfire Patches; uses the same retro-reflective material that many emergency service groups, like fire departments, police, and paramedics use–in new designs that you’ll want to wear! Emergency service groups often have markings and tape on their uniforms that shine a brilliant white when hit with television camera lights or headlights. This is retro-reflective material at work! Wearers of this material become far more visible in dark or low-light conditions, as even a small amount of light will bounce back toward its source. Drivers know that many road signs are highly reflective-these are another example of retro-reflective materials. Nightfire Patches; uses this technology to make you more visible at night, without sacrificing your style or attitude.

Just how bright are Nightfire Patches®;?

Retro-reflectivity of materials used in Nightfire Patches; is measured in candlepower. Official data says that white clothing performs up to 0.3 candle power. A vehicle license plate comes in at a level of 50. A conforming retro-reflective material has 500 candle power! This is a direct relationship between reflective index (candlepower), and the distance from which it can be seen as in this drawing.

retroreflective diagram showing effectiveness at distance

How do Nightfire Patches®; do it?

Nightfire Patches; researched all materials with reflective claims, testing each one, and narrowing the field to two with true retro-reflectivity. Using a cube corner prism, or glass bead principal, these materials reflect light off the faces of the prism, or the rear face of the glass bead. This sophisticated technology consistently directs light back to its source, transforming Nightfire Patches; into brilliantly white reflective and visible surfaces at night!

Glass Bead retroreflective technology                       Glass Pyramid retroreflective technology

Nightfire Patches; don’t absorb light like regular patches; they reflect light back toward the original light source! Most materials, even shiny plastics or metallic threads, absorb light rays or scatter them in random patterns. Brilliant daytime colors dissolve into darkness in gloomy weather or at night, only reflecting light at a few feet. Imagine how close a moving vehicle has to get to be able to see you!

To learn how these materials work, check out 3M™ Scotchlite™ Material



This approach causes a large amount of reflected light to shine directly back to the original light source and appears the brightest.

Diffuse Reflection example

Diffuse Reflection

This type of material results in very little light returned to the source. Light is scattered as it hits the surface.

Mirror Reflection example

Mirror Reflection

With a mirror, light reflects at the same angle as it comes in from the source. Light is not returned to the source.