Reflective Patches and Decals – How they work

Nightfire Patches® and Retro-Reflectivity

Our reflective patches use the best reflective materials available. We incorporate retroreflective cloth and vinyl products that bounce light directly back at the source. Conventional materials scatter the light. Too little light bounces back. That’s why even a white t-shirt is lost in the dark just a few yards away. Our products are different. They take all of the light and direct it back, wasting as little as possible regardless of the angle. That’s right, even from the side, our patches and decals light up bright at night.

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 ANSI approved retro-reflective materials available in manufacturing our copyrighted designs. Learn More about ANSI.

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/Decals Used by Police and Fire

Nightfire Patches; uses the same retro-reflective material used by fire departments, police, and paramedics. Emergency service groups 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/ Even a small amount of light will bounce back toward its source. Look at road signs. You can see them at night because of retro-reflective vinyl. Nightfire Patches uses this technology to make you more visible at night with style.

Just how bright are Nightfire Patches®?

Retro-reflectivity is measured in candlepower. Official data says white clothing reflects up to 0.3 candle power. A vehicle license plate comes in at a level of 50. A conforming ANSI material like ours has 500 candle power! This chart shows the relationship between reflective index (candlepower), and the distance from which it can be seen.

retroreflective diagram showing effectiveness at distance

Learn more about retro-reflectivity here.

How do Reflective Nightfire Patches® do it?

Nightfire Patches; researched all materials with retro-reflective claims, testing each one, and narrowing the field to two with true retro-reflectivity. Using a glass bead, or cube corner prism principal, these materials bounce light off the rear face of the glass bead, or faces of the prism. The technology consistently directs light back to its source, transforming Nightfire Patches; into bright, 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.

Want to know more about ANSI? Here is ANSI Made Easy by 3M. Click here.