The difference between retroreflective and reflective is all in the title of that “retro” term. A reflector reflects every light that comes to its surface like a mirror. But a retro-reflector reflects the light to its source only.
What is the Difference Between Retro-Reflective and Reflective
Reflective means a surface that reflects all lights that come on its surface. For example, a mirror is a reflector. It has a reflective surface. What we see in the mirror all are reflections of the lights.
Retro means backward. A retroreflector is a bit different from a reflector. In a retro-reflective surface like traffic signs, it reflects only to its source when light falls on the surface. So it can only be seen when you give light to its surface.
Angle of Reflection
In a reflective surface, the angle of reflection is equal to the angle of incidence. So the light falls into the reflective surface, then it goes back with the same angle.
When light falls into the surface in a retro-reflective character, it only reflects a perpendicular angle, making the incidence angle 0. So that, other than the source, others can’t see the reflections.
Direction of Reflection
The light rays reflect in a different direction from the direction they fall upon the surface on a reflective surface. So the light rays don’t go back in the same order they come to the surface.
On a retro-reflective surface, the light rays go back to the source of light rays. So they don’t reflect in different directions. Instead, they go back in the same order where they came from in the first place.
Night Time Visibility
Reflective is not much visible in the nighttime. There is no sunlight or surrounding light. Usually, it is dark at night. If you light to a reflector at night, it will reflect scatters lights, and you won’t see much because of flashes of light rays.
But retro-reflective is much visible in the nighttime and low light conditions. You will see the signs on the road on a retro-reflective surface or anything you want to know if it has retro-reflective materials.
Reflective is more visible in daylight. If you light to a reflector in the day, it will reflect and see the reflective material more clearly.
But retro-reflective is not so visible in daylight. It stays like any regular sheet because of the sunlight.
Usages of Both Reflectors
Reflectors have many usages used mainly for mirror purposes, like a mirror in front of a shop, car mirror view, runway signal man’s overcoat, etc.
Retroreflectors have various purposes like fashions, traffic signs, straps on runway signal man’s overcoat, biker’s helmet, etc. Apart from styles, retro-reflective is very important for traffic signs and nighttime drivers.
The advantages of reflectors are many; we can see ourselves in a mirror. We use the mirror to see something behind us. That’s why cars have a mirror view and a side mirror view to see something that isn’t seen from our eyes.
The retro-reflector has its advantages at night time. At night, the drivers can see the traffic signs even in the darkness if there is a retroreflector. It helps to prevent many accidents on roads.
Probably they both have one disadvantage that their usage is vice versa. You can have the advantages of retro-reflective in nighttime only.
Same way, the reflector has its functionality only in the daytime. You can’t use it for both or as a substitute for another.
We can see above that reflectors and retroreflectors are essential in their path. Reflective and retro-reflective are used chiefly for caution, sending a signal, or noticing purposes.
Cause of these cautious, many accidents is prevented on roads. Now, the drivers can see other vehicles coming from other directions or seeing the traffic signboards.
Q: Where do we need a retro-reflector?
Ans: We need a retro-reflector where it is necessary to attract people’s visual attention in the night or low light environment for safety and precautions.
Q: Can reflector be a substitute for Retro Reflector?
Ans: No, it can’t. Cause it is different from retro-reflector. They can’t be used instead of one another.
Q: Why do traffic signs have a retro-reflector?
Ans: Traffic signs have a retro-reflector. People can see the sign when the lights of vehicles hit the sign; light comes reflected the source, means to the car. As a result, the driver can see the signs clearly in the dark of night.
Q: What is Retro Reflectives made of?
Ans: Retro reflective are made of tiny glass beads that reflect the source of the ray.
Lastly, reflector and retro-reflector have their purposes. Riders use reflective tape and retroreflective tape on their helmets to increase visibility. So, these products cannot be overlooked. Depending on the time, you need to choose whether it is reflective or retro-reflective.