Why upgrade to ASTM Type XI sheeting?

See how our Type XI sheeting compares to Type IV sheeting

To help ensure road safety, we must consistently and effectively provide drivers with critical information and visual cues—particularly at night. This starts with bright, highly retroreflective road signs.

Sheeting that meets the ASTM Type XI standard is a highly retroreflective sheeting that uses microprismatic cube-corner elements to better reflect the headlights of newer vehicles, compared to the lower ASTM types. It provides greater luminescence for older drivers and, because it’s designed to be effective at wider angles than standard sign sheeting, it helps truck drivers see road signs at greater distances.

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons it’s time to upgrade to Type XI sheeting.

  • A car’s headlights illuminate falling snow on a road at dusk.
    Low-beam headlights are evolving

    Studies show that, over the years, low-beam headlights have evolved to be less glaring and deliver more light to the road. But this means they deliver less light to overhead traffic signs and signs on the shoulders of the road. This makes sign performance more important than ever. Upgrade your traffic sign specification from Type IV high intensity prismatic sheeting to 3M™ Diamond Grade™ DG³ Reflective Sheeting Type XI to compensate for the evolution of low-beam headlights.

    Read the study summary (PDF, 370 KB)

  • A large highway sign is highly visible over a busy highway.
    Standardized sheeting ensures sign performance

    Signs that use the same sheeting type for both the sign background and lettering provide optimized performance, deliver consistent contrast and improve legibility by reducing haloing and glare. All of these factors add up to help your signs perform consistently and efficiently and deliver optimum retroreflectivity in a range of conditions.

    See how to improve sign readability (PDF, 7.87 MB)

  • Cars speed past illuminated road signs on a highway at sunset.
    Visible signs improve road safety

    According to one study, brighter sign sheeting helped reduce the number of crashes by 25-46% (over a three- to six-year period) in locations where the more reflective sheeting was installed.¹ Type XI sheeting is brighter, more reflective and more conspicuous than standard beaded sheeting (or…than lower grade sheeting). This helps drivers see and react to road signs sooner and with greater confidence.

    Download the white paper on traffic sign brightness (PDF, 387.96 KB)

Why Type XI sheeting can save you money

Road signs fabricated with 3M™ Diamond Grade™ DG³ Reflective Sheeting, Series 4000 are designed to be durable. Even at the end of the 12-year warranty period, signs made with 3M Series 4000 can still outperform signs made with lower grade sheeting in brightness²—meaning they can elevate life-cycle savings in addition to helping improve road safety.

  • Maintenance workers attending to overhead road sign.

    Life-cycle cost analysis

    Choosing 3M Type XI Sheeting for your road signs can help you realize both long-term savings in addition to safety benefits. A life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) (PDF, 1.88 MB) can be useful for evaluating transportation investment decisions like critical road signage.³ Instead of focusing solely on the initial acquisition expenditures, this analysis accounts for and compares the relevant long-term costs of alternative methods for preserving effective road signs.

    What a life-cycle cost analysis of Type XI reflective sheeting shows is that signs fabricated using 3M Series 4000 Reflective Sheeting helps reduce the need for frequent sign replacements. This can lead to using fewer material and labor resources for maintenance over time. Additionally, for certain applications like guide signs, using 3M’s Type XI Reflective Sheeting can eliminate the need for external lighting, further reducing costs from electricity and maintenance. Ultimately, signs fabricated with 3M Series 4000 reflective sheeting serve as a worthwhile investment for your roads.

Help meet your safety needs with technology and performance

3M™ Diamond Grade™ DG³ Reflective Sheeting meets the ASTM Type XI road sign specification and other global sign specifications and is a super high-efficiency and versatile sign sheeting that agencies can use to help improve road safety.

  • Illustration demonstrating sign reflectivity from a car’s headlights.
    Technology that reflects more light

    3M’s full-cube retroreflective technology is more efficient and reflects more light than the conventional truncated cubes used in many Type IV and Type IX sheeting products. 3M™ Diamond Grade™ DG³ Reflective Sheeting uses 100% active-area retroreflectors that maximize reflected light, even on signs placed in less than optimal locations.

    Learn more about full-cube technology in the brochure: Are all Type XI sheetings the same? (PDF, 367 KB)

  • Illustration showing sign visibility from long range to drivers on the road.
    Performance for optimum retroreflectivity

    Road signs meeting the ASTM Type XI specification can serve a larger number of road users than signs meeting other sheeting standards due to ASTM Type XI reflective sheeting delivering the highest luminance to the driver across important sign viewing scenarios like overhead or to the left shoulder. All of these factors add up to help your signs perform consistently and efficiently, and deliver optimum retroreflectivity in a range of conditions.

    Learn more about road sign performance

Permanent and temporary Type XI sign sheeting products

See all 3M™ Diamond Grade™ Reflective Sheeting

3M™ Diamond Grade™ DG³ Reflective Sheeting is our premier reflective sheeting. 3M™ Diamond Grade™ DG³ Reflective Sheeting helps create more visible signs than lower grade sheeting, and more visible signs have been shown to cut nighttime accidents by up to 46%.¹


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  • References

    1. Ripley, D.A, Howard R. Green Company, ITE AB04H313, Quantifying the Safety Benefits of Traffic Control Devices - Benefit-Cost Analysis of Traffic Sign Upgrades, 2005 Mid-Continent Transportation Research Symposium Proceedings.
    2. ASTM D4956-19, Standard Specification for Retroreflective Sheeting for Traffic Control, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2019, www.astm.org
    3. Life-Cycle Cost Analysis Primer, US Department of Transportation, August 2002.