At 3M we seek to observe, understand and solve. What we believe is simple: We are people committed to helping other people. Every day we help tackle problems, big and small, in pursuit of our vision to improve every life.

The science of being seen

August 4, 2020

Helping to keep school children, road workers, runners and pedestrians safe in everyday low-light conditions requires using the most advanced retroreflective technology.

Being visible in low-light conditions is critical for countless people. From children going to school in the pre-dawn hours or coming home at dusk, to road crew workers, EMT and law enforcement, cyclists and runners…the list goes on.

3M is a pioneer in developing the science behind retroreflection and has been advancing the technology in new and groundbreaking ways for almost 70 years. 

The key is retroreflectivity, a technology that returns light rays to their origin with very little loss in brightness. This makes the material that includes retroflective technology appear brightest to an observer near the original light source — such as the approaching headlights of a truck or car — giving early warning to motorists that a person is ahead.

“I’m inspired by the safety solutions we develop. Safety is part and parcel with helping people live longer. What can be more important than that?”

Cordell Hardy, 3M Technical Director

3M™ Scotchlite™  Reflective Material is the culmination of almost seven decades of 3M innovation. It not only offers industry-leading visibility in clothing and equipment to help people stay safe, but constant advancement of the technology by 3M scientists ensures it leads in comfort, breathability and durability. 

The material is also designed to remain discrete indoors, so jackets and other garments are more visible when you need them to be and less visible when you want to blend in.

“Whether it’s a firefighter’s turnout gear or a running suit that you would buy at a store, the products that I work on help stay safe by making them easier to be seen, especially at night,” says Cordell Hardy, 3M Technical Director who led the team that refined 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material. “I’m inspired by the safety solutions we develop. Safety is part and parcel with helping people live longer. What can be more important than that?”


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