Every trade requires tools, and although we take these seemingly ordinary objects for granted, each tool possesses a history and purpose. Road construction crews require highly specialized tools: massive tractors to dislodge rock, displace earth and smooth blacktop, however, one of the most important tools among a construction crew’s arsenal are those which maintain a safe working environment: traffic control signs.
Traditionally, bulky metal signs were deployed to warn motorists of upcoming construction zones, however, these cumbersome and ecologically harmful signs have become ephemera of a bygone era: decor for tourist attractions and dive-bars. Recent technology has allowed for the plastic roll-up sign. Plastic signs are portable, highly visible, and extremely durable. Most importantly, they are easily recycled.
Reflective signs have existed since America’s Great Depression, the technology isn’t new, but remains novel. Light, and it’s complex properties, such as reflectivity, continue to spark new avenues of research and understanding of the natural world.
The breakthrough that allowed for reflective signs was ingenious, not genius, but ingenious. Harry Heltzer, an employee for 3M, didn’t exploit the luminous property of Radium, the fashionable element of the Nuclear Age: at the time of Heltzer’s breakthrough, Radium was used in luminous paints, nuclear panels, aircraft switches, clocks, and instrument dials. Instead, Heltzer mixed glass bead into the paint to reflect light. This technology is called retroflection. Unlike a mirror, which reflects what it sees, to oversimplify and anthropomorphize a mirrors complex physics, Heltzer’s retroflective signs merely reflect light, light is reflected back to its source, oncoming traffic. Heltzer’s retroflective signs may not have deployed the Nuclear Age’s most fashionable glowing element, Uranium, but glass beads don’t cause cancer.
This simple technology is still in use today and 3M remains the leading manufacturer of reflective orange signs. Moreover, Safety Product Inc is the nation’s most trustworthy provider of traffic control roll-up signs, none of which contain Radium. Safety Product Inc possesses a large inventory and has the roll-up sign for your crew.