Retroreflective Thread and Yarn

Bright Bike V2.0

This is an old post that got stuck in my drafts box… (oops).

Along with Alan Paukman and Jacob Mellinger of Nikolai Rose, we have been making experiments with trying to make retroreflective fabric. Jacob writes:

I did some simple tests yesterday with the yarn dyer. He wanted to open everything up and get an idea of what we’re dealing with.
We mixed together a very small batch of the 3M ink kit and watered it down heavily to bring it closer to a dye.

In the picture below, here is what’s going on:

Left: Black cotton yarn. First test, some ink (part A), lots of water, very few beads (part B), no coupling agent aka hardcore chemicals (part C). Quickly ironed for partial heat set.

Center: Black cotton yarn. Second test, more ink/water ratio, many more beads, a dash of part C. No heat set.

Right: Grey wool yarn. Third test, same mix as the second test with most of the water poured off the top, leaving a thicker mix of ink/water and a high concentration of glass beads. No heat set.

Pretty cool, I think. Though they were not properly heat set, the pigment took pretty well to the yarns. Even on the third test it didn’t get too stiff or crusty, despite the heavy proportions. Although without heat setting it, the glass beads do rub off some.