SMALL AND LIGHT, NEW GENERATION’S RETROREFLECTOMETERS SOLVE ALL KNOWN DRAWBACKS OF EXISTING MODELS
Retroreflectometers are indispensable devices in evaluating optical performance or nighttime visibility of road retroreflective materials. Despite retroreflectivity being an essential indicator for the wise management of resources, for over 30 years persistent drawbacks have been discouraging technicians from the frequent use of such devices. Much like dinosaurs, standard retroreflectometers are large, heavy, and inconvenient for the work on the roads.
When assessing nighttime visibility of road markings (RL), traveling long distances is often necessary. Therefore, horizontal retroreflectometers are protected in large foam-lined carrying cases that easily exceed 20 kg. Needless to tell how uncomfortable that is, especially when it comes to air travels.
To develop the new Mini Retroreflectometer technology, Easylux needed first to understand 3 fundamental aspects: how retroreflectometers used to be, how they currently are, and how a handheld retroreflectometer should be.
How did retroreflectometers use to be?
One of the first horizontal retroreflectometer patents dates back to 1980. It was registered by a Roman citizen named Steffano Pallotta. It consisted of a system with a light source and a number of photo-sensors, settled according to a well-known geometry.
As shown in the figure, all components are packed in a large, heavy case.
How are classic retroreflectometers currently?
The current equipment only slightly differs from the 1980-patented model in regards of size and shape. However, there were significant advances on the optical constructions, especially in geometry and performance requirements from ASTM E1710 and EN1436 standards.
Many modern features have also been incorporated to the old, heavy (8 kg), and large (70 cm) box. Worldwide manufacturers pride themselves on having added color screens, a digital processor, internal memory, GPS, among other technological upgrades, to the old dinosaur of the 1980s, thus regarding themselves as innovators or state-of-the-art holders.
It is unfortunate that the main issue has not been given as much attention: large and heavy instruments are not safe for working on the roads and cause discomfort to users during both operation and traveling.
How should retroreflectometers be?
Handheld retroreflectometers should be small and light, and powered by common batteries that can be easily found in local markets. They should be suitable to be carried as hand luggage on an airplane. Furthermore, they should allow access to the measurement area, enabling the performance of tests under rain simulated conditions
(ASTM E2176), as well as the verification of material placement or material characteristics.
Horizontal instruments should be able to measure up to 15mm profiled marking without special procedures.
In the case of reflective studs, instruments should be capable of simultaneously working with 2 observation angles to include truck and bus drivers’ geometry.
Finally, vertical instruments should be capable of evaluating at least 4 different angles so that a single product can meet all ISO 20471 requirements.
The rise of a new technology
Easylux clearly realized how unsafe and unsuitable big and heavy instruments are for road visibility control. Easylux MiniReflecto handheld instruments materialize everything that retroreflectometers should be and represents the first technological innovation in this field over the past 20 years.
Independent test labs – with traceable international standards – have certified Easylux’s patented technology.
MiniReflecto technology is a watershed. No other retroreflectometer can match the performance, design, weight and reduced size of the new MiniReflecto. It simply can’t be done.
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