3M, a global leader in reflective technology, recently uncovered a counterfeit conspicuity sheeting ring that was about to flood the South African market with underperforming products.
To eliminate the risk of these 3M-branded counterfeits – which don’t feature patented reflective and adhesive technology – from entering the market and risking the safety of other road users, 3M, together with the SAPS and SARS, seized and destroyed a 472-box shipment and has since offered advice on selecting the right reflective technology for every purpose.
“Cheap counterfeits do not provide the same quality of retro-reflective performance obtained from original 3M tape, which can lead to low visibility of the vehicle to other road users when they need it most,’ says Cynthia Bulekiwe, sales executive, 3M Traffic Safety Systems.
Studies and tests conducted by the Technical University of Darmstad, Germany, showed that over a 10 year period, trucks clearly marked with highly-reflective material are 30 times less likely to be involved in an accident than unmarked trucks.
Original 3M reflective conspicuity sheeting is designed to clearly outline the rear and sides of a vehicle making it visible for up to 1 000 metres at night, significantly reducing the risk of an accident resulting from poor visibility.
“Original 3M tape also complies with SABS ECR 104, which is legislated by law to be fitted onto all vehicles with a gross mass exceeding 3 500 kg, or longer than 7 metres, as well as trailers, caravans, minibuses, etc. Using counterfeit material renders the vehicle or caravan non-compliant which is a finable offence,’ says Bulekiwe.
One of the knock-off brands uncovered included the 3M Scotchlite® Diamond Grade conspicuity sheeting. The original product is a highly reflective micro prismatic sheeting with pressure sensitive adhesive liner and pre-mask that’s available in rolls and pre-cut strips for easy application.
This tape has physical features that are designed to assist customers in identifying it among counterfeit products, with the key differentiating factor being its quality and superior reflectivity. When compared, the original 3M tape will be much brighter.
Original 3M reflective tape is clean, bright golden yellow and clearly visible, and provides excellent night-time conspicuity, as well as daytime visibility. On application, it demonstrates a wide reflective angularity of up to 90 degrees, helping road users to identify vehicles and trailers at their most vulnerable positions when turning, crossing traffic or reversing.
According to Bulekiwe, it’s not only important to use original reflective technology but the adhesive that keeps it stuck to a vehicle also plays a crucial role in road safety. “For more than 60 years, 3M has invested in R&D and has developed adhesives that perform under extreme weather and withstand exposure to a broad range of chemicals and cleaning solutions.’
With ease of application, the material’s construction improves positioning and registration, reducing air bubbles and wrinkles. It also ensures the same quality performance of sheeting in both vertical and horizontal applications, with dimensional stability that results in zero shrinkage or expansion over time.
“We further support our customers with a manufacturer’s warranty, ensuring seven years of effective performance. Should a concern arise within the warranty period, our technical team is available to assist the customer, which is not the case with counterfeit tape,’ adds Bulekiwe.
Lennon Phillip, General Legal Counsel for 3M South Africa has urged customers or distributors who come across suspicious products to report this directly to 3M and the local authorities