A quick search on the internet will bring you a thousand retailers who sell reflective stripes for clothing and gear. However, you may search for the rest of your natural-born life before finding a sewing machine dealer who can determine the machines necessary to set up your safety wear operation. There are a handful of companies in the United States who are taking advantage of the ever-growing need for reflective safety wear for workers in industries that require high visibility. These organizations come from different verticals in some cases, but most are already in the workwear industry. One of these companies, a customer of ours, came to us with fully assembled work apparel that they purchased from a factory in South America. We were obliged to help them construct an assembly operation to attach reflective stripes to the shirts, and pants.

There are three places on the collared work shirt where the reflective material must be, and one area on the pants. However, it can be noted that the machines used in this operation can do even more. We ended up prescribing four new Juki machines for the tasks at hand. Beyond that, custom folders were created to feed the reflective material in a straight line into the machine while the clothing is being fed through the sewing area. The requirements for our client included a one-inch stripe across the back of the shirt, a larger colored stripe across the chest and the same around the arm. For each of these steps, we acquired a specific machine. Finally, we got a post bed set up to attach the strip down the seam of the pants.

The three machines used to produce the shirt are the; Single-needle flatbed, for placing the reflective material across the chest. A seam must be made down one side, and then back up the other. The double-needle flatbed is used for connecting the one-inch strip across the back, near the shoulders. We use a double-needle here, set at ¾ inch width, so the operator can sew both seams simultaneously. This makes for quick work. The last operation is for the stripe that wraps around the sleeve of the shirt. You may have guessed by now that we use a cylinder bed for this. It takes some skill on behalf of the operator, but it makes a really clean seam attachment when done properly. Fortunately, the pants only require a post bed for the vertical seam stripe. This maneuver requires less skill than the armband placed by the cylinder bed, but this still isn’t a rookie attachment. As for other types of stripes on the pants that were not required in this specific operation, the cylinder bed machine could be easily used to create the band abound the cuff of the pant, as seen on aircraft ground operations workers. 

Without the custom attachment, the idea of feeding the roll of reflective tape in a controlled fashion is only a dream. That’s where we have really created the possibility for your retro-reflective tape operation. Retrofitting High-Visibility safety apparel (HVSA) can be simple with the right operators and the right configuration of industrial sewing machines. And there is no doubt about the human lives that will be saved in this business that started back in London during work on the tunnel system. For a better idea of the business to be conducted in this vertical look into OSHA requirements and regulations by The Federal Highway Administration. For more information on how to get up and running with your own retro-reflective stripe operation, contact Mike Principe at our office phone at 1-800-241-4953.