Why take this lesson?
IR reflective and Thermal films?
What are they and why does it matter to you?
For sure each film will ID you to protect against friendly accidents. But grasping how they ID is important to assure a safe, successful, operation. In this lesson, we will cover the key differences you should know about as you get acclimated to these types of products.
Each film is invisible infrared
IR reflective and Thermal films are part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum: Near, Mid and Far Infrared. These infrared energies are invisible to the human eye. To view them, you need a high tech camera, most often called a NVG, NOD, FLIR, or Thermal device.
While technically thermal is part of the infrared spectrum, our common definition for IFF protection distinguishes infrared from thermal. IR reflective or Infrared is from the “Near” side of the spectrum. Thermal is from the “Mid and Long” side of the spectrum. For more clarity: a basket of 3 different apples is called a basket of apples but each apple has a different flavor and appearance, yet they are all apples. The same holds true here… all films are infrared but have a different appearance and function.
Below are 4 key differences to consider when choosing your IFF (friend or foe) protection.
1. Different cameras detect IR and Thermal films
Thermal film is detected by a Thermal Imaging Device or Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR).
IR reflective commonly called “Infrared” is detected by Night Vision device. Most popular is the NVG.
2. Inside or Outside?
Thermal film is most effective when used outside. It works best when the film looks towards a clear sky. Detection 24/7.
Infrared film is effective inside or outside. But it is hard to see in well lit areas. The darker the better for your IR glow to stand out.
3. How your eye views the infrared signature
Thermal film projects a black and white contrast to stand out from its surroundings.
Infrared film has a luminescent glow. The glow detects who is who and where they are.
4. Environmental Factors
Thermal film is detected through smoke, fog and sandstorms. Water will temporarily disable film but will not damage it.
Infrared film while versatile under most conditions, does lose reflection or glow in rain, smoke, fog.
Yes, Thermal and IR reflective films are from the same basket of apples!
But their distinct differences and functions are important to understand in order to choose the correct “infrared” for your purpose. It matters to your safety and operation completion.