Watch: "Inside DayGlo: The world's most colorful factory"
The brightest colors in America -- from toys to traffic cones to the clay disks in skeet shooting -- all come from one factory in Cleveland, Ohio. The DayGlo Color Corp. has operated from the same street in Cleveland since its founding in the 1950's. As this video tour shows, it may be the most colorful factory in the world.
Courtesy of the American Chemical Society, this episode of the series Bytesize Science focuses on the plant that produces 4.5 million pounds of fluorescent pigment annually. As you might expect, dealing with that much brightly colored dye has turned the DayGlo building into something that looks like the back room of Willy Wonka's factory.
The colors themselves are the product of DayGlo founders Bob and Joe Switzer. In 1957, the two devised a way to pass produce what we now know as DayGlo by combining vibrant colors with a type of plastic. This compound is then finely ground up and shipped to manufacturers.
The video above also offers an explanation for why fluorescent colors are so vivid. The colors we perceive with our eyes is the reflection of certain wavelengths of light coming off an object. A banana, for example, is yellow because bananas absorb all the colors of light that aren't yellow. Fluorescent objects are different because they also absorb a certain amount of ultraviolet wavelengths as well. These waves are invisible to the naked eye, but a portion of their energy reflecting off a fluorescent object gives it its glowing color.
Check out Bytezise Science for more videos of the wonders of chemistry.
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