These days, the importance of colour management is recognised by nearly every industry. All sectors are preoccupied with the appearance of their products, where visual attractiveness and colour conformity are so important. Colour is the most immediately noticeable element of overall appearance and when provided with choice, consumers often opt for the products that - in their eyes - have the best appearance. In addition, in most manufacturing processes, colour is the most visible test of quality.
For every person with normal sight, the concept of colour is intuitive and is acquired by the infant at a very early age. ‘Perceived’ colour is associated with detection by receptors in the eye, followed by interpretation in the brain of the energy scattered or transmitted by the material in sight – i.e. colour is the cerebral interpretation of the observer. In addition, there are many variables that make up colourant conditions – is the sample flat or curved, glossy or matte-finished, smooth or textured? All of these variables affect our perception of colour and as a result, this makes communicating colour to someone else extremely difficult.
Demand is strong for plastic materials to offer improved performance, new effects and the latest colour trends. For producers of plastics, colour management is probably the most important part of overall quality control. The appearance of plastic moulded parts for example, depends on colour, gloss and texture - all of which can change in the moulding process due to improper mixing of resin and colourant, temperature and speed variations, and mould wear. There is therefore a strong requirement for technologically advanced colour management tools that can take all of these requirements into account.
The methods used to maintain colour consistency between suppliers, products and individual parts are referred to as colour management. The technology enables an exact analysis to be achieved, without ambiguity, making possible the reproduction and communication of colour. This intelligence enables visual assessments to be made during the quality control process, resulting in products getting to market faster.
Using reliable, precise instrumentation is the only way to objectify the perception of colour, ensuring that expensive mistakes are avoided in the production process. During the last few years, significant progress has been made in the design and manufacture of colour measurement instruments. Current equipment provides more stable and more repeatable measurements with greater accuracy. They are also faster, lighter and smaller. In addition, they offer the capability of analysing diverse samples, are more flexible in the processing of information, are easier to use and are frequently less costly.
Datacolor’s recently launched 45G Portable Spectrophotometer provides the performance required to effectively control colour, gloss and appearance in a complex manufacturing supply chain. The 45G is useful for inspection and control of painted surfaces, plastic parts, package prints, automotive parts and other manufactured goods, producing measurement results that correlate far better to visual assessment.