Canadian Plastics

Made to Measure

By Michael Legault   

Globalization has created a need to share corporate color information quickly, easily and securely among various locations. This demand for color formulation, measurement and control to be shared along the supply chain is the focus of much develop...

Globalization has created a need to share corporate color information quickly, easily and securely among various locations. This demand for color formulation, measurement and control to be shared along the supply chain is the focus of much development by color matching equipment manufacturers. As well as supplying the measuring equipment and formulation software, many have expanded their repertoires to include tools for sharing data and communicating color effectively among design and product development teams.

The newest GretagMacbeth color control technologies are connecting supply chains with speed and flexibility. “Our customers want more than just accurate color matches,” says Richard Knapp, product manager — color & appearance business unit. “They want to easily share data and quickly collaborate on color development with suppliers and customers anywhere in the world.”

Varying color measurement systems and different file formats often have prevented large-scale collaboration. GretagMacbeth’s newest software and hardware overcome these impediments by allowing interoperability with other systems and support for numerous file formats. Knapp says, “We recognise that many companies have a variety of color matching systems within their own enterprises and supply chains. So we’ve developed applications that help these systems work together more easily and optimize resources without compromising color accuracy.”

For example, GretagMacbeth’s latest Color iQC and Color iMatch software support numerous file formats. This means operators can share color data via the Internet regardless of software brand. A new job-driven interface follows users’ typical workflows making the system easier to learn and use.


GretagMacbeth has developed several features to help customers optimize Internet and electronic color communications. It enhanced the on-screen color application to include a texturing option. “Now, customers can obtain more true-to-life sample simulations and further speed the color approval process,” says Knapp.

Similarly, Datacolor’s Envision empowers designers with the ability to use digital sampling for creation and communication of “true” colors by applying them within the context of actual plastics applications and displaying them on screens calibrated for acccuracy.

Envision is one product in a suite of products called Spectrum from Datacolor International which support product innovation within the plastics industry. According to Datacolor president Terry Downes, “OEM manufacturers and their suppliers increasingly need color applications that support innovation as a key business driver. We developed a powerful new global platform to manage color in accordance with innovation management principles, including virtual color prototyping, and the quick exchange of creative color concepts.”

Datacolor Spectrum encompasses the Datacolor 245 spectrophotometer, Datacolor Check (a portable color QC solution that integrates high performance instrument standards with the flexibility of a PDA), and Datacolor Spyder2, an affordable monitor calibration tool.

As well, Datacolor Tools, a Windows-driven, graphics-based software, allows users to easily create color measurement files, set up pass-fail criteria, share data and generate customized reports.

The networking capability of EasyMatch OL Software allows operation of up to four HunterLab on-line spectrophotometer sensors using one server computer, and to use multiple client computers to talk to sensors through the server. EasyMatch OL provides unprecedented flexibility to collect, display and analyze color data from a HunterLab on-line spectrophotometer. Color and spectral data is displayed numerically in spreadsheet form or graphically in various types of graphs and plots.

BYK-Gardner’s new spectro-guide combines color and gloss measurement in one instrument (see photo p. 25). The spectro-guide is the only instrument to measure color (45/0 and sphere) and 60 gloss simultaneously in compliance with ISO, ASTM and DIN specifications. Color and gloss values are displayed together, making it easy to clearly determine the cause of a mismatch.

An audit trail is now also in demand for color matching. The BYK-Gardner Color Guide 10nm spectrophotometer is one of the first to feature traceability of the calibration to an international standard, BAM. The instrument downloads the readings to an Excel program and the certificate is automatically written up. The Color Guide is also has a built-in glossmeter traceable to NRC.

Testing made intuitive

Instron Corporation is now offering Bluehill software for material testing applications. Bluehill provides the most powerful and flexible material testing package available. The software has an intuitive, web-like design that users at all levels will find easy-to-use

Bluehill contains a number of application modules, including tensile, compression, flexural and peel, tear and friction modules. The tensile application module, for example, contains many test set-up parameters that make testing fast and efficient. The software also comes with a large library of standard test methods, eliminating the need to look up details of ASTM, ISO, EN or DIN standards.

Hounsfield Test Equipment is now marketing its products under the name of its parent company, Tinius Olsen. The company has launched two new plastic impact testers. Both models use a specially designed compound pendulum with interchangeable weights to perform Charpy and Izod impact tests across a wide range of energies.

The 92T is an open platform design providing easy access for multiple sample testing, while the IT503 is fully enclosed for situations where personnel or equipment in the vicinity would be at risk from sample destruction or the swinging pendulum.

A key feature of both machines is the high degree of measurement accuracy. They are capable of achieving a resolution of 0.03% of the pendulum capacity.

Tinius Olsen is also offering an upgradeable package for its MP600 modular melt-flow indexer. The upgrades allow increased automation through accessory packages, including PC control of multiple units, as well as automatic flow rate measurements using up to three different loads in one test. The enhanced capabilities include calculation and display of apparent shear stress, shear rate, and viscosity; calculation of melt density using a cut-off weight and built-in sub-routine.

The StressTel PocketMike thickness gauge has an integrated product design that combines instrument and transducer into a single package, not much larger than a cabled probe, allowing for single-hand operation. The instrument’s measuring range is from 1 mm to 250 mm. It is designed with a four-button operation, with automatic on-block probe zero and automatic gain features. The high-contrast backlit display can be mechanically and electronically rotated for ease of reading in any orientation.

Dynisco’s HDV3 System is a state-of-the-art instrument for the measurement of distortion temperature under load. It can be used with up to six test stations, containing digital gauges with LVDT transducers, which can be mounted in the system’s insulated stainless steel oil bath. A programmable, PID controller provides precise control of the temperature rise at rates of 50C/hr. or 2C/minute, up to a maximum temperature of 300C. Windows-based software provides the operator with complete control of the system and its operation.

The CEAST Smart Rheo 1000 is a new product for compact, high-performance bench capillary rheometry. The Smart Rheo 1000, with a maximum force range of 10 kN, has a reliable die design. Optional features include die swell detection and a system for feeding a nitrogen blanket. The Smart Rheo 2000, with a maximum force of 20 kN, is available with a single bore or twin bore barrel, and is comparable to the rheological top line of capillary rheometers.


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