Canadian Plastics

What you see is what you get

By Cindy Macdonald, Associate Editor   

The development of tools for communicating color has now reached a point that digital sampling can replace physical sampling. The time and costs of the color matching process are reduced by accurately...

The development of tools for communicating color has now reached a point that digital sampling can replace physical sampling. The time and costs of the color matching process are reduced by accurately representing color on the screen of any PC.

“In our experience, a lot of time is wasted trying to get agreement on color,” says Ray Frugia, business area manager for Datacolor International, a manufacturer of color matching systems. “Our Colorite system recognizes that not everyone is a color scientist. It lets users correlate spectral data to an accurate visual representation on-screen.”

One compounder is using Colorite technology to overlay any color or effect onto a 3D screen image of a customer’s product. Customers view the object in any color, from any angle, and even view it against other competitors’ products to evaluate the effect of their color choice.

“In essence,” states Datacolor in a white paper on digital color communication, “everyone in the plastics industry now has desktop color communication at his or her disposal in ways that were not possible in the past.” Using digital sampling and new monitor calibration technologies, “the receiver gets more than a set of numbers — rather, the receiver sees precisely the color on-screen that corresponds to the numbers. Similarly, visual tolerances can be evaluated and set realistically. Color standards can now be archived digitally, eliminating problems associated with fading, transfer or handling.”


The digital color data is ready for input to color matching or color quality control software, as well as automatically available to the production facility or end-user.

“The imaging technology is the real breakthrough here,” says Frugia. Datacolor’s Colorite software calibrates any system on which it is installed so that a consistent, accurate representation of the spectral data is achieved, and the subjective element in monitor calibration is removed.

GE Plastics has also announced a proprietary monitor calibration technology, available on line through GE’s Colorxpress site ( “We want our customers to feel confident that when they select their colors online, they see the most accurate color representation,” says Greg Quinn, Colorxpress Services manager. The theory is that with a more accurate on-screen display, it is more likely the color customers choose online will be correct when they receive the chip, and thus it can speed up the color development process.

GE’s calibration tool corrects the Gamma of a computer monitor. Gamma is used to approximate the nonlinear behavior of the applied signal response of a CRT monitor. The user matches colored squares against checkered background squares to allow the software to generate a Gamma correction. This correction is used by GE Colorxpress to display GE colors at their proper intensity levels.

GretagMacbeth is also leveraging the Internet to improve color development and measurement through the supply chain. Its NetProfiler software consists of B2B Web service, software and certified standards that allow the user to automatically test, measure and profile instruments remotely over the Internet to GretagMacbeth’s standards lab.

“You can be confident that your color production in Location A is a match with the production in Location B,” explains Jim Vasconcellos, product manager for NetProfiler.

With NetProfiler, the user’s results are compared to the color standards and a profile is created to bring the system to a virtual zero color difference. This profile is inserted into the user’s measurement software via the Internet.

Basic tools upgraded

For improved efficiency and communications in quality assurance functions, X-Rite’s QA-Master 2000 software is available in multi-user network configurations. QA-2000 is an application for displaying, analyzing and storing spectral color data. The multi-user package provides true networking capabilities, allowing users in different locations to access a single database.

On the hardware side, HunterLab has introduced ColorQuest XE, a precise, reliable spectrophotometer for the plastics industry. Parameters such as color, transmission haze, opacity, colorant strength, APHA, yellowness index and whiteness index can be measured.

ColorQuest XE features diffuse/8 geometry and measures both reflectance and transmittance.


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