Posted on September 20, 2017
Colored pencils are used by a variety of customers, ranging from professional artists who depend on colored pencils for their creative work to the millions of children who use colored pencils for school and play. To meet the needs and earn the trust of all users, manufacturers must integrate spectrophotometers in their quality control protocols to ensure an impeccable record of color consistency.
Colored Pencil Users Demand Color Consistency
Like any craftsmen, artists rely on their tools for their livelihoods. For those working with colored pencils to create artwork for direct sale, illustrations, marketing materials, or for other creative purposes, the quality of the pencils they choose has a direct impact on the quality of their work. Not only do they expect each new box of pencils they buy to be the same color as the last—they depend on it. As a result, manufacturers of colored pencils turn to spectrophotometers to ensure that each pencil they produce is exactly the color they intend it to be.
Of course, many users of colored pencils are not professional artists. In fact, the largest demographic among colored pencil users is children, for whom colored pencils provide new opportunities for experimentation and expression. Children, naturally, do not rely on their artwork to put food on the table (or to buy more art supplies); instead, they depend on their parents or teachers. What, then, convinces parents and teachers to choose one box of colored pencils over another? Brand recognition, founded upon the impression of quality. This impression of quality is largely built upon product consistency. Because color is the most noticeable attribute of colored pencils, color consistency is a vital driver of sales. As such, manufacturers employ advanced spectrophotometric technologies to reliably produce the perfect hues.
Spectrophotometry Detects Errors in Pencil Production
While colored pencils typically only require four ingredients to color their “lead” (extenders, binders, pigments, and water), inaccuracies in the production process or impurities in the raw materials can lead to off-color batches of pencils being produced.1 To control for this possibility and avoid defective product, manufacturers can analyze these materials spectrophotometrically prior to mixing. However, raw materials are not the only factor that can result in improper coloration. Incorrect temperature during mixing, inadequate mixing duration, and contamination of the mixing vat can all cause issues in final coloration.
To ensure that each batch of lead is the proper color before removing it from the mixing vat, manufacturers can test samples using spectrophotometric color analysis for the highest level of color quality control. By testing samples of raw and mixed materials, manufacturers save time, energy, and, ultimately, money by catching any off-color batches before they are pressed and rolled into cartridges, assembled into pencils, or packaged and shipped to distributors. Using the data provided by spectophotometric instrumentation, manufacturers able to rapidly identify and correct production problems to minimize waste and ensure that only products with accurate pigmentation are released into the marketplace.