Spectrophotometers Facilitate Color Harmony in Car Interiors


Posted on August 21, 2017

In today’s rapidly evolving automotive industry, consumers are given options few ever dreamed of only a few years ago. Cars are now the sites of some of the most innovative technologies available. They are bringing performance and safety to extraordinary new heights and even transforming what we imagine cars to be. While we marvel at unprecedented performance and are comforted by advances in safety, aesthetics remain a critical component of automotive appeal. In fact, a 2014 study by AutoTrader on how consumers choose new cars found that it was “appearance more than anything else that appealed to participants.”1

Color harmony in car interiors may not be the first thing consumers think of when considering the aesthetic appeal. In fact, interior color matching is largely taken for granted precisely because car manufacturers have become so successful at achieving it. But when interior car components don’t match, consumers notice. Not only does this disrupt aesthetic appeal, it can also call into question the overall quality of the car; if a manufacturer has failed to get the basics right, what else have they missed? As such, it is imperative to seek out the best possible color measurement tools to ensure accurate color matching.

The Challenges of Color Harmony in Car Interiors

Creating color harmony in car interiors may be a fundamental building block in the manufacturing process, but it isn’t easy. A car interior is made up of hundreds of different parts that must co-exist in an aesthetically pleasing fashion and any one of which is vulnerable to unwanted color variation. These parts are also comprised of a wide variety of different materials, from smooth, glossy plastics to textured leathers to smooth wood, all of which has its own unique geometric properties that impact how color is experienced. Because components sit right alongside each other within cars, color mismatch quickly becomes evident.

Another major challenge to ensuring color harmony is the nature of the modern car industry itself. “The rapid globalization of industrial supply chains has created an urgent need to efficiently qualify materials at a variety of manufacturing sites across the world,” says Diane Geisler.

For example, a car may receive its headliner from a plant in Mexico, the leather trim for the seat from Turkey and the vinyl for the dashboard from the United States. All of these components must have the same color appearance to achieve the interior harmony intended by the designer and valued by the consumer.2  

Relying on visual assessment to determine color harmony is never an adequate color quality control method owing to its inherent variation. As noted in Plastics, visual assessment is “extremely subjective, as color vision deficiencies, mood, lighting, or even social pressure can affect perceptions of whether a color is acceptable or not.”3 And in global supply chains, where color information must be communicated across operators and manufacturing sites, reliance on visual assessment is simply impossible.

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