How Process Monitoring Ensures the Perfect Match in Pigment Color Mixing of Paints and Coatings


Posted on July 6, 2016

Additive and Subtractive Color Mixing

Understanding the physical properties of color is the first step to developing a pigment mixing system. Pigment theory refers to the concept of additive and subtractive color mixing where the pigments relate to the subtractive color and light relates to additive color.1 Variations in colors depend on this theory of tinting and shading to achieve the desired color.

Analysis of pigment color mixing utilizes human eye technology, where all colors are represented by light and fall within the realm of primary colors. Pigments absorb and reflect light at specific wavelengths and this is how the eye perceives color. Instrumental analysis uses these same principles to quantify wavelengths and assign numerical values to color. Human perception of color is subjective, but spectral analysis can detect even the slightest changes in color for precise color matching capabilities.

Finding a Perfect Match with Absorption Measurements

Creating a perfect color match extends far beyond the reflected color that we see. Instrumental analysis is not simply assigning a color value a name, but understanding the absorption qualities of that formula to allow for repeatability at any given time and in any location. The physical behavior of pigments are complex and reflected color is often a combination of hues rather than the one specific color which is perceived. By measuring the absorption qualities of paints or coatings, a more accurate representation of color can be quantified and assigned a numerical value for repeatability. Spectrophotometers are designed to simplify this process with an easy-to-use compact tool.

Precise instrumental analysis is extremely important when paints or coating are applied at various locations and must come together in an exact match for developing a completed product. For example, in the automotive industry, many parts are manufactured separately, yet color compatibility is essential for ensuring quality and marketability. Spectral technology offers an easy and affordable solution for creating a repeatable set color pallet.

Developing a Color Index with Spectrophotometry

The paint and coating industry relies on specific sample matching technology to meet consumer demands. Developing a color index allows manufacturers to assigns all color formulations a numerical identification code to ensure color sample matching.2 By using a color sample index, manufacturers can provide a wide selection of color samples and ensure an exact match every time.

Specific color formulations can be quantified and stored using spectrophotometric instrumentation and software, simplifying the color mixing processes and sharing this information at any production facility. Instrumental analysis offers an easy and reliable method of quality control in final product development that can be repeated again and again.

Options and Variations in Color Measurement Instrumentation

Color measurement instrumentation is available in a variety of styles that are designed to meet specific industry needs. In the paint and coating industry, continuous process control and color formulation monitoring are necessary for quality control. Instrumental analysis provides the numerical values needed to correlate with visual color perception. 

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