All Posts By

Michael Huda

Color Management, Color Measurement 201

The Secret to Raw Material Sourcing in Textiles

In an effort to reduce costs and keep up with demand, many U.S. textile and apparel companies are turning to global markets for their raw materials. According to a recent study by The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, this trend has been spurred by trade agreements, and it’s putting a lot of pressure on manufacturers to find suppliers with high quality raw materials at low prices.


Since final products are only as consistent as its raw materials, working with a variety of sources can be challenging. Luckily, these challenges can be fixed with a few simple color management tools. Read on to learn how adding a few simple tools to your color management arsenal can make it economically feasible to source from anywhere in the world.

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Color Resources and Learning

The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Physical Samples

Physical standards are one of the most precise ways to communicate color in many industries, including textiles, print, automotive, paints, food, chemicals, packaging, and plastics.

Many brand owners and designers communicate color expectations using physical standards, and suppliers and manufacturers rely on them to capture spectral data for formulation.

Color with Glossy Matte

While physical standards can be a great help, they can also hurt business if they’re not cared for properly. Today we’ll look at five tips to help you preserve your physical samples so they maintain their integrity for as long as possible.

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Color 101, Color Resources and Learning

How to Talk Color with Customers and Suppliers

Which of these swatches would you call bright red?
Pantone stickers


Speaking the language of color isn’t like giving someone your phone number and expecting they’ll remember it. Our minds just don’t process color like that.

While vague color descriptions are sufficient for many people – “Turn left at the blue house” or “choose the reddest strawberries” – if you work in an industry where color is important, you need to know how to speak a much more specific color language.

How do you create a color that “pops” or “radiates?” What color is “sunshine?” Is “raspberry” red, blue, or purple? And what do you do when your customer asks for such a color?

Unfortunately this is how people communicate in the color industry all the time. When it comes to vague nuances, the chances of getting color right using verbal communication alone are very low, which leads to rework when the color isn’t right.

Don’t just shake your head and try again. Color communication doesn’t have to be so difficult. Today we’ll look at the main reasons color communication goes wrong, and some simple ways to fix it.

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Color Measurement 201

What is an acceptable St. Patrick’s Day tolerance?

Green is green, right?

Maybe if you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but not when your bottom line is impacted by color accuracy.IMG_5611

In the color industry, a tolerance is the acceptable amount of difference between a standard (the color you’re trying to match) and a sample (the color you are producing). To determine whether a color is within tolerance, many manufacturers use a color measurement device called a spectrophotometer to measure both colors and compare the difference between them. This difference is known as the Delta E.

Generally, the amount of color difference that the naked eye will notice is somewhere around a Delta E of 1 (a trained colorist may be able to see much less), but that’s just a starting point. Acceptable color tolerance varies by application and industry.

If you’re printing billboards on a wide-format printer, for example, the color doesn’t need to be as exact as it does for small plastic toy parts that must match once they’re assembled. While a Delta E of 3, or even 5, may be acceptable for the billboard, the toy won’t pass inspection if the color of the parts is farther apart than a Delta E of 1.

There’s something else that must be considered when setting tolerances in manufacturing, and it’s great news for manufacturers producing St. Patrick’s Day merchandise. It’s harder for us to detect slight shifts in the color green than it is in other colors like reds, blues, and tans.

Today we’ll look at an experiment conducted by David MacAdam in the 1940s that helps us understand why some colors have tolerances that are farther apart than others.

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Color Resources and Learning

When color goes wrong…

What happens to products when color goes wrong?

It’s wrong color that keeps discount stores in business. Copy paper that isn’t quite bright enough, a label with the wrong color red, or a pillowcase that’s a shade off from the rest of the sheets, and the product is rejected. A discounter can buy the whole lot for a fraction of the cost and sell it for profit.

wrong color; xrite blog

This, of course, is not good for manufacturers, and it is the real reason color control in manufacturing is so important. From color specification through manufacturing to final quality inspection, the color has to stay true. And it if does stray, it must be caught early so adjustments can be made before too much time and money is wasted.

wrong color; xrite blog

Although color evaluation can be subjective and emotional, today’s color measurement systems take that out of the equation by providing fact-based analysis and spectral data, so everyone is speaking the same language. By staying current with developments in tools, techniques and technologies for measuring, monitoring and managing, and communicating color, manufacturers can maintain color accuracy across sites and throughout their workflows.

Today we’ll look at the top seven places in a production workflow where color can go wrong. Compare this to your workflows to see how you can make sure your color stays right.

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Device How-To

The Importance of Calibration

Why calibrate?

For the most part, today’s color measurement instruments are 100% digital. In fact, there are very few analog components inside, except for the light bulbs. Although they’re more stable than their analog predecessors, their tolerances are much narrower, and they need regular calibration to stay within these tight specs.

digital color measurement instrument

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Color Measurement 101

What is a Spectrophotometer?

color's fingerprint

The spectral reflectance curve provided by a spectrophotometer is commonly known as the color’s “fingerprint”.

Spectrophotometers are color measurement devices used to capture and evaluate color. As part of a color control program, brand owners and designers use them to specify and communicate color, and manufacturers use them to monitor color accuracy throughout production. Spectrophotometers can measure just about anything, including liquids, plastics, paper, metal and fabrics, and help ensure that color remains consistent from conception to delivery.

Today we’ll look at how spectrophotometers work, how they are used, and the most common types available today.


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Color Meets Tech Help

Measuring Bacardi Mojitos

Would you choose a beverage off the store shelf if the same brand sitting next to it was a different color? The Bacardi Bottling Corporation knows the answer is probably no, which is why the company incorporates strict color standards into its Bacardi Mojito production process.

bacardi mojito production

Bacardi Mojito is a mix of premium rum, flavorings and special natural ingredients. Since the color of these ingredients can vary, Bacardi bottlers need to continually adjust their recipe to maintain consistent flavor and appearance.

According to John Scussel, lab supervisor for the beverage plant, “We can’t just follow the exact same recipe for every batch of Bacardi Mojito that we mix because of the color variations of a few incoming ingredients. Using natural ingredients can make the final product appearance notoriously difficult to control,” Scussel says. “A small change in lot-to-lot color of these can make quite a difference in our Mojito, and our consumers demand consistency in not only taste, but in the appearance of our products.”

Lack of color control is an expensive proposition. Imagine mixing a 10,000-gallon batch of Mojito, only to find out it doesn’t meet Bacardi’s strict color tolerance!

Today we’ll look at how X-Rite worked with Bacardi to put together a hardware and software solution that ensures quality and consistency of the Bacardi Mojito beverage.

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Device How-To

Using Rigs & Jigs to Measure Sample Color

Spectrophotometers are excellent tools for measuring samples versus standards to compare color differences, but what do you do if you have an irregular sample that isn’t flat or uniform in size and shape?

Achieving color accuracy can be a challenge for irregularly shaped products like liquids, plastics, cans and powders. X-Rite offers specially designed accessories for many of our instruments to help measure these hard-to-hold samples. We call them “rigs and jigs,” and they enable handheld and benchtop spectrophotometers to measure many of those odd shaped and hard-to-hold samples.

Today we’ll look at how X-Rite helps many customers, including the Algida Ice Cream Company, effectively measure their non-standard products.

spectrophotometer rigs jigs measure sample color

A benchtop spectrophotometer fitted with a test tube holder to measure the color of orange juice.

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