Color measurement devices are used to capture, communicate, and evaluate color. From cardboard packaging to food, laundry soap, carpeting and small plastic parts, color measurement devices help ensure the color being produced matches the color that was originally specified. They’re used behind the scenes in just about every industry where color is important, including plastics, textiles, paints, coatings, print and packaging.
There are basically two types of color measurement instruments: colorimeters and spectrophotometers.
Consistent color is a journey.
A few weeks ago I blogged about the most common pitfalls people run into when starting a color program…
- Wrong lighting
- Less-than-perfect color vision
- Inaccurate physical standards
- Inconsistent device color measurement
…And introduced some inexpensive color tools to help overcome them.
But the journey doesn’t stop there. Even if you’ve been successfully managing color for years, advances in inks, dyes, and substrates are introducing new challenges, and many brands are asking for tighter tolerances. Getting color right is much harder than it used to be.
Today we’ll look at some of the more advanced tools available to help you take the next step toward more consistent color.
People often ask how X-Rite got its name and how we came to be a leader in the art and science of color. It’s really a great story – one that focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship and determination.
What’s in a name?
X-Rite was founded in 1957 by a group of engineers and business entrepreneurs who had a desire to start a business based on innovation. The members brainstormed new product ideas ranging from can openers to sheet metal tools to collapsible car cots. After building prototypes and researching market opportunities, the team determined that many of the original ideas were cost prohibitive.
As any entrepreneur knows, starting a business is hard and the group had to look elsewhere for inspiration. With leadership from Ted Thompson, the company saw opportunities in the emerging medical market.
The idea for the first successful product came in 1958 from Ted’s wife, a nurse in a local hospital. She came home from work one day and said, “It sure would be nice if we could write the patient’s name on their x-ray.” That’s how x-ray tape was born and it’s how we got our name. X-ray tape you can write on = X-Rite). On Christmas Eve 1958, Ted filed the original articles of incorporation for X-Rite, and our journey of innovation began.
Color measurement devices have been around since the 1940s, but they’ve come a long way since then.
Built by Jules Duboscq in France in 1870, the Duboscq colorimeter was one of the first color measurement devices.
The earliest instruments were colorimeters, which used red, green and blue filters to simulate the tristimulus response of the human eye. Back in the ‘40s, they were pretty expensive so few people had access to them. Even more expensive were spectrophotometers, which measure color by sampling light at very narrow intervals across the visible spectrum.
Modern technology has paved the path for specialty devices for every kind of industry, and lower prices make color measurement devices accessible to everyone, from hobby photographers to car manufacturers.
Today we’ll look at the difference between colorimetry and spectrophotometry and the geometries that define each.