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Colorimeter or Spectrophotometer: Which is best for you?

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.

when color goes wrong; xrite blog; pantone blog

There are basically two types of color measurement instruments: colorimeters and spectrophotometers.

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Are you Ready for Computer-Aided Color Formulation?

How many trial and error steps does it take you to formulate a color? If you answered more than three, it might be time to enlist the help of a computerized solution.

Computer-aided color formulation can bring huge benefits to your business. Out of the gate, even beginners can hit color targets faster, saving time, money and expensive colorants. Once you’ve established an accurate process, you can expect to match 95% of your color requirements within a reasonable color distance on the first try! When you consider manual mixing takes an average of 12 tries to get it right, formulation software saves labs a lot of time and money during the development and production phases.

To learn more about the benefits, check out our blog “Fast Formulation is Key to Producing Color of the Year.” Today we’re demonstrating how a portable or benchtop spectrophotometer and Color iMatch software can help you formulate paint, plastic, and textile colors faster and with less waste.

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2016’s Top Color Management Concerns

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! A time to reminisce… to celebrate our successes, and to explore areas that may need a little more attention in 2017.

If color accuracy is on your list of things to improve, this article is for you. We’ve compiled a list of the blogs our readers found most helpful and interesting in 2016, so you can start working toward your goal of more accurate color in the New Year.

Did your favorite blog make the list?

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It’s officially summer. Are your pants white enough?

Beginning around the 1930’s, the rules of fashion dictated no white before Memorial Day. It was a status symbol, when the wealthy left their winter garments behind and headed to the beach for the summer with their lightweight, carefree clothes.

Although the rule still loosely applies, modern day fashion is more concerned with the brightness of your whites than when you start wearing them. So how do manufacturers ensure their products are as white as they can be?

Optical brightening agents (OBAs) are chemicals that are added to everything from linen slacks and silk blouses to socks and underwear. They use the process of fluorescence to trick your eyes into believing your clothes are whiter and brighter than they actually are. To ensure your garments enhance and retain this whiter than white appearance, many laundry detergents contain optical brighteners, too.

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What is metamerism, and why should you care?

Have you ever walked out of the house wearing two black socks, only to arrive at work and realize one of them is navy blue? If so, you’ve been a victim of metamerism.

Metamerism is a phenomenon that occurs when two colors appear to match under one lighting condition, but not when the light changes.

Metameric Pairs

Metameric Pairs

This picture shows the same dyed wool swatches under U30 fluorescent (top) and A incandescent (bottom) light sources. Notice how the samples appear to change color? This, of course, is something manufacturers want to avoid. Metameric matches are quite common, especially in near neutral colors like grays, whites, and dark colors like these. As colors become lighter or more saturated, the range of possible metameric matches becomes smaller.

To manage metamerism during color production, you need to know what causes it.

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Do You Know How Optical Brighteners Work?

Did you know that many of the products you use every day contain optical brighteners?

Optical brightening agents are chemicals that manufacturers add to products like paper, plastics, and textiles to make them appear whiter and brighter, and to lessen the natural yellowing process that happens over time. They also add these chemicals to cleaning agents to enhance the appearance of materials – primarily textiles – after cleaning.

Often unacknowledged by the typical consumer, OBAs trick our eyes into seeing a brighter white. To understand how they work, read on. We’ll dig into light-object relationships, the primary reason behind this brighter than white phenomenon.



When viewed under normal lighting conditions, these plastic parts appear bright white, but when viewed under UV light, you can see the glowing effect of the optical brighteners that were added.

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5 Color Evaluation Pitfalls to Avoid

If you work in an industry where color accuracy is important, you know that lighting plays a huge role in how you perceive color.

A light booth is a crucial part of any visual evaluation program. It can help you verify whether the color of your product is acceptable, plus ensure it will remain accurate in every lighting condition after purchase. When parts are manufactured at different factories, a light booth should also be used to make sure they continue to match under any lighting condition once assembled.

Four Lightbooths

This image shows how different colors look under four different lighting conditions: D65, D50, Store and Home.

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Getting the color right for Black Friday

Black Friday. Not only is it the much anticipated start to holiday shopping, it’s also a day manufacturers have been preparing for all year long.

Whether mass-producing holiday cards, candy canes, plastic toys, or festive clothing, accurate color is a must. Manufacturers can’t ship two of the same toy if they won’t match on the showroom floor, and holiday sweaters that are a shade off will end up in a discount store instead of in a fashion boutique.

Perfection is especially important for brand colors. Who will be left with the cost of wasted time and materials if color doesn’t pass brand owners’ tight tolerances?

Christmas Sweater

Today we’ll look at how color management can help the paper, plastics, textile and glass industries prepare for Black Friday’s shopping mania.

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Beyond CMYK in Color Printing

In our additive vs. subtractive color models post earlier this week, we talked about color models and CMYK printing. However, anyone responsible for printing Halloween goods or packaging knows that that some colors are just too difficult to reproduce using only CMYK inks. And orange can be one of those colors!

A fourth color, black (K, which stands for key) is often added to subtractive color printing applications. Since C+M+Y actually create a muddy brownish color due to ink impurities in C, M and Y, adding a true black ink creates the deep color and tones that CMY alone can’t achieve, plus adds density to the shadows.

This four-color printing is called CMYK. Today we’ll look at other ways printers can extend the gamut of CMY to save ink.

Using gray component replacement (GCR) and spot colors on press can help create a crisper print and more saturated colors.

Using gray component replacement (GCR) and spot colors on press can help create a crisper print and more saturated colors.

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The Science Behind Visual Evaluation

Many companies spend a lot of time and money on color measurement instruments and software but forget about the importance of lighting when approving products for shipment.

When used properly, spectrophotometers and color management software can tell you if your colors are within tolerance, and they can also manage gloss and metamerism (see explanation of metamerism below). However, you could still be sending out unsatisfactory parts if they don’t look right after they’re assembled, once they hit the store shelves, or after they arrive in the consumer’s home or office. At some point in the supply chain, someone must visually evaluate these parts – next to each other and under different light sources – to make sure they are ready to ship.

Proper evaluation considers how the product will look, when assembled, in each possible location. A light booth can simulate colors pre-purchase under store lighting, as well as under lighting that might represent their final environment. For instance, carpet manufacturers need to know how their products will look in the showroom as well as under incandescent tungsten, warm-white fluorescent, and the LED bulbs increasingly found in homes.

When a finished good is comprised of several materials, a light booth can ensure that the harmony among components remains constant under all lighting conditions. A light booth should be used to verify color acceptability, and more importantly, to ensure that the item does not exhibit physical defects.

Today we’ll look at the color science behind why a light booth is a necessary part of every color evaluation workflow.

Visual Evaluation; X-Rite Technology

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