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Digital Color Management in the Paint and Coating industry

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Rik Mertins, Applications Manager at Datacolor on June 24, 2020.  

The adoption of digital color measurement and communication can have a positive impact across the supply chain for many industries resulting in a significant reduction in time and costs associated with product development. The paint and coatings industry, from high-solids coatings and two-component systems, powder coatings to radiation-curable coatings is no different. Color management processes and procedures are proven and reliable, so it’s no surprise that more and more people are gravitating to it in this industry.

What is Color Management?

Getting color right can be tricky. Everywhere in the paint and coatings industry, a surprisingly large amount of time and resources can be spent on measuring and communicating color.

Getting color right is fundamental to your business. That’s where color management comes into play. Color management refers to the solutions that measure, analyze, communicate and assess color information. With the right color management solutions in place, manufacturers can overcome the time and resource-intensive process associated with getting color right.

Manufacturers in the paint and coating industry are held to the highest industry standards when it comes to their products, so it is critical for their formulation software to deliver fast and accurate color matching while minimizing batch corrections and overall costs. And that’s where digital color management comes into play.

Why Digital?

Color management starts with color measurement – you cannot manage what you cannot measure. Digital color measurement refers to measuring paint or coating samples using a spectrophotometer for consistent quality control and evaluating and sharing objective, numerical color information. Inaccurate color can cost businesses hundreds of thousands of Euros, not to mention delay product to market. Digital color measurement ensures accuracy and offers a myriad of benefits to the paint and coating industry.

If you are not using a digital database that gives computerized formula predictions, then you wind up doing things manually. When manually trying to measure color, you could try to match a color for days before realizing that the color is not possible to be matched. We see this happen quite frequently in the paint and coating industry, turning the color matching process into a waste of time, money and resources. With digital color measurement, you will know immediately if you don’t have the raw materials on hand to make a certain color.

The color development process is time consuming. On lab scale, one formulation trial can take about one hour to produce one sample, leading to a longer color development process than other coatings technologies. If there is a color error, facilities must go back and re-start the process. The more time you can save developing a color, the higher your productivity. Without computerized color equipment, you simply can’t be responsive to the coatings market or deliver quality color.

The above is an excerpt from a recent article I authored: Rik Mertens, That’s Why Colour is so Important in the Paint and Coating Industry, in ipcm® International Paint&Coating Magazine no. 63 (May/June 2020), pages 06-09. I encourage you to read the full article in order to learn more about this topic and access further insights.

Rik Mertens

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