Get Color Right the First Time

Color Management for Plastic Converters

Why Color Management Matters for Converters

Plastic converters transform customer concepts into usable components. This requires precision and rigorous quality control to match the final product with the client’s specifications. Converting involves melting and blending color pellets from a masterbatcher and then using a process like injection molding, blow molding, or extrusion to develop a final form. This process puts a lot of stress on polymers and maintaining color consistency throughout the process can be a challenge. Implementing a robust color quality control program is crucial to the success of your product.

Digital color management tools ensure color precision and consistency of final products. By using devices such as spectrophotometers, converters can accurately measure color to ensure consistency between production runs of final product. Color management devices help ensure you are meeting customer color requirements while accounting for factors that affect visual color perception like opacity, gloss, surface temperature and texture.

Color Challenges for Converters

Plastic converters face several significant challenges when it comes to ensuring color quality and consistency of their products. Three primary concerns are variations in raw materials, environmental conditions during production, and the ability to ensure consistency of final products.

Do you have a unique color challenge? We want to hear about it!

Connect With An Expert


Raw Material Variability

The quality and characteristics of raw materials, such as resins and pigments, can vary significantly from one batch to another. This variability can affect the final color of the plastic products. Measuring all raw materials with a spectrophotometer as an initial quality control check prior to melting and blending with resins should be part of any QC program.

Environmental Conditions in Production

The conditions under which plastic is processed – including temperature, humidity, and machine settings – can have a profound impact on the color of your final product. Small fluctuations in these environmental factors can alter the way colorants disperse or how materials react, leading to inconsistencies in color and therefore, maintaining a controlled and consistent production environment is crucial.

Color Measurement and Matching Technologies

Accurately measuring and matching colors prior to full yield production is essential for converters. The subjective nature of human color perception between different observers makes purely visual evaluation an imprecise method of managing QC and a more thorough analysis with a spectrophotometer is required. In addition, differences in the opacity, gloss, and shade of materials can lead to inconsistencies in the end product, making it difficult to maintain standard color quality across different production runs.

The Right Solutions to Your Color Challenges

Digital color management tools for masterbatchers, like spectrophotometers, can make quality control of your products much easier. Consistent output is the key to repeat customers, and our spectrophotometers help ensure a higher rate of consistency and accuracy so customers know they can depend on you to get color right the first time.

Control Variability of Raw Materials

Datacolor spectrophotometers can be broken up into two groups: benchtops for high accuracy color measurements in a stationary setting and handheld spectrophotometers for quality control checks when you’re on the go.

  • Benchtop spectrophotometers, like our Spectro 1000, measure incoming raw materials for color accuracy before going to production. This important quality control step can save you time and resources if the masterbatcher or compounder didn’t achieve the correct formulation.
  • Handheld spectrophotometers, like our Check3 and 45G, are perfect for color measurements when you are on the manufacturing floor. Testing output with a spectro prior to full scale production is a critical quality control step as well.

Account for the Effect of Heat on Color Quality

  • Polymers go through extreme conditions to reach their final form, whether by stretching or heating. This has the potential to change the color of a product, so you’ll want to do a QC check with a spectrophotometer prior to shipping.
  • Keep in mind that improperly cooled samples can lead to inaccurate color measurements, affecting data quality and risking production wastage. Our spectrophotometers include surface temperature measurement to ensure samples are at the correct temperature for accurate color assessment.

Quality Control for Consistent Products

Ensuring that your customers get the exact same color from order to order is critical to the success of your company. With a proper quality control program in place, your customers will learn they can rely on you for consistent quality.