Best Practices: Color Formulation to Match Color Standards More Efficiently

Best Practices: Color Formulation to Match Color Standards More Efficiently

When formulating the color of dye, ink, paint, plastic, or other materials, standardized procedures and conditions are required to match standards through a more efficient process. This involves identifying variables within your laboratory or production process, establishing a controlled environment, and defining conditions and methods to ensure formulation results maintain accuracy and consistency. In addition, precise color measurement instrumentation and sophisticated formulation software are required to get the color correct the first time or with minimal waste and time.

Prior to the color formulation process, the following color measurement and visual evaluation conditions should be specified:

  • Instrument model, type, and geometry
  • Standard illuminants
  • Standard observer
  • Viewing angle
  • Color space
  • Color difference formula
  • Color tolerance values
  • Sample preparation and presentation methods
  • Light sources for visual evaluations

Once conditions are defined, a standardized color formulation process can proceed. Listed below are general color formulation best practices to match standards with minimal waste and time.

Color Measurement and Evaluation Best Practices to Match Color Standards

Ideally, the same color recipe that was used to create the standard should be used when formulating the color of a product. This, however, is often not possible. A color formulation process should be defined to create a recipe that matches the standard the first time or with minimal waste and time.

  • A standard color should first be defined internally or between supplier and customer. Using color measurement instrumentation specific to your application needs, measure the color you would like to match for the finished product and record its color values
  • Upload the standard’s color values to color formulation software, such as Colibri software, to calculate the recipe that best matches the standard
  • From the recipe calculated in the software, create a small batch of this color. After preparing and, if needed, conditioning the sample in a standardized process, measure it using a spectrophotometer to compare its color values and reflectance curve to the standard
  • Visually compare the sample against the standard within the controlled environment of a light booth to see if there are any noticeable inconsistencies. Samples should be compared under at least three different light sources to get the most accurate results and identify metamerism
  • Save the ideal recipe in the color formulation software to recall and reproduce in future batches

Please note, the color formulation software may calculate several recipes based on preset parameters, such as “best color match” or “best cost,” that closely matches the standard color. It is important to identify the recipe that best matches the standard color under the defined illuminants and light sources through visual and instrumental tests (e.g., least metameric properties). The colorants that the user feels work best together based on past history should be considered as well.

Standardized Color Formulation Conditions and Procedures

In addition to establishing standardized color measurement and evaluation procedures, standardized formulation conditions are also required to maintain consistency and improve efficiency throughout the color matching process. This includes equipment maintenance and defining conditions that can impact formulation results.

  • Maintain formulation equipment to ensure it is in proper working order
  • Monitor strength of incoming dyes or pigments to ensure consistency is maintained
  • Establish accurate weighing methods for substrates, dyes, pigments, or auxiliaries based on the weight of the objects being colored
  • Calibrate weighing scales and color measurement instrumentation at scheduled times to maintain accuracy and optimum performance
  • Maintain the light booth used during visual evaluations by replacing the lamps as recommended by the lamp supplier
  • Set a fixed room temperature so as not to cause a drift in the color of your samples
  • Standardize procedures from beginning to end, including the creation of samples for measurement, mixing samples, flash time after mixture, oven temperature for drying, and drying time, so as not to impact the final color

By standardizing the color formulation process and establishing a controlled environment, users can perform more effectively and match color standards with minimal waste and time. To formulate and control the color of your samples more efficiently, the following products are recommended:

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The technological leader in color and light measurement solutions, Konica Minolta Sensing Americas helps organizations formulate, evaluate, and control color to meet product quality and operational goals more efficiently.

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