Quality Magazine

Tech Showcase: Color Measurement Matters

September 30, 2009
Achieve reliable and repeatable results with the proper color measurement instrument.

The MA98 is designed for color measurement of metallic, pearlescent and other complex special effect finishes. Source: X-Rite


Color measurement is a crucial part of quality in many different industries, from aerospace to automotive. Though they may not consider the behind-the-scenes measurements, customers expect perfect color matching, and color errors do not go unnoticed. For example, it would reflect poor quality if the mirrors of a new car did not match the doors. Ensuring the proper color the first time improves quality and saves money.

Though the human eye is able to distinguish between colors, the right instrument can improve color matching and provide repeatable and accurate results. While new instruments may have an array of features, it also is important to establish a repeatable and reliable measurement technique.

What follows are a list of color measurement products now available.

The MA98 portable multi-angle spectrophotometer from X-Rite ( www.xrite.com) is designed for color measurement of metallic, pearlescent and other complex special effect finishes. The unit provides 10 measurement angles and two illumination angles to create a unique master profile of each color that serves as a benchmark for optimizing color communication from initial design through formulation, processing and quality assurance.

The MA98 has a compact, ergonomically efficient design that ensures proper aperture location and measurements that are unaffected by ambient light. Accurate, repeatable sample positioning is obtainable with pressure feedback control and LED indicators. Measurements are achieved within two seconds and communication is available through USB or wireless.

The product has increased lamp life with replaceable lamp modules, reduced battery consumption and a lithium ion battery. It also has enhanced color resolution with a 31-point dynamic rotation sampling color engine. Its four-button navigation and icon-driven color LCD allows for universal functionality in all work conditions. It also meets DIN and ASTM standards.

This handheld XRF spectrophotometer has been specifically developed for on-site analysis. Source: Qualitest

The EDX Pocket III X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer from Qualitest (www.worldoftest.com/xrf.htm) combines an advanced Si-PIN detector with a powerful 40 kilovolt (kV) X-ray tube. The Si-PIN detectors are electronically refrigerated, eliminating the need for liquid nitrogen, and allow the instrument to be used at normal room temperatures without additional accessories or procedures. This handheld XRF spectrophotometer has been specifically developed for on-site analysis. Pocket III is available with advanced software packages for different application fields such as RoHS inspection, positive material identification (PMI) alloy inspection, scrap metal recycling, mineral and mining, precious metals evaluation, soil and environmental inspection.

Pocket III assures laboratory quality analysis of high and low alloy steel, minerals, precious metals, RoHS elements and soil. The powerful algorithms also allow for analysis of light elements such as aluminum and magnesium through analysis of heavier elements. The combination of the Si-PIN, 40 kV X-ray means that the Pocket III can analyze and identify metal alloys in seconds. Restricted elements, lead in toys, contaminants in soil and small concentrations in ores can be accurately measured at high speeds. Trace element results, down to parts per million level, can be achieved in seconds.



The ColorTest has an external probe that allows for color measurement flexibility. Source: ElektroPhysik

The ColorTest from ElektroPhysik ( www.elektrophysikusa.com) is a portable handheld colorimeter featuring an external probe. The ColorTest works on the spectrophotometric principle with an external probe that allows for color measurement flexibility. Measurements can be taken in critical areas previously not possible. Also, due to the small size of the external probe, small parts can be measured freehand instead of using fixtures or other special accommodations.

Featuring a 45-degree/0-degree measuring geometry according to DIN 5033, the external probe illuminates the test sample with a defined light source to spectrally measure the light remitted.

Ideal for quality control on the production floor, the ColorTest resident memory and recording capabilities conform to QN-systems according to DIN EN ISO 9000 standards.



The microprocessor-controlled CS24D can be taught to recognize up to 15 colors. Source: Delta Computer Systems

Focusing the power of 24 ultra-bright LEDs for color detection on textured and other difficult materials, Delta Computer Systems’ (www.colorsensors.com) compact, CS24D color sensor provides performance and value. The microprocessor-controlled CS24D can be taught to recognize up to 15 colors and includes easy-to-use, Windows-based ColorSense software for configuration and optimization.

Color sensors are widely used in the automotive industry to support just-in-time programs where verification is required to ensure that the proper color components are being processed. Targeted for on-line applications like these, the CS24D distinguishes among up to 15 different colors and communicates the results via four discrete outputs. And, unlike the human eye, the CS24D color sensor quickly and accurately determines the best color match regardless of surrounding colors, most ambient light variations, and whether it is the beginning, middle or end of the worker’s shift.

All of Delta’s color sensors and sorters are based on the company’s pulsed LED technology and offer long-life, solid-state lighting with a wide range of colors from blue to near-infrared. The CS24D reads colors of textured and other difficult materials more accurately than typical color sensors by using a large sensing area and consistent, diffuse lighting from its 24 ultra-bright LEDs. Sorting can be done using color only, both color and intensity, or can be optimized to the Teach data. The ColorSense software includes setup wizards and teach modes that deliver fast configuration, teaching and optimization of sensors operating either stand-alone or connected to programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

The CS24D color sensor with ColorSense software is available in several models with a variety of sensing areas and standoff distances.



The MM-4e meets the requirements of ASTM D1729-96 for the visual appraisal of colors and color differences. Source: Graphic Technology Inc.

The Graphic Technology Inc. (GTI, www.gtilite.com) MiniMatcher Model MM-4e is a cost-effective solution to visual color matching, offering five standard light sources: D65 daylight, cool white fluorescent, incandescent illuminant A, TL83 fluorescent and ultraviolet (UV). Other common fluorescent sources-such as TL84 or Ultralume 30-can be substituted as required by the end user. The MM-4e has been designed to meet the requirements of ASTM D1729-96 for the visual appraisal of colors and color differences, and has a high CIE Publication 51 rating, making it a good fit for critical color matching applications. Features include automatic light source sequencing and an elapsed time meter to track light source usage and maintain proper relamping. Available accessories include viewing stands and black or white insert panels for special color matching applications.



The CM-700d/600d spectrophotometer allows easy and accurate color measurement in various sites and occasions. Source: Konica Minolta Sensing Americas

Konica Minolta Sensing Americas Inc. (www.konicaminolta.com/sensingusa) introduces the Spectrophotometer CM-700d and CM-600d, two compact, lightweight, portable vertical-format spectrophotometers that offer Bluetooth wireless communication and a color LCD screen. These models are approximately 25% smaller in volume than the company’s previous models as well as approximately 20% lighter. They employ an easy-to-hold vertical body with good stability for greater ease of use. In addition, they are equipped with Bluetooth wireless communication functions, enabling wireless transmission of measurement data to a computer or mobile printer. This allows for greater maneuverability for measurement work on location and on production lines without the limitations of conventional communication cables.

The CM-700d and CM-600d are equipped with color TFT LCDs that enable color patches to be shown for each measurement to allow immediate operation. The measurement tips of the spectrophotometers are narrow, so there are fewer limitations on what can be measured, including flat areas, protruding areas and sunken areas. Various optional accessories also are available, such as a target mask with glass over the measurement aperture, a granular materials attachment and a dust cover to enable measurements of a wide variety of subjects including pastes, powders and wet surfaces.