Without any doubt, consumers are more and more demanding in the quality of products and they easily reject the products that don’t fill their expectations. Consequently brands require more effective solutions to achieve colour and appearance consistency with cost-effective and time-saving methods. The reproduction of product’s colour and appearance to specified standards is always a major challenge for many manufacturers.
From textiles to packaging, plastics or coatings if manufacturers cannot succeed with the colour and appearance consistency of their products, the sales are going to plummet. Therefore, colour and appearance measurement should be an indispensable part in the quality control procedure of your products.
What is colour and appearance measurement?
Consumers perceive the products quality from its appearance. Except for colour, there are many attributes that affect the appearance of the product such as texture, haze, defects and flaws which all contribute to the product’s appearance.
For example, the appearance quality of food relies on “the distribution of surface reflectance, the nature of internally scattered light and the pigmentation of the product”. On the other hand a textile’s appearance is assessed by factors as colour, pilling, wrinkling, staining, creasing, texture and draping.
Appearance measurement is referred in 4 main categories, “colour, gloss, translucency and texture”. At this point we have to highlight that appearance measurement is different from colour measurement. If you want to detect any kind of flaws, defects, contamination and stability of your product you are interested in appearance measurement.
Maybe you are interested in measuring only the colour of your product to ensure that you will achieve accurate and consistent colour reproduction in subsequent batches, creating the colour standard you want. However, as many of our clients do, it is preferable to measure the appearance as well as the colour of your product to gain an integrated aspect of its quality. In the following example our client wanted to check the uniformity of colour across the biscuit.
Depending on the production line, colour and appearance measurement can occur in different stages from the design and prototyping stage to the final production for evaluation of the quality. In the textile industry colour measurement is needed in two stages, one of the dyed sample to be used as the standard and one for measuring the bulk batches which need to be perfectly matched.
In the plastic industry, manufacturers usually measure first the colour of the plaque before the moulding procedure against an interim standard to ensure they will have the desired results in the final product. The final product, in our case the master batches (see the picture below), should be measured again after the moulding procedure, as the temperature from the compression can affect the colour and appearance.
Why colour and appearance measurement is important?
Many times we take colour for granted and we don’t realize the importance of it. Colour is one of the most important attributes of the products at the point of sale, defining also the overall quality appearance of it.
Consumers make the final buying decisions depending on the visual elements of the product. The visual attributes of the product help us recognize the quality so if the garment that we want has variation in colour we question if the colour has been properly applied and fixed (unless it is tie dye of course) or we check if an automotive coating has any scratches and defects. Even in food and beverages, colour plays an important role to the attractiveness of the products, as we perceive the taste and flavour from its colour. For instance, depending on the colour of a banana, yellowish or greenish, we can recognize which is more mature and sweet or unripe and bitter.
Also, ensuring colour consistency in your products is very crucial, as “colour connects a product to consumers more quickly than any other identifying features”.
Consumers are repelled from poor quality and they will reject for example the knit sweater that appears to have fabric crimp and inter-yarn gaps or the leggings that seem to be transparent.
- Business and retailers use colour to create brand awareness. The consumer associates a colour with a brand, making their choice sometimes mechanically by picking the products from the stores’ shelves only from the colour. If a colour in the packaging doesn’t appear the same, like the following example, it could have a negative effect in family resemblance of the brand.
- You can save precious time and money, eliminating production loss.
Reproducing accurately the same colour remains still a huge challenge for many manufacturers. Especially, for difficult surfaces such as gloss, metallic coatings or complex surfaces like products from carbon fibre and reinforcement plastics is even more important, as manufactures will be able to speed up the quality process and reduce the wastage.
The need for colour consistency is more significant than ever and you need adequate colour measurement devices to achieve it!
How to achieve colour and appearance consistency
“Colour is an interpretation by the human brain obtained from the eye´s perception of visible electromagnetic waves”. An interesting fact is that our brain cannot remember colour neither describe it. We cannot reproduce colour with the same accuracy without measuring and applying the physical values of the colour.
Colour can be expressed numerically and this is the fastest and most accurate method for the reproducibility and repeatability of the colour. Innovative colour and appearance measurement devices transform the way of managing the product’s quality, as they give numerical data and graphs, helping the manufacturers to communicate colour better and easier and eliminate product’s wastage and rejection.
Choosing the right measurement instrument is important as you have to be reassured that the device understands the colour variables. Also, determining first the application that you want to use with the device will help you to choose the right one for your needs.
Do you want to measure flat colour or trims and laces? Do you want to detect flaws on the product’s surface? Do you want to check the texture of a food or a beverage?
The below table will help you to choose the right colour and appearance measurement equipment, depending on your products and the application.
DigiEye is a non-contact colour and appearance measurement system that helps you determine product’s quality, consistency and safety. A calibrated digital SLR camera enables capture of outstandingly detailed images of your product, recording colour data at millions of points with unvarying objectivity against the standards that you will set. VeriVide’s DigiEye can actually measure and assess product’s colour with its appearance for all industries.
Learn what kind of products DigiEye can measure? Check the video to find out its application.