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    Visual Color Technology Development for Industrial Applications

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    There has been a need for a visual method of generating a color without preparing a sample standard or finished product. This styling and reference capability is required to generate new colors and review their visual appearance during the development of new products or restyling old lines. In the majority of visual approaches, a color chip or other reference has been used as a guide, which must then be matched with colored materials on a manual basis. Even with the utilization of an automated computer color system, the visual appearance of many materials cannot be fully duplicated until the actual product materials are available.

    Applied Color Systems' staff approached the question, “Is it possible to create a device that can simulate the finished product color and appearance that can be duplicated in the final product?” several years ago with a technology review and came to the conclusion that a mechanical/electrical approach could supply many of the answers to solve this need. As part of the technology review, we studied projection systems, video graphics, and the integration of spinning disks. Of all of the currently available technologies, we found that only the spinning disk based on the Maxwell technique solves both the color and appearance problems and gives reproducible results that can generate predictable colorant formulations.

    The device developed from the basic Maxwell disk concept is a solid state fully integrated system that creates visual color simulations that duplicated a range of typical industrial product finishes. It is apparent that many exciting new things can be accomplished with such a device. By adding visual modifications to the disks, the operator can visualize various loadings of white or create a metallic “look” to simulate metal loadings of paint or ink finishes. He can then take the data output from this device and convert them by computer into colorant formulas on a fully automated basis. This same data can be used to communicate color data from one location to another and be able to see the actual color in the second location.

    Industry may also be able to use such a device as a merchandising aid to help the customer to visualize the finished product color, whether it be on an industrial product surface, a contractor's building, or an interior decorating scheme.

    Based on performance in a number of industrial installations, we now feel confident that the Visual Color System can be an important aid to industry in the styling, communications, and merchandising of colored products. The device has the potential to open up new development areas in color technology to allow the manufacturer to have better control of color specification and a visual understanding of the color component of his product.


    color specification, color formulation, visual color response, Maxwell disk, standard observer, metameric colors, standardized lighting, color communication

    Author Information:

    DeGroff, JT

    Committee/Subcommittee: E12.04

    DOI: 10.1520/STP18349S