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Spectrophotometers for Manufacturers

March 11, 2015 by X-Rite Color

Color mistakes are expensive, and can happen anywhere in the process – during specification, formulation, manufacturing, assembly or – worst case – all of the above. Colors easily drift from raw materials to parts assembly and production – one loose screw in a projection molder and the color will shift. When productions and parts are created in various locations, things get further complicated. Who has time for rework? And who wants to explain the wasted time and materials? Every mistake is expensive. Adding mistakes to mistakes across the entire process is very expensive.

In addressing these issues, data is your friend. Measuring color, across the supply chain and during manufacturing and assembly is the only true way to ensure that color remains consistent. This is foundational to creating a color-managed workflow, and X-Rite’s new Ci7x00 series of benchtops sets a new benchmark for the industry. With up to five aperture sizes and three automated UV filters, the Ci7x00 devices can measure pretty much any surface, size and texture, including opaque, transparent and translucent, wet or dry, with or without gloss. Couple this with customer-friendly service and on-site maintenance for many issues, and you will be the color hero in your department.

So how do you know the color you measured is the color you want?

Who doesn’t like wine? Call me Marsala

PANTONE Chip Drives USB Flash Drive.

PANTONE Chip Drives USB Flash Drive.

Marsala, the earthy wine 2015 PANTONE® Color of the Year is also known by the digital name PANTONE® 18-1438. That number is a fingerprint that only Marsala has. If you want to produce a product in this color, then you’re much more likely to get it with the digital name as a reference — PANTONE® 18-1438 – as opposed to just asking for Marsala. That would almost be like just asking for blue … and we all know how many different blues there are!

Efficient supply chains communicate their colors digitally – by number – to all of their partners. Whether you’re specifying for a designer, plastics pellet manufacturer, paint or ink formulator, textile manufacturer or print shop, it’s the best way to be assured that the color you’re describing is the same color the next person in line will hear and implement. Digital colors can be specified and stored in software and devices to ensure that perfect color matches occur during every step of the manufacturing process.

The Ci7x00 is the leading spectrophotometer for measuring to a specified digital color reference. Migrating legacy color data at a high level of accuracy is easy. You can even integrate PANTONE® libraries and make color communications easier by specifying to a PANTONE color reference, such as from the Plastics, Fashion Home & Interiors and PANTONE® PLUS Guides.

Digital color communication. It’s all the rage these days, and for good reason. It’s the key to profitable, accurate manufacturing of paint, textiles, plastics, cosmetics – in fact, just about every conceivable product.

Automated accuracy

In addition to specific color data, a solid color management workflow relies on accurate measurements. For that you need a measurement device, proper settings, accurate samples, and skilled users… a simple task when you employ the Ci7x00 series. It’s as automated as they come.

Ci7x00 setup is easy. You can either choose from preloaded customer settings, or enter your custom job requirements, color standard data, and settings like aperture size, UV calibration, and specular conditions. The software will automatically communicate everything to the device.

Ci7x00 measuring Pantone Plastic Chip.

Ci7x00 measuring Pantone Plastic Chip.

All the operator must do is change the physical aperture plate as necessary and the device handles the rest… zooming in or out to the appropriate position, or speeding up the measurement process to improve productivity. If the operator accidentally installs the wrong plate, a notification will halt the process until it’s corrected. Laser targeting quickly shows the operator exactly where on the sample the measurement is being taken for accuracy.

As a bonus, the Ci7x00 includes a super cool feature no other brand or instrument can offer – a visual and digital audit trail. For each measurement, an on-board digital camera captures an image of the measurement and creates a visual record that includes the settings (both the required settings and any that may have been changed). If anyone ever questions the validity of a measurement, this data stream can be retrieved. Smudges, tears, wrinkles or other defects on the sample that might have affected the measurement can be clearly seen, and settings can be reviewed. These breakthrough instruments also capture temperature and humidity conditions at the time of measurement. This is important as those conditions can affect the color of the sample.

Measurement device with proper settings: check.
Mitigated user error: check.
Sample integrity: check.

Your color is verified, tracked, managed, and audited from start to finish with the Ci7x00.

Solid integration (even with legacy and competitive devices!)

Of course, the Ci7800 and Ci7600 play nicely with each other and other X-Rite devices, but they also fit seamlessly into any color supply chain, regardless of data format. With X-Rite Color iControl software, they can even communicate and exchange data with instruments from other suppliers. That’s right. You don’t have to change your entire workflow to enjoy all of the features of these amazing new benchtops.

In fact, the Ci7x00 can help you use your important legacy data more effectively. The devices can be configured to read color giving results that are extremely similar to the legacy instruments that originally created those standards and databases. This creates a whole new level of supply chain flexibility and helps streamline mergers and acquisitions, as well as standardize mixed instrument shops or labs.

It also makes adding a Ci7x00 device into your workflow a piece of cake.

“But my devices work just fine!” you say.

While that may be true, “just fine” will not keep you afloat in a sea of perfect color. It’s like anything else. Your 1989 Dodge will probably get you to the grocery store and back, but the rear camera on the 2015 model will keep you from backing over your garbage cans on the way out of the drive or hitting that shopping cart that someone carelessly left loose in the parking lot.

In color measurement, newer means faster and better, more accurate and repeatable, and more reputable in the eyes of your customers. Newer will save you time and money, keep your customers happy, and win you more business. Newer delivers an amazingly fast ROI for all of these reasons.

Making your color measurement dreams a reality

Now through June 30th, 2015, X-Rite is offering an excellent trade-in promotion. You give up your old device, and they’ll reward you with a $4,000 trade-in credit toward the purchase of a new Ci7800, or $2000 toward a Ci7600, making that ROI even faster. Check out a list of eligible devices.

Still not sold? Consider letting X-Rite take a look at your current color workflow and provide suggestions that will help you earn a solid ROI. (Yes, they really do that!)

Stay tuned!

Soon I’ll introduce a some of the software packages that can increase the productivity of the Ci7x00 series, share some of the ways people are using this cool new device in industrial and packaging settings, and tell you where you can see one in action (Hint: #NPE2015, the first public unveiling of the Ci7x00 next generation benchtop spectrophotometers from X-Rite).

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