No matter the industry, our customers are all working toward the same goal: Achieve accurate color and keep production moving. Even in the best conditions, color data can be a challenge to capture and share. COVID-19-related travel bans and social distancing guidelines are making it harder than ever.
Today we’ll share three easy ways to remotely share color data so you can achieve your color goals without shipping physical samples or making onsite visits.
The Benefits of Digital Color Data
To produce accurate color, everyone needs to shoot for the same target. We use an archery target icon in our software to illustrate this analogy. The closer your measurement falls to the yellow center, the closer you are to tolerance.
When working in a silo, this is easier to achieve. But most of us work with customers, suppliers, and other employees to bring products to market. It’s very important that everyone involved shoots for the same target, in the same way.
For example, if your customer is tolerancing against a new standard but you’re using one that is three years old, you’re not shooting for the same target. If you’re looking at color using daylight but your supplier is using fluorescent, you are not shooting for the target in the same way. Even though you may both hit the center of the target, your color samples won’t necessarily match.
Shooting at different targets, or in different ways, leads to unnecessary rework. You might spend time trying to correct a color issue when in fact you’re on target – just the wrong one. If everyone aims for the same target, you can to focus on correcting the real color issues.
To establish the target, you need to use digital color data. To ensure everyone is shooting for the same target in the same way, you need to share this digital color data.
What Type of Color Data to Include
To ensure everyone is measuring color the same way – shooting for the same target – each measurement must include some important information.
1 - Basic info, such as measurement name, date created, and a unique ID
This ensures everyone is looking at the correct standard. Our quality control and assurance software assigns a unique ID to each measurement. If you and your supplier are using a digital color standard with the same ID, you can work with confidence.
2 - Spectral Data
L*a*b* data is calculated using spectral data that includes a specific illuminant and a specific observer. If your target is just the L*a*b* data for a color, it only identifies that color in one condition. You need to include spectral data that includes the illuminant and observer used for the color measurement.
3 - Associated Tolerance
Your color data should also include the tolerance to identify how much variation is acceptable between the standard and a sample.
4 - Data Conditions
When measuring color, there are a variety of conditions that can be set on the device, including:
- Measurement Properties: Was the measurement taken in reflectance or transmissive mode?
- Instrument Details: Was the measurement taken with a 0:45, a, sphere, or a multi-angle device? What model?
- Measurement Details: What size area of view was measured? Was specular gloss included or excluded? Etc.
Each condition associated with the measurement should be included with the color data.
Color data is all about eliminating potential errors. If you outline everything involved in taking the measurement, you can ensure everyone uses the same data conditions and confidently compare the data.
How to Share Color Data
Once you capture the color data, there are three common ways to share it.
1 - CxF File
Originally created by X-Rite, Color Exchange Format (CxF) is now an ISO standard. This universal file format ensures an accurate and efficient exchange of digital standards, measurements, and metadata. Whenever color communication is mission-critical, CxF should be used to communicate color data.
A CxF stores all of the information we outlined above for each measurement, including basic info, spectral data, associated tolerances, and data conditions. A CxF can include one single measurement, a few, or even hundreds of measurements.
To create one, simply export the measurement data into a CxF file. The file is small so you can easily send it via e-mail, load it on a USB stick, or save it to a shared drive location. The recipient can then import the CxF file into their software to gain access to and work with the exact same color data.
Many third party software programs and all X-Rite software, including Color iQC, Color iMatch, and EFX QC for multi-angle and metallic measurements, have the ability to export, import, and use CxF data.
2 - eJob
Sometimes people are shooting at the same target, but have things configured differently in the quality control or quality assurance. eJobs contains the color data and all supporting information like a CxF, but also include a screen layout, trials, and more. Think of an eJob like an Excel spreadsheet or Word document.
Since everything is included, eJobs make it very easy to share data, shoot at the same target, and see the same results in exactly the same way. Most importantly, they allow you to have informed conversations about samples and color differences.
All of our quality control and assurance software can create eJobs. Like CxF files, eJobs can also be sent via email, but can only be used in software that supports eJobs.
3 - PantoneLIVE
PantoneLIVE is a cloud-based database for a large array of brand and custom color standards in a wide array of forms. It includes digital versions of:
- Traditional printed standards from Pantone Books
- Textile standards in a variety of formats, such as nylon, cotton, polyester, etc.
- Paint Standards
- Plastic Standards
Accessing PantoneLIVE ensures everyone in the supply chain is aiming at the same target in the same way by simply specifying which PantoneLIVE color to use. And, since everyone who has a license can access color data, you don’t have to send files or worry about using outdated spectral data.
When producing color, it’s critical to share complete digital data to ensure consistent results. If you do identify a color difference, you know it’s real and can focus on how to fix it.
Get in touch if you have questions or would like specific information about any of the products mentioned in this blog.