When you work with paint and pigments, achieving the right color is crucial. Ideally, your target color can be achieved efficiently and accurately to ensure customer satisfaction. With an increasing consumer demand for sustainable practices and a rise in environmental regulations, attention has been drawn to the need to innovate sustainably without sacrificing product quality or speed. Achieving customer expectations in a timely manner is still the ultimate goal.
Common Color Formulation Challenges
Managing color is easier said than done. It can be a tedious, time-consuming process. When formulating a color, there are a number of common challenges that one may encounter, especially without access to the right color management tools.
Have you ever received a message that tells you there are no available formulas when trying to formulate a color? A common reason this error occurs is because you may be unable to generate a formula for an exact match using the colorants you selected. After receiving this message, you may run into a few challenges trying to resolve the error, including figuring out which colorant combinations will work, choosing the correct colorants to add, and understanding whether or not you really need to select every colorant in your library.
Software that has the capability to map color gamuts, which we refer to at Datacolor specifically as gamut mapping, can help provide answers to these three questions and speed up the decision-making process. A color gamut is the portion of color space that you can match colors, and it is defined by the pigments in your colorant set. It provides a visual representation of the color space covered, that which is not covered, and your match capabilities.
For example, if you are trying to match a yellow color target and receive the frustrating formula error message with your selected colorants, gamut mapping could be the answer. With gamut mapping, you would have known beforehand that the yellow target could not be achieved, allowing you to quickly adjust the selected colorants to identify which combination will generate a match. This provides a significant advantage since it helps reduce the trial and error process of running several formula combinations.
Streamline and Cut Costs
Traditionally, getting color right involves numerous color corrections with physical samples that cause unnecessary waste. Beyond the negative environmental impact, manual color formulation and corrections stall productivity and undercut the bottom line. With color matching software, you can significantly cut the time it takes to produce accurate color by reducing manual matching needs and improving first-shot color match rates, which in turn reduces the amount of time you spend on color formulation.
Gamut mapping helps you know right away if you are unable to match your target color with the colorants you have selected. The “perfect” match may require multiple different colorants and pigments in various combinations, all of which may quickly add up to increase production costs. Using gamut mapping software, you can identify a near-perfect match – one that is still within your client’s acceptable tolerance range – that could be achieved using less-costly pigments. This helps to reduce the amount of raw materials needed to achieve a match within your tolerance range, while also potentially reducing production costs.
Formulate Sustainable Colors
With increasing government regulations around environmental health and safety, certain colorants and pigments have been deemed harmful to the environment and are actively being removed from paints. Additionally, world changes, including the impacts of the pandemic, are making certain colorants and pigments more scarce and thus more expensive, forcing many to reconsider formulations that may include them. Gamut mapping can help adjust formulations to remove such colorants and pigments, keeping costs in check and ensuring supply availability, while also maintaining the desired color matches.
Sometimes, restrictions on raw materials can impact the base paint. Every change made to the base will impact each of the corresponding color formulas within a brand or manufacturer’s color library, which could require hundreds of thousands of reformulation calculations. Digital color management software can automate this process, saving significant time and resources each time the base paint needs to be adjusted.
Using color formulation software can also help eliminate or significantly reduce the need for physical samples. With this type of technology, companies can know instantly, right on the screen, whether a match can be achieved with the selected pigments. Over time, producing fewer physical match samples results in less waste, and saves time and money, not only because less samples are being produced, but also because it eliminates a significant amount of global shipping fees thanks to instant digital communication of results.
Embrace a Digital Workflow
A comprehensive digital color management strategy that includes gamut mapping and other environmentally conscious features makes color formulation faster, easier and more sustainable. Color formulation can only truly be successful and efficient as part of a fully digital color management workflow with proper software, hardware, processes and protocols in place.
It is important for pigment and dispersion companies, especially at larger companies where color can originate from anywhere in the world, to be able to communicate color data seamlessly across multiple locations – something that is becoming increasingly important as many workers in the paint and coatings industry continue to work from home due to the pandemic. This is not possible without digital color management, which allows companies to develop precise color formulations and transfer them to manufacturing locations anywhere in the world at any time. This also leads to quicker approvals and improved quality control.
With digital color management solutions, in addition to streamlining communication across multiple locations for color approval, crucial decision making is made simple. Color management software learns from previous mistakes and helps to identify process improvement areas. Implementing digital color management solutions into workflows should be a no brainer for paint and coatings industry professionals.
Managing color can be challenging, but with a comprehensive digital color management system in place, it is possible to achieve accurate color quickly, sustainably and cost efficiently.