Located near the top of Italy’s “boot,” COROB’s San Felice facility is the main site producing the company’s tinting equipment and product models. Known for its progressive solutions for paint tinting, the plant faced a new kind of challenge in 2012 when two earthquakes hit the region in May. The quakes, the heaviest of which reached a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale, severely damaged the facility, with 8,000 square meters of the plant completely ruined. Within a week after the second earthquake, tents were set up to continue production.

Now, as the production site begins to emerge from its 16-month reconstruction, the company is facing a new era in its history. It is again a stand-alone company, after splitting from CPS Color following the combination of the CPS Color colorants business with Chromaflo Technologies on 3 December 2013. The re-opened site is now the headquarter of COROB , with production merged from the previous two buildings into one updated facility. In November, when COROB still belonged to CPS Color, the company hosted me and other editors on a tour of the new site and provided an overview of the company’s latest tinting technology.

According to  Stefano Brusa, now COROB’s Global Product Manager, the advent of the personal computer in the 80s was the spark that led to the development of a computerized tinting dispenser. COROB’s automatic dispenser was the first to introduce the concept, replacing manual tinting and ready-mix paint. These first machines were bigger than today’s machines, since personal computers were larger. As technology has become smaller and smaller, automatic tinting technology has followed that trend. The innovations showcased in Italy reflect this, and the technology is allowing color-tinting solutions to reach new retail outlets and farther flung parts of the world. Showcased in San Felice were self-serve paint tinting and paint sample machines, and a very small, entry-level automatic turntable dispenser.

Hands-On Color Selection

One of the machines that garnered much attention was the industry’s first fully automated, consumer-operated paint sample center, COROBSELECT™. Tinting and mixing custom-color samples on demand, it allows consumers to make confident buying decisions by trying out a sample of the final paint within actual room conditions. Wall texture, lighting and other décor elements will influence the feel of the chosen color. Customers use a simple computer interface to select the paint color, and a small sample is created in minutes. Users can produce as many samples as they like without any help from shop personnel. An information checklist printed on the paint sample makes buying paint simple when a final decision is made. The freestanding unit has a very small footprint of 1.5m2 and can be independently placed within stores.

Self-Serve Tinting

COROBOX™, the industry’s first self-service tinting center, lets customers quickly tint their own paint with no help from store personnel. Using a computer interface, users choose their color, pick the recommended base paint from store shelves, and place it inside the machine, where it is tinted and mixed. The machine has none of the mess usually associated with paint tinting, as it has a patented Injection Tinting system that eliminates the need to open and close lids. Instead, a set of needles penetrates a self-sealing membrane on the lid of the paint package, and the colorants are dispensed. The membrane automatically cleans the needles when they retract. The injection head returns to the humidifier system where the needles are kept in best working condition. Problems such as leftover colorant potentially drying and clogging the dispensing needles are also avoided. This tinting center can be used with all water-based colorants, and it has a footprint that is no larger than the combination of a dispenser and a shaker.

Small Dispensers for Growing Markets

COROB™ FIRST1 is an affordable, entry-level automatic dispenser designed to facilitate the transition from manual to automatic tinting. This small dispenser can be used in remote areas, giving manufacturers a more efficient and accurate way to provide on-demand tinted paint orders. Operating with 12 or 16 canisters, it can be used with water-based or universal colorants. A streamlined design reduces the overall number of components, which makes maintenance simple, even in remote areas.

Colorificio San Marco’s Tinting During Filling

The company’s San Felice site also produces custom, high-capacity tinting during filling (TDF) systems for paint manufacturers. These systems allow in-plant tinting of both prefilled cans and empty cans that are filled with base material and colorants at the same time. They are more common for industrial applications but they also find use in the decorative sector. The company supplies an average of 15 to 25 TDF systems annually.

Essentially additions to traditional paint-producing environments, these systems run at speeds of 80 to 100 cans per hour. They handle different-sized cans and colors without the need for cleaning or exchanging equipment between batches. As a result, a TDF line runs 24 hours non-stop every day. While TDF lines typically account for 15 to 20 percent of a company’s paint production volume, they satisfy up to 60 percent of its production runs. Depending on design, TDF systems are fit to produce between 400,000 and 3.5 million liters annually.

Attendees at the San Felice event were able to see one of these systems at work in the manufacturing plant of Colorificio San Marco, where a COROB TDF system is installed. In business since 1962, Colorificio San Marco produces paint and varnishes for the building sector in Italy, as well as serving markets in France, Romania, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Russia, and Southeast Asia.

Italy has a long tradition of protecting its cultural and architectural heritage. Italy’s constitution even includes an article safeguarding the country’s natural landscape and its historic and artistic heritage. Local governments have rules in place to protect the aesthetics of buildings and even entire cities, including the color of paint used in certain neighborhoods. The ability to provide accurate custom color matches is a great asset in such an environment. Colorificio San Marco customers who need custom colors for architectural renovations insist on precise color matching, and the COROB TDF system is an important tool used to provide this high level of service.

A TDF system also enables faster response-to-market needs as orders can be delivered on the same day, replacing the standard delivery time of up to a week. In a typical ordering process, a customer provides a sample of the desired paint, the manufacturer takes a color reading and tints one can on the TDF line. Once the color is approved, the exact amount of paint required can be produced, which might be as little as five cans, eliminating over-production costs. As an additional bonus, color readings are stored on the manufacturer’s computer, ready for future use.

COROB’s TDF systems are tailor-made and include units for dosing, dispensing, mixing, labeling and lidding. Such a modular system makes modifications easy and cost efficient. When designing a TDF line, COROB works closely with the paint manufacturer, thoroughly analyzing its current business model and future objectives to make sure the systems meets all present and future requirements.