The adoption of digital color measurement and communication can have a positive impact across the supply chain for many industries – resulting in a significant reduction in time and costs associated with product development – and the paint and coatings industry is no different. Color management processes and procedures are proven and reliable, so it’s no surprise that more and more people are gravitating to it in this industry.
Powder coatings are emerging as a staple in the paint and coatings industry, currently representing between 15-20 percent of the coatings segment. When compared to conventional coatings, durable powder is a more sustainable option, making it a good fit for those looking to lower their environmental impact. Powder can also be quite cost effective when compared to liquid coatings. As the global powder market continues to grow, consideration of color management in powder coatings is becoming more and more important. Here’s what you need to know about color management for powder coatings.
What is Color Management?
Powder coatings are available in a variety of colors and textures, which is one of the reasons we’re seeing manufacturers choose powder more and more; however, getting color right can be tricky. As with other types of paint and coatings, a surprisingly large amount of time and resources can be spent on measuring and communicating color.
Regardless, when it comes to powder coatings, color – or more specifically, getting color right – is fundamental to business. That’s where color management comes into play. Color management refers to the solutions that measure, analyze, communicate and assess color information. With the right color management solutions in place, manufacturers can overcome the time and resource-intensive process associated with getting color right.
Manufacturers of powder coatings are held to the highest industry standards when it comes to their products, so it is critical for their formulation software to deliver fast and accurate color matching while minimizing batch corrections and overall costs. And that’s where digital color management comes into play.
Color management starts with color measurement – you cannot manage what you cannot measure. Digital color measurement refers to measuring powder color samples using a spectrophotometer for consistent quality control and evaluating and sharing objective, numerical color information. Inaccurate color can cost businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention delay product to market. Digital color measurement ensures accuracy and offers a myriad of benefits to powder coatings manufacturers.
If you aren’t using a digital database that gives computerized formula predictions, then you wind up doing things manually. When manually trying to measure color, you could try to match a color for days before realizing that the color is not possible to be matched. We see this happen quite frequently in powder coatings, turning the color matching process into a waste of time, money and resources. With digital color measurement, you will know immediately if you don’t have the raw materials on hand to make a certain color.
Powder coatings are fully manufactured in production facilities across the world. Large companies typically own many of these facilities, making it especially important that they have the ability to shift work and transfer formulations from one site to another. This is why digital color communication is critical. Being connected to a digital network allows the user to have access to the most recent data and enables quick and easy color formula updates.
The color development process of powder coatings is time consuming. On lab scale, one formulation trial can take about one hour to produce one sample, leading to a longer color development process than other coatings technologies. If there is a color error, facilities have to go back and re-start the process. The more time you can save developing a color, the higher your productivity. Without computerized color equipment, you simply can’t be responsive to the coatings market or deliver quality color.
What are the Benefits?
Taking advantage of high-quality digital color management technology offers many benefits to companies that offer powder coatings. If manufacturers are choosing powder coatings to complement their sustainability efforts, their color management process should also be environmentally friendly. Digital color management tools such as colorimeters or spectrophotometers increase sustainability efforts even further by reducing the need to manufacture and ship physical samples across the supply chain. Physical samples are only needed if there are color differences within digitally specified tolerances. Because of this, suppliers can avoid mailing physical samples with a low likelihood of approval altogether.
In addition to increased sustainability, manufacturers utilizing digital color management technology also see an increase in overall efficiency and accuracy. Digital color management allows faster, more accurate color matching throughout the supply chain. Communicating data digitally speeds up the entire color process by offering objective measurement data you can trust.
Offering custom color matching for powder coatings allows manufacturers to support custom and individual needs. In this industry, we like to say, “First thing wins,” because when it comes to powder coatings, speed and color communication are key. Whoever comes back first with the right color at the right price wins. This is made possible through digital color management. In fact, we have seen a company grow their powder sales by nearly 20 percent simply from implementing color management tools into their workflow.
With powder coatings emerging as a leading application in the paint and coatings market, it is important to consider the role digital color management plays in efficiency of workflows. Utilizing digital color management in powder coatings eliminates data silos, ultimately resulting in faster, more accurate matching. Digital color management gives manufacturers confidence in their color quality, knowing they have obtained it quickly and cost effectively.