Published On: Wed, May 13th, 2009

X-Rite To Demonstrate a Revolution in Advanced Color…

X-Rite Incorporated will present advanced technologies at the NPE2009 International Plastics Showcase in Chicago from June 22 to 26 that manufacturers of plastics products can use in their workflow everyday to accurately communicate color data between plants worldwide, reduce rework and scrap, and improve quality.

X-Rite representatives at booth N65021 in the McCormick Place will demonstrate technologies that plastics manufacturers serving the automotive, durable and small appliance, office furniture and home improvement industries can use to precisely control the color of their products. Two new families of instruments include a non-contact spectrophotometer called the VS450® that is affordable enough to be stationed for quality control at an individual machine, and the xDNA® system with MA98® spectrophotometer that accurately measures effect colors that are popular with consumers. In addition, the company will be demonstrating its VeriColor® Spectro instrument that is versatile for in-line color measurement for industrial applications.

As a new product introduction, the VS450 is X-Rite’s response to customers in the plastics industry that are looking for a lab-to-production solutions, said Kenneth Phillips, product manager for Non Contact Industrial Markets. “The VS450 is about twice as accurate as comparable instruments in terms of repeatability,” Phillips said. “That means manufacturers can have good confidence in the data they use for monitoring their operations.” The VS450 offers manufacturers advanced and affordable technology to measure color accurately on curved surfaces, wet color, and other demanding applications. Unlike other spectrophotometers that require a test surface to make physical contact against a viewing port, the VS450 measures samples from a distance of about 38mm (1.5 inches).

“Contamination of the viewing port is a common problem with production equipment measuring everything from a plastic part to wet color,” Phillips said. “That problem is eliminated altogether with the VS450 because it never touches the sample.” For instance, the instrument is ideal for a manufacturer that uses Leneta test cards for industrial color to correlate the color of wet color with its resulting color when dry.

The VS450 tackles another problem for manufacturers: incorrect data when the measurement it taken in the wrong sample area. The VS450 projects either a 6mm (1/4-inch) or 12mm (1/2-inch) diameter ring of light on the sample to clearly show the technician where the color measurement is being taken. “At 6 mm, our Line of Site feature offers the smallest aperture size in the industry,” Phillips said. “We were responding to our customers’ needs to pick out one small area in a part that may have sections with several colors.”

In addition to targeting samples precisely, the VS450 has advanced optics and sensors to more accurately measure reds, blues and dark hues — which generally are the hardest colors to get right for coatings and plastic formulations.

Employing the same technology as the VeriColor spectrophotometer, the VS450 illuminates its test surface with a burst of intense light simulating daylight that is generated from light emitting diodes (LEDs), which greatly reduces errors that can result from reading other light sources in the store. The instrument recognizes light coming from the LEDs only, ignoring incandescent, fluorescent or sodium vapor light on the shop floor that greatly affects the way colors are detected.

Phillips said the VS450 instrument is an extension of the company’s VeriColor spectrophotometer family of instruments that set a new standard two years ago for color measurement in demanding industrial applications. The VS450 is built to correlate data at a 0 degree and 45 degree angle from the test surface, which allows it to yield reliable readings on satin and glossy surfaces and a variety of different textures.

The VS450 and the VeriColor instruments come bundled with software so the systems can integrate seamlessly with X-Rite and other software packages, allowing companies to maintain historical data.

X-Rite also will be demonstrating the powerful applications of the company’s new xDNA technology in measuring metallic flake, pearlescent and other effect pigments.

X-Rite representatives will demonstrate how the patent-pending xDNA system with its new MA98 spectrophotometer helps automotive suppliers, appliance manufacturers and other companies using effect colors to quickly introduce new processes, improve first-time quality and reduce the time and effort of troubleshooting problems on the factory floor.

“With twice as many sensors and illuminators as other hand-held multi-angle spectrophotometers on the market, the MA98 can detect characteristics of effect color that the other instruments miss entirely,” said Brian Teunis, product manager whose division developed xDNA. “It’s truly amazing technology.”

Manufacturers often waste a significant amount of time and money trying to match plastic parts either coated with effect color or containing effect materials because they do not have instruments that measure why the surfaces look different under various illuminations and observation angles. Quality control personnel on a production line may observe that two parts don’t match properly, but prior instruments could not give measurements to help explain why the mismatch was occurring. Consequently, companies spend an inordinate amount of time and resources trying to determine the root cause of problems through trial and error methods.

Teunis said the MA98 instrument collects data that other instruments miss entirely, and a software package called X-ColorQC® manipulates the data with proprietary xDNA algorithms to generate easy-to-understand graphs that show unique characteristics of an effect color.

The new xDNA system offers manufacturers reliable and consistent data that can help:

    * Troubleshoot whether a problem on the shop floor is due to the manufacturing process or the formulation;
    * Assess whether existing equipment can be adjusted enough to accommodate a new process
    * Develop more exact quality standards on the lines that indicate quickly when a process is going out of control
    * Predict whether a person will be able to perceive a difference in color and appearance when the formula of an effect color, or the process used to manufacture the color, are changed.

From a hardware viewpoint, MA98 is a precision 31-point spectrophotometer that is designed for ease-of-use on the factory floor. Weighing approximately 1 kilogram and covered with a soft over-mold case for two-handed use, the instrument is designed for frequent and comfortable measurement by shop floor personnel.

Other advantages include:

    * Quick measurement time of about 1 second, with calculation and display in a total of 2 seconds
    * Battery-powered operation with over 1,000 multi-angle measurements per full charge, in addition to operation from an AC adapter
    * Solid-state sensors and indicator lights that signal when the instrument is applied properly against the test surface to improve measurement repeatability
    * Compatibility with previous generations of X-Rite instruments, allowing continued use of existing databases
    * A large color display screen that is backlit for easy viewing under varying light conditions
    * Programmable internal software called JOBS, which creates a workflow routine for repeated measurements with both text and visual cues to insure measurement precision
    * Two year, industry-leading warranty.

In addition to xDNA, the company will also be demonstrating its VeriColor Spectro non-contact in-line measurement technology, Color i7 benchtop, portable sphere spectrophotometers, and color quality control and formulation software, light booths and hue tests to determine whether a person has color vision deficiencies.

“Any company that has a tight tolerance on the color of its plastic products — automotive interiors, vinyl siding, office furniture trim, durable goods — should see a very favorable rate of return by using the VeriColor spectro,” Phillips said. “Companies that employ this instrument will have a competitive advantage because it promotes first-time quality and provides data for highly efficient manufacturing.”

The VeriColor spectro can:

    * Provide real-time or continuous data that matches lab quality accuracy;
    * Measure colors at a distance of 10 cm (+/- 5 mm) from the test surface;
    * Read colors accurately in a shop floor environment with fluctuating temperatures, vibration, high humidity and variable lighting conditions;
    * Measure accurately without frequent calibration, which can be accomplished easily in seconds if the optics of the instruments are accessible;
    * Measure the color of products with varied textures.

When programmed to take regular and frequent measurements, the VeriColor spectro can markedly reduce scrap and rework because it provides an immediate signal when a process is making parts outside of specifications. In addition, companies can see a quicker return on investment of their purchase of VeriColor spectro instruments by using its Color iScan® software to analyze and correlate the instrument’s measurements with process data such as gloss, film thickness, temperature and other process parameters to improve statistical process control and first-time quality.

About X-Rite

X-Rite is the global leader in color science and technology. The company, which now includes color industry leader Pantone, Inc., develops, manufactures, markets and supports innovative color solutions through measurement systems, software, color standards and services. X-Rite’s expertise in inspiring, selecting, measuring, formulating, communicating and matching color helps users get color right the first time and every time, which translates to better quality and reduced costs. X-Rite serves a range of industries, including printing, packaging, photography, graphic design, video, automotive, plastics, paint, textiles, dental and medical.