Designers, Engineers Shave Days off New Product Launches with Penn Color System Using X-Rite Color Measurement Technology
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Press release date: April 2, 2012
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Product designers and packaging engineers can shave days off the introduction of new plastic products with a system pioneered by Penn Color Inc. using technology from X-Rite Inc. that speeds color selections for plastics.
Penn Color, the Doylestown, Penn.-based supplier of colorants for the plastics industry, has launched its ChromaSort M system where designers and engineers can use pocket-sized spectrophotometers at their workstations or remote locations to measure the color of samples or inspiration items, then accurately match the results against an internal memory of about 5,000 colors.
Instead of sending samples to Penn Color for measurement or taking guesses on colors from printed fan decks, customers can use X-Rite's CAPSURE instrument to accurately measure colors and order plastic sample chips from Penn Color for delivery in only a day or two. The traditional method takes days longer to respond to sample requests.
Penn Color and X-Rite representatives will be demonstrating the ChromaSort M system and CAPSURE at the NPE2012 International Plastics Showcase in Orlando, Fla. from April 2 to 5. The X-Rite demonstration will take place at booth 26027 in the Orange County Convention Center South Hall.
"Our new system gives designers and engineers a much more powerful way to approach color selection for plastic products than just using a fan deck or swatch book," said Jim Walsh, Penn Color's Technical Director-Thermoplastics at its Hatfield, Penn. facility. "The problem with using fan decks is that the colors you see represent ink on paper -- it's not the actual plastic."
Walsh said the ChromaSort M system - with the "M" honoring color theory and instrumentation advocate Marge Stanish who died recently -- provides a precise representation of the color as a plastic item. The CAPSURE can even show examples of colors similar to the target colors, but where "a color may look like one unit lighter or darker than the original, or what a color may look like with a tinge more yellow, blue, red or green," he said.
In addition to accuracy and flexibility, the Penn Color system reduces the time it takes to get new products to market. After the desired color has been determined, the CAPSURE instrument will indicate the product number of the Penn Color formula of colorants. A designer or engineer can then call Penn Color to have an email and phone quotes on colorant costs and use rates, which are ratios of colorants to virgin resins to achieve specific colors. Most importantly, Penn Color representatives will send actual plastic chips of the desired colors by express mail to individuals requesting the information.
The system will first offer a selection of about 5,000 colors in polyolefin resins, which are largely used to make bottles, caps, and films. Penn Color plans to add color libraries for PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and other resins as the program evolves, Walsh said.
At the heart of Penn Color's new selection system is a palm-sized spectrophotometer introduced by X-Rite last year that combines a number of handy features with an accurate and reliable way of measuring color at a person's workstation. CAPSURE's small size and lithium battery recharged through a USB port make it a powerful tool for measuring colors of samples at the workstation or remote locations.
The CAPSURE instrument can determine colors on a wide range of inspiration objects - plastic components, printed materials such as labels and magazine illustrations, textiles and fabrics - by illuminating the test surface from three different directions and recording 27 color-accurate images in less than 2 seconds, a image capture technology that eliminates the shadows and interference that can degrade measurements.
"We ran an impromptu test of how well the CAPSURE could measure color when I was sitting in a conference room with my boss and a few other people," Walsh said. "Just for the heck of it, we measured a burgundy leather chair, and it pulled up a match from the 100 plastic color chips that we had loaded in its memory.
"I pulled the chip out, and held it up to the chair, and we couldn't believe it. It was a deep burgundy just like the chair. The only difference was a little gloss because the chip was an acrylic versus a leather chair, but hue was dead on."
CAPSURE also has the ability to determine up to four colors within a multi-colored pattern for developing matching or complementary color palettes, and designers and engineers can record the date and time of measurements and images, and add text and voice dictation. "You can put a voice tag on a particular target, so - after looking at hundreds of colors in the day - you can easily know what colors are associated with particular projects," Walsh said.
Those requesting the plastic samples can change some parameters such as opacity when they order a small test batch of the formulation, he said. "We expect that the new system will become a game changer with product designers and packaging engineers who want to give their customers some value-added services," Walsh said. "We think they will really be excited about the possibilities."
Founded in 1964, Penn Color has built a strong reputation in providing additives and color concentrates at the right particle size suspended in an appropriate carrier to companies that manufacture film and sheet, packaging, house wares, compounds, building materials, and synthetic fibers. With about 600 employees in facilities in the United States, the Netherlands, and its Asha Penn Color Pvt. Ltd. joint venture in Valsad, India, Penn Color also sells full lines of inks and coatings to companies in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Based in Grand Rapids, Mich., X-Rite (NASDAQ:XRIT) and its Pantone LLC subsidiary is the leader worldwide in color management and data communication for automotive, appliance, photographic, graphic arts and other industries.
X-Rite, 4300 44th Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49512 United States
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