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Colour measurement | materials testing


Peter Mapleston looks at a range of colour measurement devices from the latest hand-held spectrophotometers through to systems for measuring the colour of compounds as they are produced


Perfect match: colour measurement in the lab and on the factory fl oor


The full power of colour measurement technology is being unleashed in new systems now available to plastics compounders. Advances in interfaces make the latest handheld devices much easier to use for quality control and formulation purposes, and new software also simplifi es the creation of new compounds. On the production fl oor, colour measurements are starting to be used in closed-loop control systems for feeders to automatically keep production inside tolerances. But possibly most exciting of all, colour is increasingly being used as a prime indicator of the overall state of health of the production line.


This year’s models Datacolor launched its Check 3 portable spectropho- tometer earlier this year. The company says that the new model features a totally new design compared with the Check II, with a new user interface and an easy-to- navigate colour LCD display. The Check 3 is intended for formulation work and for


quality control, normally checking colour on moulded plaques, but also granules. Cheryl Johnston, product marketing manager for portable instruments, says key features include its ability to maintain exceptional measurement performance in terms of repeatability and inter-instrument agreement. Data produced by unit is also backward-compatible


with existing portable and bench-top equipment from Datacolor. “This means that users can use the Check 3 without having to go back into their systems and carry out any standard re-measurements,” says Johnston. “All instruments use the same spectrometer and they are all correlated to the same physical master by Datacolor.” Johnston says that in terms of ease of use, the


Check 3 is a signifi cant step forward, particularly thanks www.compoundingworld.com


to its large colour LCD. She also highlights the illuminated sample viewing port that enables the user to see the sample directly through the sphere to enable precise positioning. The portability of the Check 3 means that it can if necessary be used on the shop fl oor for QC, as well as in the lab for formulation work. Ambient lighting conditions are not important, since the unit is in direct contact with the sample and excludes any extraneous light. The Check 3, like all Datacolor Check units,


allows the user to select the appropriate aperture size according to the sample being analyzed. There are three apertures – 2.5, 6.5 and 11 mm – and users can choose any combination of those three. The unit can be used tethered to a computer,


but wireless connection is also possible via Bluetooth. A keyboard or a barcode scanner can be connected over the USB port. Development has focused on operation


rather than core technology. “Customers tell us that the accuracy and repeatability of our instruments really does meet their needs, so we have focused more on improving effi ciency and ease of use,” Johnston says. Datacolor has also been improving its Match Pigment software. It introduced version 3 last year. Speed of colour prediction is now around three times as fast as before. Alok Verma, market manager, global product management, says: “With so many ingredients in the average compound, it is useful to not have to go through the


July 2015 | COMPOUNDING WORLD 19


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