by Mike McDaniel
As a custom manufacturer with a specialty in printing, the first step on a new project at GM Nameplate is often color matching. Usually customers will have a color sample that they require for the projects. From there we can begin the process of color matching.
This first step in color matching is to store the chromaticity values in the spectrophotometer. After creating a color match in the needed ink system, another color reading will need to be taken. An accurate color match shouldn’t have any visual difference when viewed by the human eye. A more accurate reading should be taken by the spectrophotometer as well, to ensure that the color values are as close as possible.
Sometimes using a different ink than the one used in the customer's sample can result in color that we can’t match. If this happens, the ink is adjusted to reach the closest visual color match possible. This color will be sent to the customer for approval. Once the match has customer approval, it will be stored in the spectrophotometer as the color standard for the part.
There are many factors that can make an accurate color match difficult, most commonly the material and texture. The ink system must be created around the material you’ll be using for the part. It’s essential that you pick your material first, before you begin the color matching process. If the part has a unique texture it is also best to figure out the texture before beginning to match color.
Layer of colors can also complicate the color matching process, as discussed in the article on printing automotive instrument panels. It’s important to determine the number of passes necessary for the needed opacity. The only way to verify that each color layer is an accurate match is to print the sample in the same sequence of colors that the job will be printed in production, and then take a reading on the spectrophotometer.
Below are photos of the color matching process. Ink is mixed and samples are tested until the right color is found.