Have you been tasked with buying color for a new product line or prototype but are unsure where to even begin? Color matching is an essential & often underappreciated aspect of the manufacturing process and can have significant effects on production; getting the colors right is essential for creating a consistent brand identity and ensuring customer satisfaction. We have listed some factors to consider when purchasing color:

1.Variations in lighting: Lighting conditions can have a significant impact on how we perceive color. Even small variations in the type, intensity, and angle of light can affect the appearance of a color. This can make it difficult to achieve consistent results across different lighting conditions.

As a best practice, we recommend creating data sheets and listing all other specs related to the requested colorant materials available to eliminate the possibility that lighting can impact the color.

2.Human perception: Color perception is subjective and can vary from person to person. This means that what one person perceives as a perfect match, another may not. Human perception can also be affected by factors such as fatigue, age, and color blindness.

If forced to make a visual judgement call, you should consider calibrating your screens and using color management software to ensure that the colors seen on the screen are as accurate as possible.

3.Material properties: Different materials can absorb and reflect light differently, which can affect the appearance of color. Additionally, the texture, gloss, and translucency of a material can impact how light is reflected, making it challenging to achieve accurate color matches across different materials.

Familiarize yourself with the most popular polymers, the compound characteristics needed, and the effects these properties can have on color. Check out our resources page which has convenient data sheets on polymer types and properties. You may want to choose your colorant based on who is doing the compounding as well. At PCC we handle both aspects to ensure consistent quality batches.

4.Pigment variability: Pigments can vary in terms of their particle size, distribution, and concentration, which can affect the appearance of color. Additionally, pigments can be sensitive to temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors, which can cause them to degrade or change over time.

Know your requirements and the different quality standards of manufacturers – consider the requirements and conditions your material will be subjected to. High quality pigments often come with a higher price tag, so carefully consider a supplier that will have strict quality control measures.

5.Colorant compatibility: Different colorants can interact with each other in unpredictable ways, making it difficult to achieve accurate color matches when using multiple colorants or additives.

Your understanding of the color wheel and color theory is critical when determining what analogous and complementary colors to use for your product. A basic understanding of how color intensity, hues, and contrast can affect visual impact is also helpful. Ultimately, color compatibility is subjective so understanding the tastes and preferences of the intended audience is crucial.

Additionally, we at PCC have identified another variable that plays a crucial role & relates to us on the supply side – Lead times!

Lead times: Due to supply chain disruptions becoming commonplace, lead times cannot be overlooked especially with time-bound production quotas. Variables such as demand/supply issues, pricing, and new client/brand directives can quickly become an expensive lesson if inaccurate color matching occurs.

Choose your colorant supplier carefully – keep in mind production volume, the production process, and logistics. It’s also a good idea to combine needs and identify a supplier that can both color and compound your desired polymer so that quality control is ensured. Being both a colorant & compounder, we at PCC have recognized the importance of maintaining high quality control and the powerful effect accurate color matching can have on market appeal and brand identity.

Accurate color matching is crucial regardless of production volume or company size – it impacts consistency, quality, efficiency, and cost. According to a study by X-Rite, manufacturers that prioritize color management and accuracy can benefit from increased customer satisfaction, improved brand reputation, and reduced production costs. And who wouldn’t want to achieve these metrics in our current economy?

We hope this guide has helped identify (and clarify) the significance of accurate color matching and common challenges when it comes to purchasing color. Keep in mind that to effectively safeguard your production pipeline, it is good practice to have a pre-approved secondary supplier in place to prevent any last-minute fire drills Whether you’d like a simple quote or have a question unique to you, feel free to reach out to our friendly experts that will assist in whatever way they can. At PCC we see color as a service – not just a product – so we’d love to learn what is important to you.