Color Consistency in Art Papers Helps Paper Manufacturers Meet the Needs of Printmakers
art papers
Accurate color measurement tools can help you test your paper for color and consistency, resulting in a higher-quality final product. Image source: Pexels user Tim Gouw

While visiting a friend’s home, I noticed an enormous, beautiful painting hanging above the fireplace. Up close, I could see what looked like real paint clinging to the surface of the paper and assumed that I was looking at the original work of art. But when I asked my friend who painted the piece, she responded, “Oh, that’s actually a print! The artist was selling three of them just like it.”

Even if you can’t afford a $179 million Picasso, you can still get an excellent copy of that same painting for as little as a few hundred dollars, often much less.1. Yet not all art prints are worth hanging on your walls. The quality of the print paper has a huge impact on the appearance of the final piece; the color, opacity, and texture of the paper all affect how the inks and paints will appear once printed onto the final product. Color measurement tools can be used by paper manufacturers to ensure that each blank sheet of paper will allow printmakers to produce their ideal images.

art papers
Reproductions of famous art pieces should be printed on paper that will make the colors appear most like the original. Image source: Wikimedia Katsushika Hokusai

Why the Color of Art Papers Matters

All papers can affect the final appearance of art prints; CMYK inks, for example, will look warmer when they are printed on cream-colored paper, whereas they will appear cooler in tone when printed on paper that leans more toward the blue end of the scale. Color discrepancies become even more apparent on darker-colored papers; generally, the richer and darker the paper is, the more it will impact the final look of the ink on the art print.2 As such, printmakers must carefully consider the specific interactions between materials in order to produce their desired colors and seek out the papers that will allow them to create their ideal hues.

Printmakers place a great degree of trust in the paper manufacturing industry because the quality of their product depends on a harmonious marriage between pigment and paper. If printmakers see a sample of a particular sheet of colored paper, then they expect that their future paper order will match that color exactly. Any small variation in hue or color consistency could cause art printmakers to lose trust in your paper products, as such variation can interfere with your customer’s ability to create the images they want. For example, a paper with too much yellow can make blue tones appear more teal or green than the printmaker intends, compromising the integrity of the image. Imagine van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” but with a dull green sky, rather than a rich navy blue.

art papers
Original paintings have fine brushstroke details that are difficult to show in a copied print. Image source: Pixabay user BonnieHenderson

The Value of Spectrophotometric Color Measurement

Regardless of which type of paper you manufacture, from slick, coated poster paper used for mass-produced reproduction prints to heavily textured products popular for limited-edition fine art prints, a spectrophotometer is an essential tool for creating papers that meet the needs of your customers. A spectrophotometer gives you extraordinary insight into the color of your papers, allowing you to perfect your processing methods and ensure consistent, accurate coloration. These versatile instruments can be integrated at various critical parts in your manufacturing process as well as used to evaluate the behavior of your products post-manufacturing, creating an end-to-end color quality control system.

Paper manufacturing involves a wide variety of materials and processes that can impact the final appearance of your products, and monitoring color throughout can help you maintain your ideal hues. Factors that impact color include coatings, sizing, and the dyes, brightening agents, or other colorant additives that you use to color your paper. By performing a spectrophotometric evaluation of the paper color during each applicable step in your manufacturing process, you can analyze whether your paper conforms to color expectations, or if you notice any inconsistencies. By instantly alerting you to unwanted color variation, spectrophotometers allow you to take early corrective action, optimizing production efficiency.

Once you’ve ensured that your paper is consistent in color upon production, you must also test for color stability. When it comes to making quality art prints, the color of the paper needs to be stable in color over time in order to preserve the integrity of the artwork, particularly for those customers seeking archival quality.3 An art print will likely hang on someone’s wall for years, perhaps even decades, and as such, it needs to maintain correct coloration even when exposed to environmental stressors like UV radiation, humidity, and heat. To ensure that your paper can withstand these stressors, you may expose a sample of the paper to an artificial aging environment, then measure the impact on color stability and determine whether reformulation is necessary to optimize durability. For example, these tests may alert you to improper lignin removal, allowing you to modify your processing methods to improve color stability and ensure that your customers will be able to use your papers as intended.

HunterLab Reliability

HunterLab has been a pioneer in the field of color measurement for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive line-up of spectrophotometers ideally suited for our customers in the paper industry. Our state-of-the-art instruments and customizable color measurement software packages provide our clients with the highest degree of insight into their products, allowing for meticulous color consistency. Contact us to learn more about how HunterLab spectrophotometers can enhance your paper production process.

  1. “Picasso Painting Fetches $179 Million at Auction”, May 11, 2015, https://www.wsj.com/articles/picasso-painting-fetches-179-million-in-auction-1431388226
  2. “Dare to Print on Colored Paper Stock”, January 17, 2007, https://creativepro.com/paper-tips-dare-to-print-on-colored-paper-stock/
  3. “A Consumer Guide to Traditional and Digital Print Stability”, https://www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org/webfm_send/313
Choosing the Best Spectrophotometer for Measuring Glitter and Sequin Color
glitter and sequin color
The best spectrophotometer for measuring glitter or sequins is an instrument that can accommodate glossy surfaces. Image Source: Unsplash user Mink Mingle

A fashion designer needs the perfect rose gold sequin fabric to create shiny, beautiful gowns for an upcoming runway show. To make his vision a reality, he wants the tiny sequins to be completely uniform in shape and color from one piece to the next, making it appear as though his models are wearing liquid gold. However, this isn’t a simple task; any slight variation in the sequins’ color or shine could stand out on the gowns, making them appear less than perfect. Imagine seeing a few random chunks of muddy brown sequins clashing against the bright, rosy gold pattern—the result is a gown that, from a distance, looks as though it has holes in it.

To prevent this problem, manufacturers of sequins and glitter must employ sophisticated color measurement technologies in their quality control processes. Measuring the color of glitter and sequins can be challenging because they are very reflective products. Modern spectrophotometric instruments, however, are capable of seeing through this sheen in order to detect the true color of the product and ensure that your products live up to your—and your customers’—expectations.

Why Color Consistency Matters

Glitter and sequins are used in a wide range of industries, from the tiny flakes of sparkle that you see in certain nail polishes, to the bright, reflective finish on an ice skater’s costume. These shiny pieces of plastic and metal also have industrial applications, including uses in flooring, solvents, and boat finishes.1 However, the quality of your products determines how many applications they will likely have in the real world. Because glitter and sequins are often applied in detailed, intricate patterns on products like fabrics, flooring, and even cosmetics, color consistency is vital. Without stringent color quality control, sequin and glitter manufacturers may produce sheets of product that vary in color, resulting in obvious aesthetic flaws in their end-use applications.

glitter and sequin color
Brightly-colored sequins and glitter need to be consistent in color, especially if they’re being used to make fabric for clothing. Image Source: Wikimedia user Sherrie Thai

Gloss Poses Challenges for Color Assessment

In order to find the best spectrophotometer for your products, keep in mind that the color of sequins and glitter can be challenging to accurately measure. Glitter and sequins get their shine from a thin coating of metallic material. Most manufacturers start with a thin sheet of PVC film, PET film, or, occasionally, sheets that are coated with a thin layer of silver or aluminum. Regardless of which base a manufacturer uses for sequins and glitter, manufacturers create color patterns by sandwiching thin sheets of colored plastic or acrylic on top of the internal glossy layer. In some cases, the manufacturer may paint a translucent coat of ink over the sheet to create a solid color.2

This process gives glitter and sequins their signature gloss. Light penetrates through the thin, translucent color on top of the sequin or glitter, and then it hits the underlying metal or reflective plastic sandwiched in-between the colored coatings.3  The light bounces against the reflective surface inside and reflects back at the viewer, resulting in a shiny finish.

While beautiful, the glossy surface of glitter and sequins present challenges for accurate color assessment. This is due to the fact that the shine can easily trick the eye into thinking that the color is lighter than it actually is. Take a look at an image of a sequin fabric, and you’ll see that each individual piece appears to be a different color—sequins facing the light source head-on appear almost pure white, whereas those facing away from the light appear far darker. In order to obtain an accurate reading of a raw sheet of sequin or glitter product, you have to use a spectrophotometer capable of seeing through this glossy finish.

glitter and sequin color
Because sequins are made with very reflective sheets of raw material, you should use color measurement instruments that can exclude this reflected light. Image Source: Pexels user suzukii xingfu

The Best Spectrophotometers for Measuring Sequins and Glitter

To overcome the challenges of color assessments inherent to sequins and glitter, you need to use a spectrophotometer that is equipped to measure color in reflectance-specular included (RSIN) mode. RSIN mode allows you to quantify true color irrespective of geometric attributes like gloss that can interfere with color appearance. Diffuse/8° sphere spectrophotometers, or spherical instruments, are designed to support RSIN measurements to ensure accurate, consistent coloration. In contrast, directional 45°/0° spectrophotometers only allow for measurements in reflectance-specular excluded (RSEX) mode, which include the effects of geometric attributes. This means that they measure appearance rather than quantifying color in isolation.

It’s important to note that spectrophotometric color measurement must be performed while your sequin or glitter product is still in the raw sheet stage. This is due to the fact that these instruments can more accurately measure color on solid-colored sample sheets rather than tiny, individual flecks of glitter or sequins. As such, you should always perform color quality control before you cut through your colored sheets. Once you’ve determined that the color on the sheet falls within your color standard, you can then focus on cutting your product into your desired shapes.

HunterLab Innovation

Whether you’re creating small pieces of glitter for cosmetics customers or need to craft large sequins for fabric manufacturers, you need a spectrophotometer capable of meeting the challenges presented by glossy materials. Every industry that uses glitter and sequins expects to receive a uniform product that will allow them to manufacture their own products to the highest standard. With more than 60 years of experience helping companies find the perfect color measurement tools for their needs, HunterLab can offer you instruments and software packages that will make measuring your glitter and sequins a simple, streamlined process. Contact us to learn more about our innovative color measurement technologies and let us help you find the perfect tools for your needs.

  1. “How Glitter Is Made”, https://www.glittermyworld.com/how-glitter-is-made.html
  2. “What Makes Glitter Sparkle?”, https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-makes-glitter-sparkle
  3. “Five Sparkling Facts About Glitter”, August 16, 2016, http://mentalfloss.com/article/84561/5-sparkling-facts-about-sequins
Color Measurement Solutions for Dark Roast Coffee Enhance Flavor
dark roast coffee
Color measurement solutions like spectrophotometers help you spot the difference between a dark bean and a burnt one. Image Source: MaxPixel user Nikon D7100

Although lighter roasts have a greater number of flavors than dark roasts, the reality is that many customers still prefer dark roast coffee. In fact, an estimated 42 percent of consumers drink dark roast coffee each day, compared to just 15 percent of consumers who drink light roast coffee.1 This is why many coffee manufacturers choose to make both styles of beans in an effort to cover the full spectrum of the market.

However, just because these dark roast drinkers prefer a bolder coffee doesn’t mean that they want their coffee to taste burnt. To cater to the large population of dark coffee drinkers in the United States and perfect your roasts, you need to have a system of color measurement solutions designed specifically for coffee beans. After all, just a few minutes too long on the roaster could mean the difference between a bold, dark bean and a burnt one.

dark roast coffee
Some beans are so dark in color that it’s difficult to tell whether they’ve been roasted for too long. Image Source: Wikimedia user Dan Bollinger

Darker Coffee Bean Shades Pose Challenges

Color measurement solutions are essential for coffee roasting because there’s a strong link between a coffee’s color and its flavor. The lighter the roasted beans are, the fruitier and sweeter the resulting coffee will be, whereas darker roasts start to lose these light, fruity flavors. In a dark roast, certain flavors in the coffee, such as chocolate-like notes, become stronger, while more subtle flavors, like fruit, disappear. However, if you roast your beans for too long, even these strong chocolate flavors begin to turn bitter, resulting in an unpleasant, burnt taste.

The challenge of dark roast coffee is that when you get into the darkest end of the color scale, it’s much more difficult to spot the differences between a bean that’s extremely dark brown in color and one that’s veering into the black end of the scale. As a product’s color approaches the darkest shades that the human eye is capable of seeing, some available visual light is absorbed.2 When this happens, it’s harder to spot differences because the beans appear too dark to accurately detect subtle hues of brown within the black. What’s more, even when you compare dark roast coffee beans to a standard color sheet, most beans are going to lie somewhere between that ideal color and the color next to it. The accuracy of color measurement solutions that rely on the human eye alone are often biased; one viewer might see a dark bean that appears closer to the ideal color on the color scale card, while another might see a bean that’s closer to the “burnt” end of the scale.

The Fine Line Between Dark and Burnt Beans

Small inconsistencies in color perception add up over time and could have serious consequences for your company. To start, inconsistent roasts could make your company appear less reliable to consumers, which may impact your sales in the future. A new customer may be impressed with your company’s ability to craft a dark roast that doesn’t taste burnt the first time, but if the next package that they buy from you is too deeply roasted, they may be afraid to buy coffee from you again. It’s also important to remember that, while dark roast coffee beans can appear nearly identical in color to burnt beans, there is a significant difference in flavor. It’s true that a quality dark roast coffee will have fewer flavors than lighter roasts, but that doesn’t mean that all dark roasts are flavorless and bitter.3 The goal is to achieve a bold profile and full-bodied feel without making your coffee taste like bitter charcoal.

dark roast coffee
A coffee spectrophotometer can accurately measure the grounds of your beans to determine whether the roast is too dark, or just right. Image Source: MaxPixel user Canon EOS 70d

Use Spectrophotometers Specifically Designed for Coffee

To achieve a sufficiently dark (not burnt) roast and eliminate bias in your color measurement protocols, you’ll need to combine a coffee-specific spectrophotometer with the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) color measurement scale. By using both of these methods, you can use your industry’s standards and get accurate, easy-to-read data from your spectrophotometer that adheres to these standards.

Many coffee manufacturers use the SCAA scale to determine whether their beans are roasted perfectly. This scale uses colored tiles that are numbered according to how dark the beans are. When you use the scale, you’ll see that the darkest roast (tile #25) appears nearly black in color against a white background. Yet when you set this tile up against a black background, you’ll notice that it’s actually a very dark brown. When you roast coffee, you’ll want your beans to be slightly lighter than this darkest shade on the scale. Beans that are darker than tile #25 tend to taste bitter and burnt, even when you use the highest quality beans.

By using a specialty spectrophotometer like the ColorFlex EZ Coffee instrument, you can accurately measure the exact hue of your beans and the spectrophotometer will automatically match this reading to a corresponding SCAA tile number. In addition to providing you with the exact tile number, the instrument can also give you SCAA roast classification data or HunterLab’s proprietary coffee color index (the HCCI). You don’t need to install these components separately; each coffee spectrophotometer comes equipped with this firmware already installed. By combining these specialty scales with accurate 45°/0° measurement geometry, coffee manufacturers never have to rely on the human eye to test their coffee. Rather than using human testers, who are naturally biased and experience frequent flaws in color perception, this coffee spectrophotometer remains consistent over time and gives you clear data on exactly where your coffee falls, no matter what scale you use.

HunterLab Innovation

If you’re interested in perfecting your own dark roast in order to attract more customers, you can start by integrating spectrophotometric color measurement solutions in your coffee roasting process. Contact HunterLab to find out more about our coffee-specific instruments. We can provide you with detailed information about every color scale we use to ensure quality control in every roast and can help you find the perfect solution for your company’s needs. Our experts will walk you through the instrument’s specifications, as well as how to install this spectrophotometer in your test lab. With our expert staff on your side, you’ll create a bold, rich dark roast that your customers will love.

  1. “Share of U.S. Coffee Consumers By Coffee Roast”, January 2017, https://www.statista.com/statistics/323434/share-of-us-coffee-consumers-by-coffee-roast/
  2. “Colors of Light”, April 4, 2012, https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/47-colours-of-light
  3. “Myths About Dark Roast Coffee”, April 20, 2013, http://www.huladaddy.com/articles/myths-about-dark-roast-coffee.htm
Using Spectrophotometers to Create Consistency in Colored Contact Lenses
colored contact lenses
Spectrophotometers can help you determine how translucent or opaque your contact lens pigmentation is, improving quality. Image Source: Unsplash user Daniil Avilov

Using colored contact lenses, a professional cosplayer is able to completely transform her appearance within seconds. One moment, she’s a brunette with rich brown eyes. But after popping on a pair of bright purple contact lenses (with a wig to match), she suddenly transforms into a cartoonish alien character that barely resembles herself.

Since the invention of cosmetic colored contact lenses in 1969, cosplayers, makeup artists, Halloween trick-or-treaters, and everyday contact lens users have used colored contacts to alter their original eye color.1 However, in order to completely cover someone’s natural eye color, these contact lenses need to have enough pigment to hide the iris’ original hue. This can be a complicated and difficult process for manufacturers; if they don’t inject enough pigment into the lens, the final effect will look muddy while injecting too much may look unnatural. Even if you’re making semi-translucent lenses that are only meant to enhance the wearer’s natural eye color, pigment accuracy is still vital. You have to ensure that the colors look subtle, appealing, and completely natural. Analyzing your lenses using spectrophotometric instrumentation helps you achieve the perfect pigment balance to ensure your customers can create their ideal look.

colored contact lenses
Unusual patterns are almost always made using fully-opaque contact lens dyes. Image Source: Wikimedia user Anime Evolution

Lens Pigmentation Can Be Hard to See Using the Naked Eye

There are three types of colored contact lenses currently available on the market: visibility tint, enhancement tint, and opaque tint.2 Visibility tint is very subtle, and it’s designed to retain the eye’s original color while it’s worn. These aren’t cosmetic lenses—they are only lightly colored so that wearers can see the contact lens more easily during removal and insertion. Meanwhile, cosmetic lens manufacturers use a stronger enhancement tint or opaque tint to make their products, depending on the desired effect. Enhancement tint amps up the natural colors of the eye; if you have green eyes, a green enhancement lens will make them appear even more vividly emerald. These lenses have a slightly translucent look. By comparison, opaque tinted contacts are far more dense with pigment, and you often can’t see through the colored portions of the lens at all. These are designed for true eye color transformation—with these, your eyes can change from hazel brown to sky blue instantly.

It can be difficult to judge the true color of these three tints using your naked eye alone. Visibility and enhancement tints are so subtle that they may initially appear too light on the lens when inspected by a human viewer. If you overcorrect for this, you could produce an unnatural-looking lens that your customers won’t find appealing. An opaque lens is slightly easier to judge based on appearance since the colors are more vibrant, but even then it’s hard to know whether there’s true color penetration or if there are some patchy spots in the lens where the color didn’t come through. This is why you need spectrophotometric instrumentation to help you determine whether your lenses are correctly colored.

Spectrophotometers Help You Create the Right Hue

Although some customers prefer their lenses to have a more natural look, others like to experiment with unusual patterns or colors that you would never find in nature. The problem with creating these types of lenses from scratch is that it’s very difficult to know how the lens will appear once it’s being worn by the customer.3 It may look opaque on the surface, but when it’s inserted, the colors may not appear as vibrant as you thought. Or, you may create the perfect colored contact lens, but when you try to repeat the process during mass production, there may be too much variability in color and quality.

To fix this problem, you should use a spectrophotometer as part of your quality control process, especially when you pick out your original dye. These instruments are useful for determining how saturated the tint will be before you inject it into the lens and whether the color is locked into place properly shortly after injection. Spectrophotometers can detect even slight changes in hue between two different dye samples. Using this method, you can ensure that every colored contact you release is perfectly colored and allows your customers to achieve their desired effect. After all, a pink-eyed demon costume isn’t nearly as fearsome as a red-eyed one. Just a small difference in hue can completely change the costume’s effect.

colored contact lenses
Customers expect to receive contact lenses that are true to color; variations in color are a sign of low quality and can ruin a costume look. Image Source: Wikimedia user איתן טל

Loss of Pigment Happens During Disinfection

To make any type of colored contact lens, manufacturers usually diffuse an eye-safe colored dye into the hydrogel that forms the shape of the lens. On one side of the lens, the dye penetrates directly into the hydrogel for the most opaque results. On the other side, the manufacturer adds a layer of precipitant. By doing this, the two sides meet in the middle of the lens, but the dye stops before it can fully penetrate the precipitant side. From here, another layer of hydrogel or polymer is added on top of the dye side, sandwiching the color in the center. This gives the lens its rich color without risking contact between the eye and the dye. However, this process doesn’t always go according to plan, especially when you disinfect the lenses before you ship them off to customers.

The chemicals used during disinfection often cause a slight loss in color opacity, especially if there isn’t enough dye penetration in the hydrogel. Using a spectrophotometer,you can evaluate the impact of your disinfection processes on the color of your product. To do this, test your lenses before they go through disinfection, and then compare that measurement to the post-disinfection color measurement. If you properly trapped your dye between the layers of hydrogel, then you’ll see little, if any, change in color. But if you didn’t seal the dye properly, you will see a major difference in hue, compromising the appeal of the lens.

HunterLab Reliability

Whether you’re creating natural-looking, subtle contact lenses for people who want to make their eyes stand out, or you’re crafting custom costume designs unlike anything your customers have ever seen, we can help you find all of the tools that you need. Our dedication to color quality control makes us one of the best resources in the world for industries that require a great deal of precision, like contact lens manufacturers. Contact us today to find out more about how our spectrophotometers can improve your products.

  1. “History of Colored Contact Lenses”, https://www.contactlenses.co.uk/education/EHC_Left_menu/contact_lenses/history_of_coloured_contact_lenses.htm
  2. “Color Contact Lenses”, October 26, 2017, http://www.allaboutvision.com/contacts/colors.htm
  3. “Colored Contact Lenses for Brown Eyes”, https://eyecandys.com/pages/colored-contacts-for-brown-eyes
Use Haze Measurement and Color Scales to Monitor Fish Oil Quality
fish oil quality
Haze measurement tools can help you determine whether your fish oil ingredients are fresh. Image Source: Unsplash user Jakub Kapusnak

In 2012, fish oil and other omega-3 fatty acid supplements were the most popular natural product used by consumers in the United States and the number of fish oil users is still growing.1 Between 2007 and 2012, about 8 million more adults began using fish oil supplements to relieve health symptoms ranging from arthritis to high blood pressure. However, because so many people rely on fish oil supplements and fortified foods to improve their health, it’s vital that vitamin manufacturers maintain strict quality standards. Taking an oxidized or spoiled fish oil pill could result in greater health problems for your customers and profoundly damage your brand’s reputation. By using haze and color measurement to test your oil in advance, you ensure that your customers only get the freshest, purest supplements possible, allowing your company to change people’s lives for the better.

Haze Measurement Can Detect Spoilage

There are many tests that can help you determine fish oil quality, one of which involves haze measurement. A spectrophotometer that’s capable of measuring haze can tell you a great deal about the quality of your fish oil before you pour it inside of your gel capsules. Generally, you want to purchase bulk fish oil that appears clear at room temperature; cloudiness may be a sign of spoilage. However, high-quality, unspoiled fish oil contains saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, which may appear cloudy when they are exposed to the cold. This is not the result of low-quality oil; in fact, supplements that contain fresh, whole fish oil experience this freezing problem more so than those with added fillers like lemon or synthetic triglyceride oil.2

Just because fish oil naturally contains hazy fatty acids doesn’t mean that haze measurement tests are completely useless for quality control. Excessive cloudiness at room temperature is still a sign of spoiled fish oil. Knowing this, you should always test your raw ingredients for cloudiness throughout the manufacturing process. When you first receive raw fish oil from your preferred source, you need to set a base haze measurement standard to ensure that the oil isn’t too old to use. Fish spoils relatively quickly compared to other perishables, so it’s common for fish oil sources to mistakenly sell vitamin companies spoiled ingredients.3 When you first receive your oil shipments, you should use a spectrophotometer to test the oil’s haze at room temperature. If the oil is cloudier than your haze standard, you should request a new shipment.

fish oil quality
A high-quality fish oil capsule should be clear, not cloudy, at room temperature. Image Source: Pixnio user PPD

Fish Oil Color and Quality Are Linked

In addition to haze measurement considerations, color could mean the difference between a high-quality fish oil supplement and one that could make a consumer ill.4 As such, you’ll need to test for two different color standards when you craft your fish oil supplements: natural color and oxidation.

First, it’s important to remember that different types of fish will secrete oils that are slightly different in color, depending on the species. For instance, salmon flesh has a naturally pink-orange hue because wild salmon eat a great deal of krill. If you use whole, wild salmon in your fish oil supplements, your oil will likely be a vibrant golden orange color. By contrast, if you use a whole fish with white flesh, your supplements will appear more straw yellow in color. To test properly for color, you’ll need to consider what the natural colors of the fish are and compare it to the oil you receive from your source.

You also need to test your fish oil for signs of oxidation. In addition to a cloudy appearance, oxidized fish oil will sometimes have a rancid smell, but this isn’t always obvious in the early stages of spoilage. Using a spectrophotometer, you can detect even the slightest change of color in your oil. As the oil oxidizes, it will begin to turn brown or even red in color. If you detect these hues with your spectrophotometer, you might consider ordering a new batch of oil, as the test batch was likely exposed to the air for too long or is older than your source claims. You can also analyze whether your oil is uneven or splotchy, which is also a sign of oxidation. Fresh oil should be consistent, and golden yellow, rather than brown or red, in color.

fish oil quality
Different colored fish will produce different colored oils. Image Source: Unsplash user chuttersnap

Spectrophotometers Are Capable of Measuring Haze and Color

Choosing a spectrophotometer that is capable of both haze and color measurements can greatly improve the efficiency of your quality control protocols. The Vista spectrophotometer can measure both haze and color simultaneously, meaning that you only have to buy one tool for both types of measurements and you only have to test your samples once. With this tool, you can measure the transmission color of food and vitamin products using color scales such as Pt-Co/Hazen/APHA, Gardner Colour and four different Pharmacopoeia standards (from the U.S., E.U., China and Japan). This instrument is designed with longevity, accuracy, and flexibility in mind, making it the perfect choice for the ever-evolving vitamin and supplement industry. To use this tool, you simply install it once, and all of the haze measurement and color scales you need come pre-equipped in the device’s software. There’s no need to install additional tools to get started.

HunterLab Quality

Contact HunterLab today to get started on testing your fish oil quality with the Vista spectrophotometer, or any other haze and color measurement tools that you may need. We have more than 60 years of experience working within the food industry to ensure that companies produce the highest quality products on the market. Since each vitamin and supplement company has slightly different needs, our experts will walk you through exactly what you need to measure your fish oil capsules properly, including creating a customized testing protocol for every step of the manufacturing process. Our superb customer support and decades of experience have allowed us to become one of the leading spectrophotometer providers in the nation.

  1. “Use of Complementary Health Approaches in the U.S.”, September 24, 2017, https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/NHIS/2012/natural-products/omega3
  2. “The Definitive Fish Oil Buyer’s Guide”, May 24, 2010, https://chriskresser.com/the-definitive-fish-oil-buyers-guide/
  3. “How to Detect Spoiled Fish Oil”, http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/detect-spoiled-fish-oil-5039.html
  4. “Fish As Food, Volume 1”, December 2, 2012, https://books.google.com/books?id=yl9o_N3hGrgC&dq=color+of+fish+oil+depends+on+fish&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Improve Paintball Vibrancy Using a Color Spectrophotometer
paintball color
A color spectrophotometer can help you create bright, pigmented paintballs that can be seen from a great distance. Image source: Flickr user Lori Ho

The leaves of a nearby tree rustle as a tiny orange paintball whizzes toward its target. Milliseconds later, the thin gel capsule bursts onto the target’s deep green camouflage jacket, spreading neon orange paint all over his shoulder. The paint is so bright and vibrant that you can easily spot it, even from hundreds of feet away; every player in the vicinity immediately knows that the paint-splattered player is officially out of the game.

In a paintball competition, the vibrancy of the paint is often the only thing that keeps players honest.1 The only way to determine whether a player is out of the game is to see whether they’re covered in paint—if this paint is too dull, the game’s judges may not see it. This is why the most trusted paintball manufacturers are those who focus on crafting the most vibrant ammunition on the market. Using a color spectrophotometer, you can ensure that your paintballs are opaque and impossible to miss, which in turn will earn you a high degree of respect in the competitive paintball community.

paintball color
Most paintballs contain neon dyes because these show up more clearly against dark camouflage gear. Image source: Wikimedia user BraNewbz

Quality Paintballs Require Vibrant, Water-Based Dye

To manufacture quality paintballs, you need to find a delicate balance between color vibrancy and washability. Generally, the fill inside of a paintball is made from a water-soluble dye surrounded by polyethylene glycol.2 Because the dye is water-soluble, it can be washed off fairly easily, which is ideal for paintball enthusiasts who need a fresh, paint-free set of camouflage clothes every time they play. However, if you make your paintballs too water-soluble or washable, you risk creating a product that most competitive paintballers will find useless. It’s too easy to wipe these types of dyes off of your paintball gear before it has the chance to settle. Some paintball players cheat by wiping off poorly-made paintball dye before anyone sees that they were hit.

While lower-quality paintballs use dull, oil-based colors that are naturally slippery and easier to wipe off, high-end paintballs never use oil as a base for their colors. Instead, quality paintball manufacturers use deeply pigmented, non-toxic water-soluble dyes that will cling more strongly to clothes without permanently staining them. In order to find the best ingredients possible for your paintballs, you’ll first need to measure the vibrancy of these water-soluble dyes using a color spectrophotometer. Many spectrophotometers can measure the precise color of your paintball fill, as well as its opacity. Your goal is to create a paintball fill that is completely opaque, even when spread in a relatively thin layer, but that still washes off in a washing machine.3

Test Your Paint Colors Against Camouflage

Once you’ve found the most opaque dyes for your paintball fill, you’ll also want to test these colors against some of the most popular camouflage patterns on the market. Most serious paintball competitions require players to wear dark clothing, so you should begin by testing a thin swatch of your paintball fill against a dark sample background. Using a color spectrophotometer, you can easily see whether your paintball fill lost opacity or color vibrancy after being spread against a dark piece of cloth. Most bright, neon colors, such as orange, yellow or red, will contrast well against a dark sample background—this is also why most paintballs are made using one of these three colors.4

However, other colors, like purple, blue or certain shades of green, may not show up as easily against purple, blue, and green backgrounds. This is why it’s especially important to test these three shades using a color spectrophotometer. You may find, for instance, that your neon purple paintball dye appears vibrant when it bursts open on a white background, but when it hits a dark green or black camouflage jacket, the purple isn’t as visible. The complex pattern on some camouflage jackets may also disguise your paintball colors. Your best insurance against dull paintballs is to test all of your colors using a color spectrophotometer in advance and to observe how each new color formula performs against a variety of camouflage backgrounds. As an added benefit, if you manage to create consistent, truly vibrant versions of relatively rare paintball colors, like purple or blue, you may attract more customers in the process.

paintball color
Color consistency is important for paintballs because players rely on every round in order to win the game. Image source: Pixabay user padefiance

Use a Color Spectrophotometer to Achieve Consistency

Unlike many other competitive sports, where the game is relatively easy to watch and judge, paintball competitions tend to be more chaotic. Most players are hiding behind trees or other objects, and from a distance, it’s hard to see whether a player actually got hit, or if the shooter missed by a few inches. In this type of environment, color consistency is absolutely essential — just one poorly-made paintball could cause a team to lose the entire game. If the paintball hits, but the color doesn’t stick to the target’s clothes, or the paint isn’t visible against the camouflage, the target may not get called out of the game.

By measuring your paintballs using a color spectrophotometer, you do more than just perfect your initial formula and neon color palate; you can also test every future box of ammunition for color consistency. By having a specific, data-driven color standard for each type of color in your product line, you can test your future products against this standard to protect against unwanted color variation and detect process errors. For instance, if you see that your rich, neon orange dye suddenly appears lighter in color than usual, you can quickly diagnose the problem and re-mix your dye formula before these faulty products end up in your customer’s hands. By focusing on color consistency, you show your customers that you care about quality above all else and that your paintballs will always be reliable.

HunterLab Quality

HunterLab’s spectrophotometers are among the most reliable instruments on the market for measuring paint and dye color. For more than 60 years, our company has created solutions to challenges faced by a wide range of industries, including those that work with paint and dye-based products. With our decades of experience in the field of color measurement and spectrophotometry, we can help you find the perfect instrument for your needs, allowing you to manufacture some of the highest quality paintballs in the world. Contact us today to find out how you can implement your own color measurement system.

  1. “Safety & Game Rules”, http://www.lonewolfpaintball.com/safety/
  2. “What Are Paintballs Made Of?”, http://www.lonewolfpaintball.com/safety/
  3. “How to Clean Your Paintball Clothes”, July 23, 2017, https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-clean-paintball-stains-2565580
  4. “Your Guide to Buying Paintballs”, March 3, 2016, http://www.ebay.com/gds/Your-Guide-to-Buying-Paintballs-/10000000177627862/g.html
The LOVIBOND® Color Scale Improves the Quality and Consistency of Liquid Egg Products
LOVIBOND color scale
Using the LOVIBOND® color scale, you can ensure that your liquid egg product is high in quality. Image source: Pixabay user Pexels

An estimated 31 million people in the United States skip breakfast each morning, in part because the preparation process takes too long.1  Busy work schedules and hectic morning routines make cooking a full meal very difficult—millions of people don’t have time to carefully crack open an egg and fry it to perfection every day. This is where liquid egg products thrive. Unlike whole eggs, liquid eggs are more convenient for consumers to use every morning because there’s virtually no cleanup required. Consumers simply pour the egg product straight out of a carton into a hot pan and within minutes they have a healthy, protein-packed breakfast prepared.

But as with most perishable food products, liquid egg manufacturers need to make safety their first priority. A poorly-made product could easily make consumers ill. In addition, liquid egg manufacturers need to ensure that their products taste and look just as great as a fresh farm egg. By following the LOVIBOND® color scale, you can achieve perfection from every yolk and egg white, earning you a stellar reputation in the food industry.

A Complicated Pasteurization Process

The pasteurization process for liquid eggs is far more strict and complex than it is for whole eggs. To start, liquid egg companies need to clean and split the eggshells in half, removing both the egg whites and yolks from the shells. Next, companies are required to pasteurize the whites and yolks separately, even if the company plans on combining the two in the final product later. The liquid eggs are exposed to high heat and turbulence—the 148-degree Fahrenheit temperatures kill salmonella bacteria while the added turbulence preserves the texture of the egg and prevents it from coagulating.2 Once this is done, both the egg whites and the yolks should be safe to eat and can be combined into the final product. However, even if you have the correct pasteurization measures in place, it’s still essential to test your product for bacteria and overall quality during the making of each batch. This is where the LOVIBOND® color scale can help.

LOVIBOND color scale
In order to properly pasteurize raw eggs, manufacturers need to heat the ingredients and use a LOVIBOND® scale to determine whether the product received enough heat. Image source: Wikimedia user Manodegloria

How to Use the LOVIBOND® Color Scale

Although the LOVIBOND®-tested pasteurization process was used for the first time more than 50 years ago, it’s still considered an effective method for measuring liquid egg product quality today.3 Most liquid egg factories have a LOVIBOND® color comparator or a spectrophotometer on-site to test whether a liquid egg product was adequately pasteurized. After going through the pasteurization process, manufacturers place a sample of egg into a trichloroacetic acid solution. Lab technicians then add water to this mixture and filter out the solid particles. This filtrate is added to a small solution of iodine inside of a test tube. If the color of the solution turns a blue-violet color, then the egg has been pasteurized completely. If the color differs from this very specific hue, then it’s a sign that the batch has potentially dangerous contaminants or bacteria.

But how can you tell whether your solution is the perfect shade of blue-violet? You can’t use your naked eye since this leaves room for serious error. You may think you see the perfect hue when in reality the solution is slightly off in color. Alternatively, you may think that a solution isn’t blue-violet enough, causing you to throw out a batch of perfectly-safe product.

When it comes to getting the most accurate measurement possible, you need to use a LOVIBOND® color comparator or a spectrophotometer capable of measuring colors according to the LOVIBOND® scale. In this case, a spectrophotometer may be preferable to a comparator because this instrument offers you greater flexibility. Some spectrophotometers measure liquid and solid samples, allowing you to test more than one type of product without the need for additional equipment. However, even if you only plan on testing liquid products, some spectrophotometers are also more accurate than comparators and allow you to do additional testing such as color and haze analysis.

Regardless of which instrument you decide to use, you can use the LOVIBOND® color scale to test your liquid egg sample for proper pasteurization. Using a thin sample cell of the solution, you can tell whether your liquid egg reaches a 3 on the scale. Any solution below a measurement of 3 is likely not pasteurized completely and will need to be thrown away.

LOVIBOND color scale
Consumers want liquid egg products to look identical to freshly-cracked eggs. Image source: Pixabay user fuji01

Choose the Right Ingredients for Your Product

Beyond helping you with the pasteurization process, spectrophotometric color measurement can also ensure that your liquid eggs are aesthetically pleasing. Even if your eggs are perfectly safe and healthy, if they appear too milky in color when poured out of the carton, your consumers may find this off-putting. This is one of the greatest marketing challenges for liquid egg companies. Most consumers are used to the colors and textures of whole egg and, because liquid eggs come straight out of a man-made carton, it can be difficult to get your customers to trust in your product. In order to attract consumers, you need to analyze the color and haze of your ingredients and your final liquid product.

When you first buy whole eggs, it’s important to check a sample of your source’s eggs to ensure freshness. Generally, the whites of the eggs should be either clear or cloudy white.4  The cloudier and whiter the egg whites are, the fresher and healthier the egg is. A clear egg is still safe to eat and use, however, this is a sign that the egg is slightly older than its cloudier peers. If the whites look pink, the egg may be spoiled.

You can test this using a spectrophotometer like the HunterLab Vista since it’s capable of measuring both haze and color in liquid products simultaneously. Additionally, you’ll want to test the egg yolk color using a spectrophotometer. Light yellow yolks are a sign of a chicken that eats wheat and barley, whereas darker yellow yolks come from hens who eat more corn and alfalfa. Your customers may have a preference for darker yolks, and you’ll want to test for this in advance. Once your final product is pasteurized, and you’ve mixed your egg whites into your yolks, you’ll want to measure the product once more to test for consistency. By the end of the process, you should have a smooth golden-colored liquid without any discoloration.

HunterLab Reliability

If you want advice on the best spectrophotometer to use in your liquid egg factory, contact HunterLab today. We have a number of spectrophotometers available that are designed to meet the specific and exacting needs of the food industry. Because our equipment uses the most accurate color measurement software available, including LOVIBOND® colors, we’re able to help our clients become more efficient and trusted in their respective industries. Our experts will walk you through the selection and installation process for your new spectrophotometer and offer you tips on how to use this equipment to your advantage. With our expertise on your side, you’ll create a liquid egg product that’s indistinguishable from a freshly-cracked, farmer’s market egg.

  1. “31 Million Americans Skip Breakfast Each Day”, December 11, 2011, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/11/31-million-americans-skip_n_1005076.html
  2. “Laboratory Determination of the Destruction of A-Amylase and Salmonellae in Whole Egg”, September 25, 1961, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2134410/pdf/jhyg00124-0019.pdf
  3. “Alpha Amylase Activity in Liquid Egg”, 2016, http://www.lovibondcolour.com/colour-scale/alpha-amylase-activity-in-liquid-egg
  4. “The Five Things You Need to Know About Eggs”, December 27, 2006, https://www.today.com/food/5-things-you-need-know-about-eggs-2D80556370
The Best Spectrophotometer for Realistic-Looking Synthetic Wigs and Hair Extensions
synthetic wigs
When you invest in the best spectrophotometer for measuring wig color, you can ensure that your synthetic wigs look nearly identical to real hair. Image source: Pexels user iiii iiii

The synthetic wig business is booming. Every year, more customers buy synthetic wigs and hair extensions in order to test out new fashion trends or make their natural hair appear fuller and healthier. This nearly $230 million market has grown by an average of 4 percent in value every year since 2011, and this trend is expected to continue.1

However, when modern customers invest in today’s synthetic wigs, they expect a much higher level of quality than previous generations of wig wearers. Today’s customers want wigs that look identical to real hair, from the texture of the fibers to the layers of color in the dye. To create realistic, trendy, and fashion-forward synthetic wigs, you’ll need to invest in the best spectrophotometer for measuring multidimensional color. This will allow you to perfectly mimic the look of real hair without paying premium prices for actual human hair pieces.

Why Many Manufacturers Choose Synthetic Wigs

The reason many manufacturers and customers choose synthetic hair, rather than real human hair, is largely due to price and availability. Real human hair takes years to grow, and wig manufacturers have to compensate the people who choose to grow their hair for use in wigs (unless they donate their hair). This means that real human hair wigs are more time-consuming to make, cost more up-front and require a slightly more complex manufacturing process in order to produce products on a mass scale. Real wigs cost anywhere from $800 to $3,000, sometimes more.2  

By contrast, synthetic wigs are far more affordable for manufacturers and customers alike. Synthetic fibers can be made on a mass scale almost instantly — there’s no need to wait for the hair to grow. Most synthetic wigs sell on the market for an average of $30 to $500, depending on the quality of the synthetic materials; even the most expensive synthetic wig costs less than the cheapest real human hair wig. However, while synthetic wigs are cheaper to make, they also look and feel less realistic than real hair, especially if you dye the hair improperly. One of the biggest mistakes that wig manufacturers make is dying their products one flat color or using fibers that are too shiny. This is where a spectrophotometer may help.

synthetic wigs
The most realistic-looking synthetic wigs are multidimensional in color, just like real hair. Image source: Pixabay user Alexas_Fotos

The Best Spectrophotometer for Synthetic Wigs and Extensions

To make a truly realistic-looking synthetic hair piece, you need to dye your synthetic fibers in multidimensional color patterns, as this closely resembles how real human hair grows naturally. If you look closely at a person’s natural, undyed hair, you’ll see that the individual follicles produce slight variants in color. From a distance, the hair may appear to be a chestnut brown, but when you look closely, you’ll see that some pieces are actually a rich chocolate color, and others are nearly red — when combined, these two colors produce a warm chestnut color overall. The best spectrophotometer can help you identify which combination of dye colors will look the most realistic for your wig, and can offer you consistent color measurements that are more reliable than the naked eye is capable of seeing.

Your naked eye is especially inefficient at testing synthetic wig colors, in part because the fibers can vary too much in color, and because the materials are often very shiny. Cheap synthetic hair is usually made from acrylic, which is waxy and has an intense sheen that makes color difficult to measure.3 More expensive materials, such as those made from monofilament or polyfilament fibers, are less shiny than acrylic fibers, but they still have some slight sheen to them in order to make the hair piece appear healthy and aesthetically-pleasing. The problem with shiny materials is that they may look lighter in color than they actually are, making it difficult to test true color. By using the best spectrophotometer that can test for color, even if the product is shiny, you can see exactly which color is present in each batch of fibers that you dye.

Why Color Matters

Most wig manufacturers want to create a natural-looking hairpiece that has both dimension and shine while staying true to the intended color listed on the product’s label. Customers expect wigs to be consistent in color from piece-to-piece, and they often rely on product color descriptions to make their purchase decisions. For example, if you describe one of your wigs as “chestnut brown,” your customers will be disappointed if they find that the wig is too dark in color. But since realistic-looking wigs use multiple colors, it can be difficult to measure the overall shade.

Instead, you can measure each color individually to ensure that they are consistent from batch-to-batch, and then combine those different-colored fibers in a precise ratio. The best spectrophotometer can give you a precise number associated with each hair color that you intend to make, offering you a true color standard. For instance, to get “chestnut brown” overall, you may dye one batch of fibers chocolate brown, and another a more reddish brown. You can test both of these colors separately using a spectrophotometer. After testing each of your colors for consistency,  you then weave both of the colors into a wig — you can use 50 percent chocolate brown fibers and 50 percent reddish brown fibers, or whichever ratio looks most appealing. Once you find the perfect ratio of chocolate brown to reddish brown fibers, you can repeat this ratio for every wig in the future. This gives you a consistent product, even if a wig contains five or more colors.

synthetic wigs
Synthetic wigs retain dye better than real hair, but you should still test for color retention during the manufacturing process. Image source: Pixabay user shc9607

Test for Color Retention

One of the greatest benefits of synthetic wigs and extensions is that they tend to retain hair dye color much longer than real human hair.4 After multiple washes and styling sessions, real human hair can begin to lose its pigment after just a few months. When this happens, customers have to either re-dye the hair themselves (and risk damaging it) or buy a new wig. By contrast, synthetic fibers don’t bleed dye as quickly, even after heavy washing. In order to make your product more appealing to your customers, and ensure that both the dye you use and the fibers you create are high in quality, you should also test your wigs and extensions for color retention.

The best spectrophotometer can detect even the slightest fade in color after a few heavy washing sessions. To test this, simply test a sample of your wig materials right after you dye them, and then wash your test sample with shampoo. If your spectrophotometer detects that the color has faded after being washed, you may need to use a more permanent dye or higher-quality fibers. By testing for color retention in advance, you can assure your customers that your wigs and extensions won’t fade, even after heavy use.

HunterLab Innovation

Today’s synthetic wig businesses are capable of making a plastic hair piece look and feel just like real hair using innovative materials and technology. Forward-thinking industries like this need to have a partner that is just as dedicated to creating groundbreaking products and services. For more than 60 years, HunterLab has been a leader in the color measurement industry, providing customers with the most accurate and innovative instruments available. Our wide range of spectrophotometers is specifically designed for the complex needs of our customers, from food manufacturers to the beauty industry. Contact us today to find out how a spectrophotometer can improve your wig manufacturing business. Our goal is to give you the tools you need to provide your customers with the most stylish, realistic wigs on the market.

  1. “Wig & Hairpiece Stores: Market Research Report”, October 2016, https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-trends/specialized-market-research-reports/consumer-goods-services/apparel-accessories-stores/wig-hairpiece-stores.html
  2. “Wigs”, February 17, 2017, http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/hair_skin_nails/wigs
  3. “How Is Synthetic Hair Made?”, http://thebeautybrains.com/2014/05/are-hair-extensions-made-from-human-corpses-the-beauty-brains-show-episode-29/
  4. “The Difference Between Human Hair and Synthetic Hair Wigs”, November 14, 2015, http://getbestwigs.com/2015/11/14/difference-between-human-hair-and-synthetic-hair-wigs/
The Best Color Quality Control Protocols for Dry Erase Markers
dry erase markers
An effective color measurement system for dry erase markers will include a swatch test on a whiteboard to ensure that the colors are opaque. Image source: Pixabay user StartupStockPhotos

When dry erase markers hit the U.S. mainstream market in the 1990s, they were instantly popular among scientists, teachers, and engineers.1 Unlike chalk, which was messy, difficult to write with, and hard to clean, dry erase markers were far more convenient for consumers—they could write on the same surface hundreds of times without leaving behind streaks of color or chalk dust. Today, dry erase markers are still one of the most popular writing tools in the world. But in order to attract customers, marker manufacturers need to use an effective color quality control protocols to test their products for opacity and erasability. Because dry erase markers are so popular, only the brightest-colored and most erasable products are able to compete. By evaluating your products from the start, you’ll attract more customers in this fiercely competitive industry.

How to Measure Slippery Polymers

When you measure the color of permanent markers, you simply swatch the color onto a sheet of white paper and analyze it using a spectrophotometer. In theory, a dry erase marker can be measured using the same technique. However, in practice, dry erase markers present unique challenges that must be accounted for during the measurement process.

Unlike permanent or wet erase markers, which are made with a mix of color pigments and acrylic polymer, a dry erase marker uses a silicone-based polymer instead.2 This type of polymer is oily and extremely slippery, and it’s this oily quality that gives the ink its erasability. While other acrylic polymers stick to porous surfaces, a dry erase marker’s ink is more likely to slip right off of glass or whiteboard material. If properly formulated, it only stains if you leave the ink on the surface for a great deal of time (usually weeks or even months after the original application).

Although this slipperiness is a sign that your dry erase marker is high-quality, it also makes it more difficult to test your marker colors with the color measurement procedures used for other types of markers and special care must be taken during the measurement process. Instead of measuring the color on paper, you’ll need to do a swatch test on a sample of whiteboard, then analyze this sample using your spectrophotometer. However, because the ink is so slippery, if you graze the color swatch against the spectrophotometer, you may accidentally wipe off most of your sample before it can be tested. As such, it’s essential to use a non-contact instrument that avoids direct contact with the sample and take care to avoid manually disturbing the sample. Many spectrophotometers are capable of measuring color without directly touching the sample, and these will be the most effective tools for you to keep in your lab.

dry erase markers
Light-colored dry erase markers, like yellows, greens, and light blues, are more challenging to test because they aren’t as opaque or densely pigmented as darker colors. Image source: Flickr user upsidedownsphere

Compare Whiteboard Swatches to Cap Colors

Once you’ve accounted for your dry erase markers’ slippery ingredients, you’ll also need to ensure that your ink colors match the marker’s cap. When customers shop for dry erase markers, they often can’t test the marker before they buy the package. Your customers have to rely on the marker’s cap and other packaging components to tell them which colors they’re purchasing; if your customer buys your product and finds that your red marker actually appears more orange after application, they may choose to shop with a different marker company in the future. The most successful dry erase marker companies are able to closely match their cap color to their ink.

To do this properly, you’ll need to start by measuring your ink color. Once you know the exact shade of the ink swatched on a whiteboard, you can craft custom marker caps that will match the shade of the ink perfectly. This process is too difficult to perform using the human eye alone. To start, your eye may have difficulty comparing a two-dimensional color swatch to a three-dimensional marker cap, and poor lighting or other color biases could impact the accuracy of your chosen cap color. By putting an exact shade number onto your product and creating a custom shade perfectly matched to that numbered color, you ensure that your customers always get the color that they expect. This is an especially useful tool for light-colored markers, as these can be particularly for the human eye to differentiate against different colored surfaces. A yellow shade, for example, may appear darker than it actually is when it’s placed against a black sample background, which may result in an incongruent marker cap color that’s too dark.3 By using a spectrophotometer, the exact shade of yellow will be detected, even if your eye sees a darker shade.

dry erase markers
It’s important for a marker’s cap to closely match its ink so that consumers can make more informed choices about the colors they’re buying. Image source: Pixabay user AlexanderStein

Ensuring Erasability

Your ideal color quality control protocols will include not only ink color measurements and cap color matching, but erasability tests. To start, you should use a spectrophotometer to test the opacity and color saturation of your ink against its most common application surface (a whiteboard). You may also decide to test it against other surfaces, such as glass, mirrors or dark-colored dry erase boards. Once you find an ink color that appears well-saturated against all of these surfaces, you should test whether your ink still erases properly. Sometimes, when you add pigments to a marker to achieve better saturation, you also increase the risk of staining the surface. To test this, you should use a spectrophotometer to compare test samples before and after erasure. A high-quality spectrophotometer should be capable of detecting even the faintest ink residue leftover after erasing the sample, which will tell you whether your product is slippery enough to erase fully after application.

HunterLab Reliability

For more than 60 years, HunterLab has been a leader in color measurement technologies, providing the most accurate spectrophotometers to companies that work with ink-based products. Today, we provide solutions for pen manufacturers, art supply providers, and many others who rely on accurate ink color measurements. Our staff can help you find the best spectrophotometer for your needs and teach you how to use our built-in color measurement scales to ensure that every dry erase marker you craft meets your customers’ high standards. Contact us today to find out more about creating the best color quality protocols for your dry erase markers.

  1. “Blackboard Chalk and Whiteboard Pen History”, http://www.historyofpencils.com/writing-instruments-history/blackboard-chalk-and-whiteboard-pen-history-and-future/
  2. “What’s In a Dry Erase Marker?”, https://www.clarusglassboards.com/whats-in-a-dry-erase-marker/
  3. “Three Tips for Selecting the Best Whiteboard Markers”, https://tailormadewhiteboards.com/content/three-tips-selecting-best-whiteboard-markers
Simultaneous Color and Haze Measurement Assures Quality in Glass Cleaners
glass cleaner
Consistent color is a sign of a high-quality product, which is why color measurement tools are essential for glass cleaner manufacturers. Image Source: Pixabay user PublicDomainPictures

Making glass cleaner seems like a simple process at first; all you need is ammonia, a soapy cleaning agent, rubbing alcohol, and water. But when you’re making cleaning products on a commercial level, this process becomes much more complex. If you mix the wrong balance of these ingredients or use subpar, impure products, your glass cleaner might leave streaks on your customers’ windows. Moreover, inconsistent products that vary too much in color between batches could scare away prospective customers who worry about the safety and quality of the cleaner. Spectrophotometric color measurement is the key to ensuring quality in your ingredients and earning your customers’ trust. By testing your products for accurate, consistent coloration, you can bolster and protect your company’s reputation, leading to better sales and more satisfied customers.

Why Blue is the Unofficial Industry Standard

When you walk through the cleaning section of any grocery store, the glass cleaners are pretty easy to spot: most of them are light blue. However, the main ingredients in glass cleaners (isopropanolamine and ammonia) are completely clear.1 This means that the blue color doesn’t originate from the primary active ingredients themselves, but from light blue dyes added for aesthetic purposes.

The reason most glass cleaners on the market are blue is that, during the 1960s, Windex’s original recipe used a translucent blue dye to help it stand out from the pack. In response to this product’s popularity, many customers began associating the color of light blue spray with glass cleaners.2 Today, many glass cleaner manufacturers still use light blue dye to attract their customers and more easily gain their trust.

glass cleaner
Most glass cleaners on the market are blue in color, however, you can choose any color you would like when you make your cleaning products. Image Source: Pixabay user congerdesign

Deciding on Your Ideal Product Color

Depending on your ideal customer, you might choose to maintain this unofficial industry standard, or break the mold with different colors (or no color whatsoever). Before you make your decision, consider that light blue dye has more potential uses in glass cleaner than just aesthetics and good marketing—it can also be safer to use in some households. Cleaning products that are clear in color are more likely to be mistaken for water or other types of products, and unless these bottles are clearly marked, it’s easier for customers to mix them up with other cleaning agents.3 By following industry norms and making your products blue in color, you could target customers who are more comfortable using familiar-looking products or those who have young children. You also make it easier for your customers to see how much product they’ve applied to the glass since bright colors show up more clearly against a transparent background.

However, you can also use color measurement tools to create an entirely new color for your product or perfect your ingredients in their purest form. Although many customers still prefer the traditional blue color, a growing number of consumers are turning away from products with artificial dyes toward more natural products free from impurities and synthetic ingredients. In these cases, clarity and colorlessness become prized. If you’re targeting this audience, haze measurement combined with transmission color measurement will become particularly critical in order to ensure optimal aesthetic appeal. This process will be similar to how bottled water manufacturers test samples for purity.

glass cleaner
You can use a spectrophotometer to choose the perfect blue hue for your cleaning products. Image Source: Flickr user Your Best Digs

Color Measurement Consistency Means Higher Quality Ingredients

Because glass cleaner is a translucent product and will be applied to a clear surface that shows every tiny imperfection, you’ll want to focus on both haze and color measurement during your production process. The HunterLab Vista is capable of measuring both haze and transmitted color at the same time, in a single measurement. This is a rare feature; most spectrophotometers can only measure one of these factors at a time, whereas the Vista is capable of handling both simultaneously, optimizing accuracy and efficiency.

To get the most out of the Vista, you’ll need to measure the haze and color of your ingredients first. A cloudy or off-color sample of rubbing alcohol, for example, will impact the appearance of your final product later and could even be the sign of a contaminated ingredient. By testing whether all of your ingredients are clear and accurately colored in advance, you will significantly improve the appearance and performance of your finished glass cleaner.

After you’ve assured that your ingredients are as clear as possible, you’ll need to test the final mix of your product, both before you add your dyes and after. If your product is completely clear and pure before you add your dye but becomes hazier after you add the color, you might consider using a different dye that doesn’t cause your product to appear cloudy. From here, you can use your Vista spectrophotometer to find the ideal shade of blue (or any other color you’d like) and create a baseline color measurement for the rest of your products to follow. Spectrophotometric color measurement is essential for recipe creation and for maintaining consistency in your products year-after-year, ensuring that each of your bottles looks exactly the same.

The HunterLab Solution

For more than 60 years, HunterLab has been a leader in the color measurement industry. Today, we offer a versatile range of instruments designed to fit any company’s needs. Our user-friendly tools are capable of measuring color with the highest degree of accuracy possible, ensuring that each product released is an ideal reflection of the company’s color standards. With the Vista, you can accurately measure the color and haze of your glass cleaning products without having to juggle multiple color measurement instruments or take multiple measurements, minimizing sample prep time and cost. Contact us to learn more about our Vista spectrophotometer or any other color measurement tools that could help your cleaning company grow.

  1. “Simple Cleaners for Streak-Free Windows and Mirrors”, February 24, 2016, https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2016/02/2-simple-cleaners-for-streak-free-windows-mirrors.html
  2. “What Chemicals Are in Windex?”, https://www.hunker.com/12155369/what-chemicals-are-in-windex
  3. “Nontoxic Cleaning Products Proliferate”, February 10, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/11/garden/11clean.html
The Best Color Measurement System for Bath Bombs and Multi-Colored Soaks
color measurement system
Because most bath bombs contain multiple colors, you need to use a color measurement system to ensure that the colors match and remain vibrant. Image Source: Pixabay user StockSnap

A bright fuschia bath bomb hits the water and immediately starts to froth. Long streams of pink, purple, and red leak into the water, coating the top of the bathtub in a thick layer of colorful bubbles. But as the bath bomb dissolves and shrinks, unexpected colors begin to appear, from deep blues to rich emerald greens. This surprise pop of color is what draws thousands of customers to bath bombs every year.

Unlike traditional bath salts and soaps, which are usually just one color, bath bombs can contain as many as a dozen different layers of color in a single package. For cosmetics manufacturers, this poses a challenge: how do you ensure that these colors will look appealing to customers, both before and after they hit the water? To solve this issue, you need an accurate color measurement system for your bath bombs and multi-colored soaks.

You’ll Need to Measure Color Twice

When you’re working with large batches of any commercial product, you need to ensure that your colors are consistent batch-to-batch. But a color measurement system for bath bombs has to measure more than just consistency of each ingredient; it also needs to measure how the colors interact with water and with the other colors in the mix. For instance, if you add too many similar-looking colorants into a bath soak, you will likely end up with a product that looks muddy rather than multi-colored. Similarly, even if your bath bomb looks perfect when it’s dry, its colors might not mix well together in the water or could be duller in appearance than you expected.
Without testing how your colors mix together in water, you might accidentally release a product that looks brown in tone after customers put it in the water. This is a common problem when making bath bombs because companies often like to mix a primary color with its complementary color, causing the mix to turn brown.1 However, you can counteract this if you use colorants that can’t interact with one another in water or if you carefully measure the colors you use to ensure that their final blend is an appealing new color. By measuring your colors twice (once during the dry, powdered stage, and again as a dissolved liquid sample), you guarantee that your bath bombs will look equally beautiful on the shelf as they do in the tub.

color measurement system
Some natural bath bombs and soaks contain solid materials or colorants that are less saturated than standard dyes. Image Source: Pixabay user Tomasz_Mikolajczyk

Natural Soaks Can Be Challenging

Natural bath bombs are gaining in popularity, becoming a hot ticket item for cosmetics companies specializing in bath products.2 Customers enjoy these natural soaks because they often contain fewer skin irritants than soaks that use traditional dyes or perfumes, and in turn, cosmetics companies find these products easy to make, with low overhead costs. The main ingredients in most natural soaks include corn starch, mineral salt, baking soda, vegetable oil, essential oils, food coloring dyes and citric acid. To make their bath bombs stand out, some manufacturers even add flower petals, seeds or skin-soothing ingredients like aloe vera to their mixes. As the baking soda and citric acid mixes with water, the product starts to fizz, releasing all of the solid ingredients and dyes into the bathtub.3.  

Although these natural bath bombs are easy to produce, finding the right ingredient combinations for these products can be a challenge. Many bath bombs appear more vibrantly pigmented in solid form than they do once dissolved, leading to disappointed customers. The nature of the natural ingredients themselves contribute to this problem, as they tend to be less saturated than their synthetic alternatives. Because color saturation will have the greatest impact on your final product, it essential to identify the most saturated natural ingredients possible to facilitate the production of intense hues in both dry and dissolved forms. The more saturated your ingredients are, the bolder your bath bombs will appear on the shelf and in the water.

color measurement system
Bath bombs need to be especially bright in color in order to see the dye clearly in water. Image Source: Pixabay user writerelh

The Best Color Measurement System for Bath Bombs

Spectrophotometers will offer the most versatile color measurement system for bath bombs and other multi-colored bath soaks. Your ideal tools should measure both solid and liquid samples since you’ll need to measure your bath bombs in their powdered form as well as their dissolved state. The instruments you choose should be capable of measuring any sample, from solids to opaque and translucent liquids. Some dark-colored, significantly saturated bath bombs will result in deeply pigmented bathwater, whereas other, lighter-colored bath bombs might transfer only a tiny amount of color into the water, leaving it nearly transparent. Your ideal spectrophotometer will measure both types of liquids.

To use a spectrophotometeric color measurement system, you should start by measuring the dyes and oils that will go into your final product to ensure that they are high quality and correctly pigmented. Next, mix your ingredients together as usual, then measure the dry powder color for consistency and saturation. Look for flaws like patchiness or uneven coloring between batches. Finally, dissolve a small sample of your product into a liquid form and measure the color again to determine how it will appear in use.

From here, you can also test whether your color clings to the side of the substrate or sample container. If you see too much residue on the substrate, this could be a sign that your product is too saturated, and it might stain your customers’ bathtubs or their skin. By testing for stains in advance, you can tweak your formula until you achieve perfect color saturation that your customers can use without fear.

HunterLab Quality

HunterLab has been a leader in color measurement for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of versatile spectrophotometers designed for the diverse needs of our customers. Our instruments are capable of accurately analyzing the color of all types of materials, from powders to solids to opaque and translucent liquids, giving you the ability to obtain the data you need at every stage of your production process and helping you perfect your bath products. Contact us for more information about our renowned spectrophotometers, customizable software packages, and world-class customer service and let us help you select the right tools for your needs.

  1. “Understanding & Mixing Complementary Colors”, September 2015, http://munsell.com/color-blog/mud-understanding-mixing-complementary-colors/
  2. “Lush Cosmetics Popularity”, July 27, 2016, http://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/a61890/lush-cosmetics-popularity/
  3. “How to Create a Bath Bomb”, January 31, 2017, https://www.shopify.com/retail/how-to-create-a-bath-bomb-retail-business