While a spectrophotometer might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, it is actually a powerful tool that companies across the world use create and control their brand and product colors, ensuring color quality, consistency and efficacy across their product lines. It can tell us if a pharmaceutical is contaminated or if cookies are baked to the optimal brownness for consumer acceptance.
So how does all this happen from a spectrophotometer? And how do we use it? The science behind this tool is powerful and has several applications. To clear things up, we’ve put together some information on how spectrophotometers work and how they contribute to different products and technologies, so let’s dive in.
Color heavily influences how consumers perceive food products. Humans naturally associate color with flavor and quality, assuming how a product will taste based on its appearance.
Like all snack foods, nuts are subject to consumer judgments founded on color. These products require thorough quality control testing to ensure they project the proper quality, appearance, and taste. Color measurement devices deliver objective color assessments, enabling operators to achieve color consistency according to industry standards.
Color measurement plays an important role in nearly every application of every industry. Color variations are a part of human perception, but the ability to clearly identify these differences and establishing color parameters is an important part of a color system that works. Image Source: Flickr user frankieleon
Color measurement may seem pretty straightforward at first glance, but due to the limitations of the human eye, instrumental color measurement tools soon become a necessity for creating consistent and repeatable colors. Color quality plays a huge role in nearly every industry, and setting up a color system based on advanced color measurement instrumentation can make a difference in product quality and appearance. Although setting up a color system may seem tedious and difficult at first, especially with all the bells and whistle of today’s spectrophotometers, with the right support these steps will definitely pay off in the long run. Implementing a color system is not only important for identifying color measurement standards, but clearly defines color tolerances as well, which is the key in creating a system that works.
Spectrophotometric technology allows you to create an effective color system with a method for monitoring that system which can save time and money. A good color system first begins with identifying color variations. These variations or differences are commonly referred to as Delta-E. Delta-E (dE) expresses “the ‘distance’ between two colors” and can be represented in numerical form using color measurement data. A dE value of 1.o represents the smallest measurement of color difference that can be perceived by the human eye. Anything less that dE 1.0 will appear to be the same color no matter who is viewing the sample and is not affected by angle or light source. A dE measurement slightly above 1.0 usually goes unnoticed by the average viewer and can be considered an ‘acceptable’ color difference, but establishing these boundaries with an effective color system is a fundamental element in quality control and production efficiency. This range of acceptability is defined as a color tolerance and is a foundation in establishing an effective color system.
Color technology has become an important tool in scientific research and many industrial applications. Spectrophotometers quantify the data needed to identify specific properties in various compounds. Image Source: Flickr user Nelson Alexandre Rocha
Color technology has opened the door to many new possibilities in the world of science and discovery. Just like Newton’s laws of motion, there are certain laws that pertain to light absorption and color concentration of various compounds. This information can provide a wealth of data about specific chemical properties. Spectrophotometers are important tools used in color technology that can measure light wavelengths and calculate this data to pertain to a variety of science and industry applications.
Quality and consumer satisfaction are dependent on developing a system for color agreement. Instrumental analysis offers a simple and effective method for developing a color tolerance system. Image Source: Flickr user John Fischer
Tolerance by definition means to accept something that you may not necessarily agree with. Everyone seems to have their own perspectives and opinions of what is right or wrong, so finding common ground can often create challenges. This concept is no exception in the world of color measurement, where color agreement is highly dependent on instrumental analysis to give an objective viewpoint. By creating a color tolerance standard, an objective definition of color can be quantified and repeated for consistency throughout a variety of manufacturing and production fields.
Artists depend on quality and stability in their art supplies to ensure that their work of art will stand the test of time. Image Source: Flickr user Dean Hochman
Artists in ancient times created their masterpieces by mixing and creating their own painting mediums. Quality and consistency in developing pigment color was an art in itself and nearly as important as the finished product. The paints and supplies that artists use today are virtually all created by art supply companies and manufacturers. With thousands of choices and a limitless selection, today’s artists demand pigment color that meets quality standards to ensure that their artwork will stand the test of time.
Biomedical optics offer non-invasive alternatives to many healthcare procedures through the use of spectrophotometric technology. Image Source: Flickr user frankieleon
Biomedical optics very well may be the future of our health care industry. Whether you are an athlete, patient, or parent of an infant, biomedical optics will most likely play a significant role in your health care or that of someone you love in the near future. Biomedical optics utilize NIR (near-infrared) spectroscopy in a number of ways and provides a safe, non-invasive, and non-destructive method of analysis for a variety of medical needs.