Measuring Surface Texture Color with Spectral Reflectance and Sphere Technology to Ensure Visual Quality

The New Year is here and many people are ready for a change. New workout routines, special diets, and home improvement projects all top the lists of resolutions. New flooring was on the top of ours, and as we set out to shop the latest trends, visual quality was our highest priority. As with any type of building material, visual quality relates directly to color consistency and finished product outcome. These components are crucial for maintaining the intended design elements of personal small scale projects and large commercial projects as well. Manufacturers of building materials strive for product quality and must rely on color measurement technology to ensure exact color matching and consistency in their products.

wood flooring visual quality
Whether shopping for new flooring or large scale project design elements, color and consistency are a mark of quality in any type of building material.
Image Source: Flickr user Gavin Tapp

Measuring surface texture color differences

Surface changes in coatings and finishes often affect the color appearance and visual quality of a sample. When light is reflected off of an opaque sample it is characterized by its distribution and appears as either gloss/shine or matte in texture color. These characteristics are referred to as either the object’s specular or diffuse reflection. Consumers’ desire visual quality and homogeneity in surface colors when choosing building materials and/or coating products, therefore samples must be viewed with these properties in mind.

Visual quality and color appearance are directly affected by surface texture, which is completely independent of the actual color application itself. The human eye perspective can view two products with the exact same color application, but color perception will vary depending on the gloss or matte properties of the surface texture. Instrumental color measurement is designed to account for these variations in light distribution based on surface texture changes, which allows for accurate color measurement data to help identify the need for change in coating formulations, base quality, or application methods to ensure the visual quality of the product.

metallic surface visual quality
Gloss and matte finishes vary in color appearance due to variations in surface textures. Glass and metallic materials exhibit high levels of reflectance which requires instrumental color measurements to ensure color consistency and quality.
Image Source: Flickr user Seldom Scene Photography

Sphere-based color measurement systems

There are four distinct geometries used for color measurement applications:

  • Diffuse d/8° Sphere, specular reflectance included
  • Diffuse d/8° Sphere, specular reflectance excluded
  • Directional 45°/0° (specular excluded)
  • Directional 0°/45° (specular excluded)

The sphere instrumentation design is formulated to cancel out the variations in surface texture in order to provide an accurate measurement of color. Specific modes of d/8° sphere instrumentation can exclude the reflected light in high gloss/shine samples in order to obtain consistent color measurement. This application is extremely useful when working with glass or metallic materials. Plastic materials can also vary greatly in surface texture and appearance. Using 45°/0° sphere instrumentation accounts for both color and surface changes while mimicking human visual perception. This technology provides the closest representation of colors as seen by the human eye and helps to meet the visual quality demands of the consumer.

reflective glass visual quality
When measuring high-gloss and reflective coatings, sphere instrumentation technology is ideal for obtaining true color measurement data.
Image Source: Flickr user peasap

Sphere-based instrumentation and technology

Sphere-based instrumentation is a relatively new facet of spectral technology. HunterLab is a trusted name in color measurement and has helped to pioneer sphere instrumentation technology. At HunterLab we strive to meet the current needs of color analysis and work with our clients to meet the demands of an ever-changing market. New developments in materials and coatings require the latest technology in color measurement, making it important to choose instrumentation that meets the standards for visual quality. Our experienced staff is here to help you choose the right instrumentation for you specific application need. Contact HunterLab today to learn more about our commitment to color and see why more companies trust us for all their color measurement needs.