Clear Color Analysis: How Haze Measurement Ensures Product Visibility in Packaging Materials

Plastic…it’s everywhere. That clear color wrapping can be found on nearly any manufactured product you can think of: food, toys, sporting goods, electronics. All of these common items can be found coated in clear material, but is there really a true measurement of clear color?

Clarity is, in fact, an important feature of plastic and it can be measured by the analysis of haze in the sample material. The appearance of clear plastic is gauged by the cloudiness or haziness of the material to determine visibility. Haze is the only true measurement of clear color and can be quantified and monitored through the use of spherical spectrophotometric technology.

celophane wrapped flowers clear color
Clear plastic packaging is found on many products where visibility is important for marketing purposes and accentuating product appeal.
Image Source: Flickr user jenny downing

Measuring haze with spectrophotometers

When we talk about measuring haze, we are specifically referring to a measurement of visual clarity in a product. Whether the desired product outcome is a purely clear color plastic finish or semi-translucent, the ability to quantify haze measurement offers the ability to achieve the result you want.

When plastic materials first made their way into the manufacturing realm, the only way to determine clarity or haze measurement was to hold the material up to a light source and judge its cloudiness visually. This method was highly subjective and made product consistency nearly impossible. This method was also inefficient and costly, since analysis of the final product was the only option available. By the time variations were detected, the entire processing line had to be recalibrated and production would have to start all over.

When spectrophotometric technology made its way into the plastic industry, it was specifically designed to measure color variations. This process was very beneficial for maintaining specific color matching, but did not necessarily account for the reflectance or haze of the product. As a measurement of clear color, this early method did not provide much help. With the invention of sphere technology, spectrophotometers were able to go beyond the basic viewing parameters of the visible spectrum, allowing this new technology to accurately measure clear color and quantify the color measurement data resulting in more consistent outcomes.

legos clear color analysis
Spectrophotometers measure colored plastic, but many cannot accurately measure reflectance value or haze. Sphere technology accounts for variances and is used to measure haze in a variety of clear plastic products on the market today.
Image Source: Flickr user Abulic Monkey

With new spherical technology, we can now accurately measure clear color plastic products and determine haze and clarity of post-manufactured plastics. This method ensures product consistency and desired results. Monitoring final products simply means that defected products do not reach the consumer, but changes must still be made throughout the production line to correct errors, which can be costly and waste time. However, through the use of on-line spectrophotometric instrumentation, real-time analysis of product color can be made at any stage of production. This real-time data can catch problems before they manifest and allow for prompt adjustment directly on the production line.

At HunterLab, we design our spectrophotometers specifically for industrial applications such as clear color analysis. The ColorQuest One-Line Haze Spectrophotometer is specifically designed for plastic film and sheet color measurement and provides accurate and consistent data throughout real-time production. We back our products with experience and unsurpassed customer support. Contact HunterLab today to see why our name is trusted by more industries for true color measurement.

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