Web-Enabled Color Measurement Harmonizes Different Instruments

New software uses the internet to streamline color communications by providing “virtual calibration” so that different makes and models of instruments measure color to the same standards.

New software uses the internet to streamline color communications by providing “virtual calibration” so that different makes and models of instruments measure color to the same standards. The system is designed to harmonize color communication between different locations of the same company and between color formulators, pigment suppliers, processors, and OEM customers.

At NPE in Chicago next month, GretagMacbeth will feature its new NetProfiler and NetPalette web-enabled software applications, as well as a new color instrument. NetProfiler Version 1.5 remotely monitors, calibrates, adjusts, and certifies a network of spectrophotometers. It is said to be an industry first in that it provides a universal color-measurement standard for diverse instruments. Previously proven effective for the company’s Color-Eye brand of instruments, it is now expanded to allow dissimilar instruments from other makers to interpret color in the same way over the internet. It reportedly characterizes all spectrophotometers to a single virtual standard, converting color data to the same digital format, thus eliminating instrument variances. A NetProfiler software license costs from $500 to $1800/yr, depending on the instrument used. 

One believer in NetProfiler is GE Plastics, based in Pittsfield, Mass. “We’ve experienced significant improvement in repeatability and reproducibility for our color measurement systems. With these outstanding results, we have specified that all GE Plastics manufacturing and technology sites worldwide use NetProfiler,” says Jody Johnson, GE Plastics global color technology leader.

GretagMacbeth’s new NetPalette Version 3.0 is client-server software designed specifically to allow color instruments to communicate digital color data via automated e-mail. It standardizes color communication to enable true collaborative color development. It makes “color by numbers” really work, according to GretagMacbeth sources.

NetPalette can be integrated with most computerized color-formulation and quality-control systems. This is said to result in more first-time sample approvals and drastic reductions in sample iterations. “By measuring color data directly into NetPalette you eliminate the need to send physical color samples,” says product marketing manager Richard Knapp. That saves time and cost by eliminating the current practice of sending color samples from one location to another. “We have seen 50% to 80% increases in speed to market,” adds Knapp. “In addition, when combined with NetProfiler, instrumental variations are removed, enabling true digital color development.” NetPalette software is priced at $2550/yr per PC.


High performance for less

Another NPE product introduction from GretagMacbeth is the Color i 5, a sphere-based laboratory benchtop spectrophotometer that is described as a mid-range system comparable in features to higher-end instruments. Color i 5 costs $14,500 versus $18,000 to $20,000 for higher-end units such as the company’s ColorEye 7000. The new instrument’s reportedly unique tri-beam technology simplifies gloss measurement by taking simultaneous readings with the specular component included and excluded. It also offers multiple areas of view in both reflectance and transmittance. A self-adjusting, dual zoom lens reportedly eliminates configuration errors between aperture plates and lens position. In addition, automated uv adjustment aids measuring of fluorescent or optically brightened samples. The unit also offers both vertical and horizontal measurement orientation.