These are exciting times in the automotive refinish industry. Dramatic advances in color technology combined with familiar and reliable resources have created a diverse array of digital and print tools that make accurate refinish color matching faster and easier than ever. And since accurate color matching saves time and money, boosts productivity and increases customer satisfaction, everyone involved — paint manufacturers and distributors, OEMs, collision centers and consumers — is eager for refinish colors to match the first time.
|A comprehensive color formula database is the key to getting the right color match for an invisible repair.|
Whether a painter is working with the latest spectrophotometer or using traditional color decks and tint charts, the key to getting the right color match is having access to a comprehensive database with robust reflectance data and algorithms, which lead to the right color formula and help ensure an invisible repair.
Identifying colors and variants
With new, sophisticated colors being introduced every year, along with a significant number of variants, it’s critical that a paint manufacturer keep up with all the changes. At PPG, we have a web-based global database we update daily to give painters the latest information available. The ever-expanding database currently has more than 3.5 million formulas painters can call up quickly using the most advanced tools in the industry.
To ensure a database stays current, paint manufacturers gather color information from numerous places. Automotive OEMs are a key source, since they regularly work with paint companies when developing new colors. However, as painters know, a vehicle’s actual color does not always match an OEM’s prime formula. Two cars painted the identical OEM silver may have slight variations even if they were painted at the same plant. Variants that appear frequently are cataloged in a paint company’s database along with the original OEM prime.
Parts programs also provide color information. If a color match can’t be found in the database, or if a painter needs a specific manufacturer color in the database, a car part can be sent to the paint company for analysis. A “special” can be produced for a particular instance, and if a color is deemed popular enough, a variant is born.
U.S. ports of entry are also a source of variants. If a paint company monitors incoming auto shipments at ports, field color experts are often the first to see the real-world version of a new vehicle color when they perform on-the-spot color audits against OEM information. If the field experts identify a color deviation, they alert the paint company’s color lab, and if warranted, a variant is developed.
|Today’s sophisticated spectrophotometers measure multiple angles and texture of the vehicle’s paint color to find the best match.|
PPG delivers more than 25,000 colors annually through parts programs and the port of entry process. In these situations, when a variant is identified, PPG adds it to the database for future reference. Accessing that color database is then the key to finding the right color match. There are several innovative tools to help achieve this using digital, print or support tools — depending on what works best for your body shop.
The digital path to the database
Innovative internet-enabled software programs have come a long way to deliver information to painters. Software advancements now provide Google-like color search capability, incorporate spray-out libraries, personalized mix sessions, volume estimators, job management, customized settings and advanced reporting. The PPG database, as an example, can be accessed by a software program that, with its customizable search options, allows a paint technician to quickly locate the latest color variants for exteriors, bumpers, and accent and under-hood colors all in one system. Digital software technology opens the database for painters to obtain better-than-ever accuracy in color formula retrieval, matching and mixing of paint.