The Perfect Match: the Science of Urethane Color Matching

August 27, 2015

The process of color matching for urethane materials has many variables, all of which affect your final product. If you don’t take time to consider the factors that will impact your color match, you might not discover a color issue until your products are shipped and sold and your customers start complaining.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the right expertise in pigment chemistry, combined with a good understanding of your goals, will help you avoid trial and error and accelerate the color matching process. Here are five ways you and your supplier can work together to achieve an accurate, first-time color match.

  1. Provide access to your urethane system. The type and density of the urethane material you produce has a profound impact on the color of your final product. Urethanes can be clear, white or off-white before coloration, and will contribute differently to the color. Lower-density urethanes also create lighter colors than higher-density urethanes. To ensure color accuracy and consistency in your production line, your colorant supplier must have a detailed knowledge of the system characteristics, desired color loading and application of the urethane formulation.


  1. Consider product lighting. It’s critical to tell your colorant supplier in what environment your final product will be displayed, as display lighting affects the product’s appearance. Will your final product be placed under the fluorescent lights of a retail store? Or in a car dealership’s outdoor lot? The light source will determine the optimal pigment combinations to use to create the right color.


  1. Develop a color evaluation system. There’s a reason it’s called “Coca-Cola®” red. The company doesn’t allow any other shade of red to be used. It’s important that you and your supplier are on the same page when it comes to evaluating color, so the supplier can be responsive and accurate. If you don’t have a standardized system for color evaluation, work with your colorant supplier to develop one. Adopting a color evaluation system ensures that the color will meet the end user’s expectations.


  1. Share an example. Providing a physical color standard – a material rendering, not a photo on a computer screen – is one of the easiest ways to help your colorant supplier ensure an accurate match. The color standard should come from a solid object, a liquid such as paint, or a standardized color reference such as a RAL or Pantone number.


  1. Share your process and equipment parameters. The details you provide will enable formulators to properly develop a product that will work in harmony with your equipment.

To produce the right color for your urethane application, you must truly understand your manufacturing processes and your vision for the final product, including the environment in which it will be used. The manufacturer-supplier relationship flourishes when processes are defined and everyone is in the loop. Involve your colorant supplier early in the process, as it can mean the difference between first-time success and repeatedly missing the mark.

Chromaflo Technologies is one of the largest global, independent colorant supplier. Contact us at (440) 997-5137 to discuss a custom colorant for your urethane application.

back to the blog