Protecting Your Final Color

September 29, 2015

Colors always look great in the lab.

That’s because every color variable in a lab environment is controlled by knobs, switches and mouse clicks. Chemists can formulate a shade of red to exactly match the red that defines your product line. They can create the exact same blue that is used in your company’s trademark.
But those products – and those colors – have to leave the lab at some point. They must exist in the real world, where the elements, artificial lighting and other factors have the potential to fade and degrade your product’s color, a color that is critical to the visual appeal and marketability of your product.
As a result, before you begin color formulation, it is critical to consider how your product will be made and where it will spend its life. Otherwise, you could end up with a thermoset plastic part that shows imperfections, lacks visual appeal for customers or fades quickly from its original color.
Here are some of the end-use factors that can impact your final product color.

  • UV light. If you’ve ever seen faded lawn chairs in a front yard or a sun-bleached dashboard in a car, you’ve seen the results of inadequate UV protection. Nothing takes away from a product’s visual appeal faster than fading color. If your product is going to sit outdoors in direct sunlight for all or part of the day, UV and fading protection – or lightfastness – are a must in your color formulation.
  • Artificial display light. Will your product be displayed in a showroom? If so, make sure your colorant supplier is aware of that. Different types of artificial light sources can alter how customers perceive the color of a product. What looks bright and vibrant under LED lights might look less impressive under fluorescent or incandescent lighting.
  • Your manufacturing process. The machines and materials used in your product manufacturing process can directly impact color accuracy. What are the viscosity requirements for your product’s colorant? How will the colorant be dispersed into the product during production? What chemistries are you using for your product? Answers to these questions will determine how color chemists develop a color formula for your system.
  • Cost constraints. Colorant solutions are not one-size-fits-all. Selecting the right colorant for your thermoset plastic part is determined by your budget and the quality and performance you require. Typically, the more performance traits you want your color to have, the more you will have to spend to ensure a high-quality color formulation.

How to protect your final product color
Color is a major factor in the visual appeal and marketability of your product.
To prevent color fading and degradation, first provide your colorant supplier with as much information as possible about your manufacturing process and product end use. Also encourage your manufacturing and operations experts to work directly with your colorant supplier’s technical specialists and chemists. This allows a free exchange of technical information, without involving third-party salespeople or customer service representatives who may not have technical backgrounds.
With a thorough knowledge of your end-use requirements, your colorant supplier can help you develop the colorant solution that is right for your thermoset plastic product, production process and budget.

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