Glass Color Analysis: The Role of Spectrophotometric Technology in Popular Building Materials

My family lives in an area with overcrowded schools, so when a bond was passed to build two new schools in our community and get our kids back into real classrooms with smaller class sizes, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The new schools were finished last spring and boasted the most state-of-the-art architecture that gleamed with floor to ceiling windows. These beautiful buildings with their walls of glass are like most modern day structures, where glass is a dominating feature and choice in building materials. Glass color can serve a variety of functions in addition to aesthetic appeal including heat retention, solar reflectance value, sound protection, as well as many other technical features. Glass color analysis serves an important function in glass production and manufacturing, and is made simple and easy with the use of modern spectrophotometers.

skyscraper glass color
Glass is a dominating choice in modern day architecture and offers features that optimize functionality.
Image Source: Flickr user Ricardo Diaz

The importance of glass color in architectural applications

Although glass color and reflectance value are used for a variety of functional features, perhaps the greatest need for glass color analysis is to “ensure  the creative and artistic intent of the designer, and to minimize the high cost of replacing off color panels in a structure.” For many designers, the goal is to create a transparent masterpiece that opens up a whole new outlook on nature or a unique perspective of the world around us, like the glass balcony of the Sears Tower or the iconic crystalline glass pyramid that makes up the Lourvre Museum in France. The reflective quality of glass can provide both aesthetic appeal and solar reflectance value, but can create challenges in glass color cohesiveness without proper color measurement instrumentation. Buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, are popular tourist destinations due to the significant design elements created with glass, which have been carefully constructed to uphold the integrity of the design and the intent of the artist.

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Sears Tower balcony glass color
The glass balcony of the Sears Tower was added 1300 feet above the city streets. The clear glass color offers an amazing perspective and view, yet has the strength to be structurally safe enough to stand upon.
Image Source: Flickr user Basharat Alam Shah

Glass offers a near limitless medium for creativity, and can be manipulated into nearly any form and/or color of building material. Glass color integrity and consistency are essential for design and function, and require continual spectral monitoring throughout production to ensure product quality. Clarity, color, and reflectance can all be measured using spectrophotometers, and advanced technology makes this process simple and easy to achieve.

circle window glass color
Glass is both pleasing to the eye and functional. When used as a building material, glass can take nearly any form, color, or shape and offers endless possibilities for architectural design.
Image Source: Flickr user momo

Spectrophotometers and glass color analysis

Glass color measurement is achieved in two ways: through transmission measurement or reflectance value. When measuring glass products with functional or aesthetic coatings, both transmission and reflectance measurements work together to achieve accurate color analysis. The transmission values represent the way color is seen from the inside looking out, and the reflectance values represent the color perspective from the outside looking in.

HunterLab is a leader in glass color measurement and has developed a variety of spectrophotometers for an assortment of applications and purposes. We specialize in the color measurement of glass building materials and understand the challenges associated with various coatings, colors, and shine. Our spectrophotometers utilize state-of-the-art technology to provide accurate and quantitative color measurement, and can even measure the thickness of AR (anti-reflective) and other coatings. Over the years, we have worked with many leaders in the glass manufacturing and have become a trusted name in the industry. Contact HunterLab today to learn more about color measurement in the glass and building supply industry.

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