Color Quality Control for Traffic Signs Can Be Accomplished with Spectrophotometers

My driving habits changed when I got my commercial driver’s license. I started parallel parking like I was shooting pool. I slowed way down. And I started paying much more attention to traffic signs. Large vehicles react more slowly than smaller ones. An accident involving a large vehicle will be more serious. To drive safely, I needed to make decisions well ahead of time. With my attention divided between the condition of my vehicle, other vehicles, pedestrians, road conditions, and navigation, I needed to quickly and easily identify traffic signs. Color differences and reflectivity of signs made this possible. Without them, the roads would be far less safe to drive.

 

yellow signs
Warning signs are color coded to keep motorists safe. Image Credit: Flickr User Jay Galvin (CC BY 2.0)

 

Retroreflective Sheeting for Traffic Signs Must Meet Federal Color Standards

 

For this reason, traffic signs must conform to the standards established by the Federal Highway Administration1 regarding color and reflectivity. So, manufacturers of retroreflective sheeting for traffic signs must meet rigid color control standards. Whether supplying client companies or the next division of a vertically integrated company, color quality control is an essential stage of traffic sign manufacturing.

 

This is a matter of simple dollars and sense. In either case, rejections at delivery costs more than problems corrected on the production floor. Not only are time and materials wasted, but so are delivery costs and the energy needed to run the machinery. For busy shops, the capacity lost to rework comes with an opportunity cost as well. That time could have been used to fill a new, profitable contract.

 

Highway signs
Highway signs must conform to federal color standards. Image Credit: Flickr User Doug Kerr (CC BY 2.0)

 

Spectrophotometers Accomplish Objective Color Assay

 

Fortunately, the color standards do not rely on subjective, human analysis. When it comes to communicating precise differences in the shades of objects, human language lacks the necessary precision. To improve on our imperfect color description abilities, scientists back in the early 1930’s developed a method to correlate the human perception of color to the instrumental measurement of light in terms of the primary colors Red, Green, and Blue.  This allows an instrument to measure reflected light and provide numerical coordinates. As a result, acceptable tolerances for the colors of traffic signs can be objectively quantified.

 

Few people would claim to be able to look at a color and describe it numerically. A spectrophotometer is designed to do exactly that. As each sheet is extruded, spectrophotometric analysis can determine whether or not it will meet color tolerance standards. If sheets that do not meet standards are being produced at a growing rate, despite adherence to established formulas, managers should inspect their process to discover the problem. Doing so can lead to increased efficiency or adjustments in formulas.

 

old stop sign
Looks like someone was in a hurry. Image Credit: Flickr User GizmoDoc (CC BY 2.0)

 

Choosing the Right Instrument for the Job

 

The effects of texture play a large role in spectrophotometric assay. With retroreflective sheeting, the 45/0 geometry is the prescribed method and the ColorFlexEZ has been chosen by many manufacturers to check their production. The ColorFlexEZ has built in the special retroreflective trapezoidal acceptance tolerancing capability.  

 

With over sixty years of industry experience, the technicians at HunterLab have worked extensively in the color measurement of reflective materials. To learn which spectrophotometer would be best for your process, contact the experts at HunterLab today.

 

  1. “STOPsigns and More Product Info,” 2017, http://www.stopsignsandmore.com/t-product-info.aspx
Visual Assessment: When the Human Eye Is Just Not Enough for Accurate Color Measurement

As I drove down the road today, the colors painting the landscape reminded me why I love this time of year. In my part of the country the trees are beginning to turn bright hues of golden-yellow and reddish-orange. Every day I am amazed by the stunning visual assessment of color that our human eyes are capable of. Fall is also the time of year that has me reflecting on the colors that line the isles of my local store as I contemplate my next autumn-inspired wardrobe or décor purchase, or comforting crockpot meal. Once again the visual assessment of color invigorates my senses… and my purchasing choices, too.

The amazing human eye

The eye is one of the most important and complex parts of the human body. Consisting of over two million working parts and is second only to the brain in complexity. It is no wonder why vision is such an essential part of who we are and the way we perceive the world. Our visual assessment directs the way we feel, our choices in clothing, the foods we eat, and the products we buy.

visual assessment
The human eye is made up of over two million parts making it second only to the brain in complexity.
Image Source: Flickr user Ali T

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From Clear to Pure: Chemical and Color Analysis in the Petrochemical Industry

Chemical analysis is an intricate part of our everyday lives. From the water we drink to the food we eat to the fuel we put into our car, nearly everything we consume has undergone some form of chemical analysis before use. Although it’s likely not something we consider as we go about our daily activities, it’s a vital aspect of the production process for many things and something we all rely upon for quality assurance.

Petrochemical manufacturers know that chemical analysis is one of the most important steps in the monitoring of chemical compounds in the petroleum refining process. It is also one of the most unique and difficult processes to quantify and analyze. The ability to detect color changes is an important step in the process for identifying contaminants and impurities. With the right technology, the challenges of chemical analysis can be met.

color analysis
Clear liquids are classified based on visual comparison.

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Colorimetric Scores: Making Sure Your Tomatoes Make the Grade

The bright red color of the tomato can tell us a lot about quality and nutrition.

Color terminology has been changing; what we once called red is now referred to as magenta. Well, you know how the song goes: “you say tomato; I saw tomahto.” However, when it comes to color there is only one standard by which to abide.

Colorimetric scores are an important component for quantifying color in order to create the measurements needed to relate product quality to a grading scale. These scores have been developed through extensive research and analysis of tomato products at various stages of production to ensure color consistency and maturity. Various colorimetric methods and spectrophotometers have been used to revolutionize the tomato industry and lead to higher standards in all tomato-based products. Continue reading

Color Psychology: Subliminal Messaging, Courtesy of Your Local Pharmacy
pill color comic
What are your pills telling you?
Image Source: www.glasbergen.com

Numerous studies have recently been conducted regarding color psychology. Color can tell us a lot about who we are, how we are feeling, and the choices we make. Why do people prefer their lemonade pink? And why is that “little pill” blue? Well, it is certainly not by accident. As human beings, there is a direct correlation between our senses and color. Color psychology not only impacts our internal thought processes, it also has a great deal of influence on consumerism — especially when it comes to pharmaceuticals. All major drug corporations know that color is one of the most important ingredients in prescription medications. That is why they depend on the highest levels of color technology and spectrophotometry in order to maintain consistency and accuracy in their product. Continue reading

What’s Really in Prescription Drugs? The Value of Impurity Analysis and Spectrophotometers

Impurity analysis is not only important for maintaining consistency and product quality. Patient safety and reliability are equally important, if not more so. Lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies have reached epidemic levels over the past decade, and the number of products recalled has increased accordingly. These figures are not only astonishing, but unacceptable and preventable. Safety and effectiveness are the top concerns for pharmaceutical consumers, and companies must make sure that they use the highest level of technology to assure patient safety and satisfaction.

Super Man and Kryptonite
The consequences of impurities may be greater than you think.
Image Source: www.glasbergen.com

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The Taste of Success: How Colorimetry Can Exploit the Brain’s Perception of Food Quality
Colorimetry has been used in a variety of scientific studies to create specific color standards and visual comparisons. The standards and comparisons within this field can be of great value when evaluating color and consistently repeating data. Test results in colorimetrics through the use of spectrophotometers can give us a wealth of information about the choices we make that are dependent on color, especially those involving the foods we eat.
Green to yellow bananas
Color is a deciding factor for consumers when it comes to food choices. Food has to “look right” to “taste right.” Image source: Flickr user Ian Ransley

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