Color is a key indicator used to measure and verify the quality of a product – from the quality and freshness of food products, to the color consistency and accuracy of paints, coatings, and building materials, to determining whether a processing step is complete in chemical manufacturing. Spectrophotometers are the preferred instrument used to perform the precise color measurements required for industrial and laboratory process management and quality control.
WHAT IS A SPECTROPHOTOMETER?
Spectrophotometers measure the wavelength of a light beam reflected off a material to determine its intensity, thereby allowing the precise identification of the color of the material. By measuring wavelengths, a spectrophotometer is able to measure the energy in the light beam across various frequencies, including the visible spectrum, ultraviolet (UV), and near-infrared, allowing for precise measurement of the color. In addition, spectrophotometers measure multiple light beams at one time, increasing the precision of the color measurement.
When coupled with color identification software, spectrophotometers allow manufacturers of diverse products to accurately monitor and evaluate the color of products throughout the manufacturing process against standards and expected results. Coating and paint manufacturers can maintain consistency in color between manufacturing lots; pharmaceutical manufacturers can ensure that the color of capsules and pills meet the exact requirements; and food manufacturers can evaluate the freshness and quality of products before, during, and after processing.
SPECTROPHOTOMETER OR COLORIMETER?
Colorimeters measure absorbance the three primary components of light – red, green, and blue – which are in the visible range of light. Because they measure light in the visible range, they can measure how the color will appear to the human eye.
Spectrophotometers measure a broader range of light frequencies and are not limited to measuring red, green, and blue color components. They measure subtle differences in color, allowing manufacturers to monitor and control processes using precise color identifications. As a results, spectrophotometers are more accurate than colorimeters for the color measurement and analysis required for most manufacturing and quality control requirements.
THE YEAR OF THE LIGHT
The United Nations has declared 2015 as the Year of the Light. In recognition of the importance of optical technologies and how they have revolutionized our lives, the United Nations will sponsor events throughout 2015 that bring together scientists, educators, and technical innovators from the non-profit and private sector. These events are intended to raise the global awareness of light-based technologies and how they provide sustainable development – from fiber optics used for communications, lighting, and illumination, to meters and measurement devices, to lasers – and how they have revolutionized the medical industry, manufacturing, electronics, and communications.
The use of light technologies in instruments such as spectrophotometers has enabled industry to improve manufacturing efficiency through more accurate quality control and safety for food and pharmaceutical products through precise color identification. HunterLab is proud to be an innovator in the use of light technology.