X-Rite Advances Strategy for Going Beyond Color in Characterizing Material Appearance

GRAND RAPIDS, MIX-Rite Incorporated, a global leader in color science and technology, and its subsidiary Pantone LLC, today announced the extension of their pioneering work to combine color imaging with spectrophotometry for a characterization of today’s most complex materials that goes beyond just color.

X-Rite’s latest introduction, the MA-T family of multi-angle spectrophotometers, is the most recent in a line of imaging-enabled products that enables users to characterize color along with other aspects of material appearance in a standardized manner. X-Rite has already this breakthrough approach in the recently launched MetaVue, a 45/0 non-contact instrument that combines color measurement and imaging for retail paint operations, and in the Total Appearance Capture ecosystem, which is gaining wide acceptance in the automotive, consumer electronics and other industries where virtualization is streamlining the design and manufacturing process. X-Rite plans to introduce an imaging-enabled spectrophotometer for industrial applications to round out its strategic approach.

In today’s demanding and fast-paced marketplace, quantifying color alone is not enough. In the automotive market, companies are increasingly differentiating themselves with more complex extreme effect exterior finishes that require more than color to fully characterize. At the same time, the concept of “zero-gap” design—where adjacent product parts are flush with each other rather than separated by chrome, rubber and other materials—requires closer harmony in finishes. In the do-it-yourself market, customer expectations for accurate paint matches are rising, with “match this” requests going far beyond traditional paint samples to carpet, fuzzy pillows, colored glassware and even pets. Finally, across many industries—automotive, fashion, housewares, consumer electronics—the desire to accelerate speed-to-market is driving the adoption of design virtualization, which requires the characterization of all aspects of a physical material’s appearance to ensure that 3D designs accurately represent the final product.

“This is an exciting time for X-Rite and our customers,” said Chris Winczewski, vice president, strategy and product planning at X-Rite. “Our decades of leadership in the measurement of color are the foundation that enable us to take material characterization to the next level, incorporating new material appearance characteristics in conjunction with color to more fully quantify the physical truth of a sample being measured. We’re combining image capture and spectral measurement across our entire product line to bring brand new capabilities to the market that will speed product development, approval processes and time-to-market while reducing costs and improving consistency across even the most complex materials and global supply chains.”

Devices without imaging capability use optical averaging to characterize color, and are therefore limited in their ability to discern differences in color across a sample. The addition of imaging to color measurement devices allows extraction of full spectral data for each pixel across the material being measured. It enables the quantification of color and material appearance in the way that the human eye perceives these characteristics.

“Introduction of pixel level analysis in the latest generation of X-Rite instruments is a game-changer,” Winczewski added. “Using built-in full-color cameras and new methods of standardizing the description of material appearance characteristics will remove barriers between the physical and virtual worlds, dramatically changing the way brands and suppliers think about, measure and manage materials.”

The X-Rite MA-T family utilizes a color camera coupled with multi-angle measurement technology (either 6 or 12 angles) to achieve precise characterization of effect finishes. Accompanying AutoQC software translates measurements into three scales: color, sparkle and coarseness. This enables accurate communication of complex material characteristics, resulting in faster time to market and reduced opportunity for error.

X-Rite MetaVue is a non-contact imaging spectrophotometer for retail paint matching, introducing a new level of accuracy to a wider variety of customer samples. It provides precise color matches with an advanced smart spot image feature that matches color, taking into consideration the impact of texture and other appearance effects that typically skew measurements of materials like carpet, vinyl or fabric. It features an easy-to-use interface with a live video preview of the actual sample and a measurement button on the instrument, reducing mistakes and waste among paint counter associates, regardless of their level of experience.

The X-Rite Total Appearance Capture (TAC™) ecosystem brings a new level of realism and efficiency to the capture, communication and digital presentation of physical materials in the virtual world. TAC enables designers, 3D artists, material specifiers and marketers to bring their product designs to life with digital materials that have the exact same visual characteristics as their physical counterparts. TAC’s sophisticated technology captures physically accurate material measurements and appearance properties, reducing the need for manual adjustments to scanned materials. The TAC Virtual Light Booth provides an unparalleled ability to accurately compare physical and digital material samples under the exact same perceptual conditions—from illumination to contextual to observational factors. The technology aims to enable designers to make more informed material selections, reduce approval times, improve product quality and accelerate time to market.

“The goal of our product development efforts is to deliver measurement capabilities that match the way the eye sees both color and material appearance,” Winczewski concludes.

“The MA-T family, MetaVue, and TAC ecosystem are just the beginning. We’ll continue our groundbreaking research efforts into the future to advance the way people perceive, measure, manage and communicate both color and appearance characteristics.”