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Handheld colour matching instrument

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article image PocketSpec ColorQA handheld colour matcher.

POCKETSPEC ColorQA, from IDM Instruments , is a small handheld device that accurately compares colour.

The unit contains a probe with an electro-optic sensor. Upon contacting the object being measured, the probe strobes a white LED, while the tri-colour photo diode detector measures the reflectivity of the object in the red, green and blue colour spectra.

The measurement is then processed in the unit's micro-controller, and the calculated colour value is displayed on an LCD in a red-green-blue (RGB) numerical scale. This colour reading will remain on the first line of the LCD display as the Target Colour. Any subsequent sample readings of any other colour are compared to this Target Colour for a match.

The reading for the second colour appears on the second line. The measurement of this colour is compared to the measurement of the first colour and the difference in the two measurements is shown on the third line. The percentage difference is shown on the forth line.

The ColorQA is suitable for any industry that needs to know a variance of colour. While some users will be looking for a perfect colour match, it will also show the percent of colour variance between two colours which allows the user to determine if a colour is within the allowable variance requested.

The ColorQA is easier to use, and less expensive than spectrophotometers, which provide accurate colour comparisons, but are difficult to learn, time-consuming to train, and expensive to purchase.

The human eye is can also used for comparing colours, but interpretation can be problematic. While one person may think the colour matches another person will not. Colour is subjective and the human eye can become exhausted when trying to identify small differences in two similar colours, particularly on a repetitive basis.

Ambient room lighting also affects the way a colour appears to the human eye. The ColorQA scientifically determines if the target and sample colours match. The tip blocks all exterior light and focuses solely on actual colour.

The ColorQA differentiates 16,581,375 colour variances. Proprietary colour systems like Toyo and Pantone only represents a fraction of the colours that are possible. These proprietary colour systems limit the user to their colour charts but the ColorQA can be used to match any colour with no proprietary systems or limitations.

The ColorQA is also available with a built in Mini-USB connection and software which compares colours in Red Green Blue (RGB) and in LAB (CIE l*a*b*) which is the highly sought comparison system for standards comparison in ISO 9002 industries. It is a complete system that can download data to Access or Excel.

The target colour is stored and virtually unlimited sample colours are measured. The delta and percent differences are digitally reported as well as graphically as shown in the sample screen images.

The ColorQA is appropriate for use in any colour sensitive industry. The ColorQA is a "go / no-go" gauge which is suitable for selection between several colour options for a match.

The ColorQA is used in industrial applications such as metal coatings, industrial painting, injection moulding, rubber or plastic coatings, graphics, manufactured exhibits, boats, airplanes, scientific or geographic sampling, model making, industrial design, sign painting, or leather and cloth fabrication.

The display is a four lines x 12 character LCD. The ColorQA has two control buttons. Measurement area is 7mm.

The unit has a probe tip that is 1cm long and it is 168.17mm (6.7”) long, 48mm (1.9”) wide and 61mm (2.4”) high. The device weighs 115g (4oz) with the battery, a 6V J Cell battery that comes included.

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