Sample-licious: Color Trends from Americhem

I got me a treat in the mail today: The 2010-2011 Color Trends Projections from masterbatch and color concentrate manufacturer Americhem. This collection 48 chips (molded from what feels like polyethylene) features 12 variations of what they feel will be “each month’s most popular color.” Because plastic part color depends so much on surface finish, the chips have a gloss on one side and matte finish on the other.

A friend of mine e-mailed me a few days back asking:

I am looking into purchasing a new Pantone set and I just want to cry.  There has to be a better system that is adopted by INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS than PMS or Munsell.  I don’t need to color match so much as color select. I often find myself looking through the new Ralph Lauren interior paints color book at Home Depot or a Sikkens color book of the latest automotive finishes.  And Sabic or Eastman have some great online tools, but where is the standard? I was in China late 2009 and the design firm/ manufacturer I met with had no fewer than 9 color systems mounted on their wall to reference.  I like the selection and color consistency of Akzo Nobel, but not everything is painted.  Do you have some insights?

Damn good question, Mike. Thanks.

I wish I had a magic answer for him, but I don’t. I know, $3300 for a bunch of styrene chips (from Pantone). Despite their being the standard in the printing industry, I have a hard time with matching a color chip for a plastic that has subsurface scattering and the quality of the color is so different. I know of folks who use automotive chips for the compounders to match, but that’s particularly difficult if it’s a metallic. There really should be a standard, but because colorant packages look and react differently in each resin, I can’t imagine anyone would be able to afford a complete set. Until then, it’s probably still paint chips and a colorimeter.

So I wandered around the Interwebs, looking at the big colorant suppliers like Clariant, Ferro, Spartech, PCC and others… and then I found this Color Trends available from Americhem. It’d be great if more colorant suppliers could find a cost-effective method of producing color samples. Maybe there are…

So, is there a standard? What have you guys found?What do you use? Let me know.

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2 Responses to “Sample-licious: Color Trends from Americhem”


  1. 2 pinky March 23, 2010 at 7:19 am

    this is the german system for the industry… called RAL
    and used by any german company producing anything…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAL_%28color_space_system%29

    http://www.ral-digital.de/deutsch/ralclassic_namen.htm


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