Development of a Color Simulation and Quality Management System for Plastic Composite Products

Exel PLC was in need of a reliable system that can be integrated into the company’s quality management system to monitor the color of plastic composite products and to improve the predictability of the colors produced. None of the commercially available systems were able to meet Exel PLC’s demands.

In the first stage of the project, the InFotonics Center Joensuu conducted a preliminary analysis of the possibilities for creating a color management system and designed a system concept. The next stage of the project saw the implementation of the system and its delivery on a turnkey basis. The system combines a commercial spectral measurement device and a piece of software developed by the InFotonics Center Joensuu. Depending on the application needs, the system can be used for color simulation and quality management purposes alike.

In color simulation, the system can be used to calculate the color obtained using certain raw materials or the raw materials needed to produce a certain color. In product quality management, a user measures the color of an object and the system tells whether or not the color is acceptable by comparing the result to predefined color requirements.

The system developed for Exel PLC enables the company to reliably monitor the quality of its plastic composite products both in real time and in the long run. The simulation of product colors, in turn, can be used to significantly reduce the number of expensive trial runs and to diminish the resulting raw material loss. Moreover, the system will facilitate the communication between the employees of Exel PLC and its customers.

The system developed by the InFotonics Center Joensuu has enabled us not only to carry out quality management, but also to pin down the reasons behind variation in the quality of colors. This speeds up problem-solving and diminishes the amount of production loss in problem situations. Color simulation has proven to be an efficient way of coming very close to a new, sought-after color shade without performing trial runs. The tool is especially efficient in giving immediate feedback on how adding a certain raw material will affect the color of the end product, says factory manager Jari Koskinen of the Exel Kivara factory.

Exel PLC designs, manufactures and markets composite profiles for industrial applications. For more information on the company, see: www.exelcomposites.com.