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What is Color Quality Control?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Color quality control is a process used to ensure the consistency, repeatability, and reliability of color in industries ranging from paint manufacturing to magazine printing. It includes a number of measures, ranging from using scientific instruments to collect very precise data about colors used in a particular project to having personnel responsible for walking the line to check for violations of procedure that might compromise color quality. People involved in the production of paints, dyes, inks, and so forth often attend training programs to learn more about color quality control.

Consumers expect colors to remain consistent across batches and products; knitters, for example, rely on being able to purchase matching yarns for projects. In addition, very consistent and precise coloring is expected for things like logos, as many companies use color extensively in their product branding and marketing and they rely on consistent, even color for consumer recognition.

Part of color quality control requires clearly defining colors at the start of a project, using a standardized system so there can be no confusion. In printing, for example, many people use the cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (CMYK) system for blending and matching colors. This information is used to determine how to mix inks, dyes, and paints to produce products of the desired shade. The mixing process is carefully regulated and concerns like discoloring stabilizers must also be addressed.

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As a project is produced, whether it is a set of slides being developed for a photographer or a batch of house paint, color quality control continues with monitoring of the project during production. If signs of problems are identified, they are addressed immediately. These can include anything from discolorations of the finished project to the appearance of specks or lines where they should not be. People must be able to identify problems as they develop and act quickly to correct them before the project is compromised.

Specialists in color quality control usually have very good vision and are skilled at distinguishing subtle shading and coloration differences. They also have training in color theory and are sometimes graduates of art schools. They are familiar with systems used to classify and quantify colors and are also comfortable with the use of scientific instruments like spectrometers used to analyze products for color variations. In some workplaces, incentives are provided in the form of bonuses to people who identify and fix color problems quickly, as this will save the company money.

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