Color can play an important role in product design. Achieving the right color, however, has usually been a challenge. It can take weeks to get the color right. Noted Joel Matthews, Global Product Manager – Secondary Operations at Protolabs, a typical color matching process involves obtaining colored resins, then working through several iterations back and forth to obtain the right color. “It can be a slow, drawn out process.”
That’s where Protolabs Injection Molding color matching service comes in. New to Protolabs, this injection molding service quickly matches colors for plastic injection-molded parts, in as little as three days. Protolabs custom colorant service works with PolyOne’s PINPOINT Express Color and Dosing System, which enables Protolabs to develop custom colors for plastics at its facilities.
“It’s important to ensure that the color pigments and the molding resin are compatible,” notes Matthews. Thus, the system uses a combination of liquid colorants, hardware, and software to match and manufacture colors on site. In some cases, it can take as little as an hour to match colors. Presently, nearly any color can be matched, with the exception of metallics, neons, and brighteners. Thus, customers can provide Pantone numbers or part samples and Protolabs will match the custom color.
So far Protolabs has tested 13 resins that are compatible with the Pantone colors and continues to test others. These 13 are:
The steps for color-matching are easy. You can use any standard plastic Pantone or PMS color from the specification—no sample is required. But if you want to supply a sample, make sure it has a flat area that is larger than a quarter so it can scanned by the spectrophotometer. Then send the non-returnable sample to Protolabs. It’s that easy.
Protolabs will send you a sample plaque for approval in as fast as three days. (Multiple color match requests may take longer.) Once you approve the color, you can receive a quote for molds and piece parts. Then, the color and material combination can be used on any current or future mold.
Once the sample plaque is approved, all future color matched parts will be manufactured to that unique color and resin combination. From a quality perspective, Protolabs guarantees run to run, and part to part consistency to be less than or equal to 3 Delta E to the approved sample plaque. Delta E is the standard calculation which measures color variation using a spectrophotometer.
In addition to custom color matching, Protolabs also offers several ways to save you time and money by helping to customize and complete your injection molded parts. Other customization services at Protolabs include: part marking, threaded inserts, Mold-Tech finishes, basic assembly as well as kitting and packaging.
Park marking puts a unique text or graphical feature on a part. Protolabs offers pad printing and laser engraving services to customize your part.
Pad printing transfers a two-dimensional image, such as a company logo, onto the three-dimensional part. Protolabs will review your marking requirement for size, color, and complexity restrictions to make sure your pad printed parts will look their best.
Laser engraving is another option for part marking. It can be applied to the mold or directly to final injection molded parts. Engravings can include information such as logos or part numbers. Laser engraving ensures crisp, consistent information on each part or serialization.
Protolabs can also install threaded inserts if insert molding is not an option for your design. Heat staking and ultrasonic welding are the two methods Protolabs uses to install threaded inserts post manufacturing.
In addition to custom colorant, mold texturing is another way to customize the look and feel of your injection molded part. With mold texturing, you can expect the equivalent of a Mold-Tech finish. Finishing can also improve part strength as well as improve cosmetic appearance.
Protolabs also offers basic part assembly options including fastening parts together, drilling holes that could not have been molded into the part or removing excess material to make the parts functional for final use.
Lastly, Protolabs can also help save you time and money by providing kitting, labeling, and packaging services for your injection molded parts. These additional services can be used to fulfill manufacturing jobs or provide your customers completed products.
So, check out all of Protolabs color matching and customized injection molding options at 877-479-3680 or [email protected]. To get your next design project started today, simply upload a 3D CAD model for an interactive quote within hours.