Digital colour co-ordination

19 April 2024

What would it be like if a customer could see the colour combination of their future product not just as an abstract code, but could see the product realistically in advance? 3D printing is only of limited help here, as the prototypes do not have the same optical and mechanical properties as the finished product. A new digital sampling solution from Covestro provides a remedy. Its aim is to speed up the process from design to series production so that customers can realistically visualise product designs at an early stage of development and structure them in terms of surface.

The advantages are obvious: customers do not need to invest in expensive prototype tools and replacement materials or in complex colour matching processes. Covestro expects that initial sampling loops can be carried out completely virtually to a certain extent – this saves time and material resources. In future, the company will offer all services related to sampling under the Imagio® CQ brand. The suffix “CQ” stands for Circular Intelligence and emphasizes that the technology makes its contribution to a circular
economy in the form of significant material savings.

ʺOur strategy is to get in touch with our customers at an early stage of product design, when the first material specifications are being defined,ʺ explains Dr. Tobias Rausch, Business Development Digital Sampling in the Engineering Plastics business unit at Covestro and head of the project. ʺWe also want to facilitate collaboration between cross-site teams with new digital tools such as catalogues and material twins.ʺ


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Faster and more efficient

Customers’ product development requirements are constantly growing: they want to be flexible in their choice of materials and increasingly value a more sustainable origin. At the same time, they want to bring their products to market faster while increasing efficiency and saving costs. In addition, they often work in several teams across regions, which need to communicate effectively with each other and also exchange sample parts.

The optimal solution for these requirements is to involve Covestro and its Imagio® CQ programme at an early stage. This enables customers to make a material decision more quickly and generate and visually evaluate sample parts in the early stages of development. This saves time and costs during specification and the suitability of more sustainable plastics can also be tested at an early stage. In the three-dimensional space of colour, material and finish (CMF), the possibilities are almost unlimited.

The backbone of the digital solution is X-Rite/Pantone’s Total Appearance Capture (TAC) technology, which captures optical properties such as colour, gloss, transparency, translucency or texture of a specific material sample using an optical appearance measurement device. The data is stored in a special data format. This is supported by leading rendering software tools that Covestro customers use for their design and marketing visualization. Covestro’s Color & Design Centers (CDCs) in Filago, Italy, Newark, USA, and the Caojing and Guangzhou facilities in China are already equipped with the technology to create digital twins of materials.

A new tool for sales and marketing to search for colour combinations – the Imagio® Color Finder (ICF) – also serves to achieve this goal. Overall, Covestro expects a shift from costly colour matching requests in the CDCs to existing colour codes with a better search experience.

The Imagio® CQ family has now been expanded to include a module called Imagio®Optical Material Data. The target group here are experts from the field of development and simulation of optical components, i.e. vehicle headlights and interior lighting, as well as general lighting. The module is already being tested with customers and will be the first Imagio® module to be available after the required registration. On the one hand, it will be possible to search specifically for optical material properties in our EP portfolio and on the other, Covestro will provide the necessary data for optical simulation programmes such as Ansys Speos, Optis LightTools or customers’ own simulation solutions.

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