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Things are even better with digital colour management

Spies Hecker’s digital colour measuring devices, like ColorDialog Phoenix, simplify and speed up work processes in the bodyshop. The devices operate intuitively, are user-friendly, and results can be optimised with just a few additional steps.

Kevin Welling, Training Academy Manager for Axalta Coating Systems in the UK and Ireland has extensive experience, and confidently states, “the future of colour management is digital.” He talks through six practical tips on how digital colour measurement can work even better.

Prolonged exposure to intense sunshine will significantly increase a substrate’s temperature. This can cause some shades that contain thermochromatic pigments to change, which can in turn lead to incorrect colour measurement. Welling’s advice is simple. “In the summer months, do not carry out colour measurements outside; do it in the workshop where the object temperature should be between at least 15oC and up to a maximum of 35oC,” he says.

The Spies Hecker spectrophotometer, ColorDialog Phoenix, includes two calibration tiles, one white and one a metallic blue, which are used for standard calibration of the device. These tiles must always be kept clean, which is why they are also protected in the box. However, if they get dirty, they must be cleaned only with warm water and a soft, microfibre cloth. Soap or solvents must never be used on them.

Refinish professionals know that even in the case of original OEM coatings, slight colour variations can occur on the same vehicle due to different OEM applications and finishing. Welling recommends to always measure the colour close to the point of damage.

Even high-tech devices can be affected by dirt and very minor surface scratches in the paintwork. As a result, colour measurement precision can be reduced, especially in dark colours like black and blue, and in some extreme cases, the device may interpret surface scratches as a phantom metallic effect for dark solid colours. Welling says, “not only should you clean and polish the paintwork at the measuring point, but you may also need to sand it gently with 3,000 grit paper and polish on well-worn paint finishes. This only takes a few minutes but ensures that you get a highly accurate measurement result.”

ColorDialog Phoenix measures a colour and can send the measurement results over WiFi to a PC or other device using the Phoenix formula software. “I recommend specifying manufacturer information, colour code and paint quality in the software,” says Welling. “That’s just a small thing, but it increases the accuracy and speed of finding the right mixing formula.”

After each colour measurement on a customer vehicle, the formula should be saved in the Phoenix software as a customer formula once it has been corrected by the system. Additional customer-specific data can be saved alongside it. Welling says, “this is how you gradually build up your bodyshop’s colour database with customer-specific formulas and sample spray out cards that will be useful, not only for you but also for your colleagues, because it will make subsequent paint repairs on the same colour much easier.”

An overview of all Spies Hecker colour tools and useful colour matching videos can be found at