During the 1990’s BASF and Audi jointly developed the theory of how to compare mathematically the colors of automotive base coat/clear coat, including, significantly, popular modern paint types which contain metal or mica flakes, based upon spectroscopic analysis. They validated that their physics-based approach would yield results comparable to but more precise than human perception of color. Thus, they developed a methodology to compare two painted surfaces and determine, using spectroscopic analysis, whether a human (someone approving a new batch of paint, or accepting prepainted hang-on parts, or, a customer) would conclude that the colors matched. That work has led to a German industry DIN standard (issued March, 2001)
Based upon that joint work, BASF went on to develop a powerful and complex software program and related procedures for controlling and comparing paint color at both the final assembly plant and at the plants of each of the suppliers of painted parts. The program uses inputs from hand held spectroscopes made by a variety of suppliers. This provides the paint shop manager with both the data base and the analytical tools to make possible the consistent, objective control of color throughout a model’s entire production run. It is as applicable to analysis of successive new batches of paint as it is to the color match between body panels and painted parts coming from outside suppliers. The program, which is licensed by BASF to automotive OEM’s, suppliers, and other paint vendors, is called ColorCARE. It is now fully installed world-wide by Audi.
ColorCARE has eliminated most problems of color matching. Suppliers using ColorCARE can consistently and objectively control the color of their painted parts. The suppliers can ensure that the color of their parts is within standard and will be perceived as matching the painted body before the parts ever leave the suppliers’ plants. The result has been a significant reduction in rejections of paint or painted parts, and an end to all arguments regarding color match.