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Rexam Graphics

  • Cost effective solution utilizing Microsoft Excel
  • User friendly and versatile data collection
  • Completely accurate data collection

Over the past 60 years, Rexam Graphics, South Hadley, MA, has become a world leading manufacturer of electronic imaging materials which include precision-coated papers and films for color printing, plotting and copying technologies. Rexam manufactures and supplies products to some of the world's largest color printer equipment manufacturers, and continues to be a major supplier of microfilm, conductive film and photo tool products worldwide.

Since color tolerances in electronic imaging materials are tight and quality control is critical, Rexam maintains high quality standards during their manufacturing and R&D processes. With that superior quality goal in mind, Rexam constantly monitors color, color change and overall color gamut for consistency, durability, and overall color fidelity.

Color quality system

Troy McBride, an engineer with Rexam, developed a Microsoft Excel-based automated data collection system for product testing. His operating system is Windows 95. The automated system ensures efficiency, accuracy and consistency in manufacturing and R&D. The system utilizes Model 938 spectrodensitometers and Model 301 densitometers by X-Rite Corporation, Grandville, MI. Designed for the printing industry, the spectrodensitometer combines the capabilities of a spectrophotometer, a colorimeter, and a densitometer in a single color measurement instrument. The spectrodensitometer measures and calculates data, and converts it into different numeric color expressions. The densitometer measures color characteristics such as density, dot, trap, hue error/grayness, and print contrast.

The X-Rite instruments offer serial (RS232) output, therefore allowing direct connection to PC com ports. To complete the automated data collection system, McBride uses WinWedge Standard by TAL Technologies, Inc. which serves as the interface between the instruments and his Excel-based system. WinWedge parses and filters the data from the instruments to ensure that only the necessary data is transmitted in the proper format to the Excel spreadsheet.

To further ease the data collection and analysis process, McBride developed a series of Excel templates for each of the different instruments and applications. To use the templates, the user simply selects the measuring instrument from a group of icons, and the appropriate WinWedge configuration file is automatically opened, along with the Excel spreadsheet template. The user is then ready to start taking readings from the instrument and Excel performs the analysis. The analysis includes color difference measurements, color gamut calculations, and graphing routines.

Before developing this system, McBride noted that they used a custom program that didn't suit their needs. The new data collection and analysis system offers a flexible and analytically powerful solution, which is also user-friendly and cost-effective.

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