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Color Success

Color Lifecycle


To provide its refinish partners the best color match, PPG is engaged in every phase of a color’s lifespan. From working alongside major automotive OEM designers to collecting variant information in the field to providing comprehensive, up-to-date color matching tools, it’s a global effort that delivers world-class results.


Designing a color palette for a new vehicle requires a minimum of three to four years lead time before its introduction. Working with the automakers’ designers in Europe, Asia and North America, the PPG color styling teams forecast color trends and develop new colors and palettes in line with changing consumer tastes. It’s a process where PPG’s global networks of some 80 refinish color experts and seven color matching laboratories around the world play a key role. PPG refinish color experts have direct contact with OE manufacturers to capture yearly program information, including models, standards, interior, underhood and wheel color information.

“The palette developed for the automotive segment is influenced by culture, nature, fashion, interior design, color popularity and new pigment technology,” says Jane E. Harrington, PPG manager, color styling, automotive OEM coatings. “PPG’s global perspective on multiple end-use markets gives PPG unique color expertise that is unmatched in the industry.”

Harrington adds that PPG also introduces paint technologies and pigments that offer new opportunities for the automaker to differentiate their brand. A classic blue color for example can be updated with a fine bright aluminum to create a more liquid or silk appearance. From a collision refinish perspective, PPG’s involvement in the design phase greatly facilitates having the most colorcapable refinish paint lines, enabling color match technicians to create accurate prime formulations that are ready when new vehicles hit the streets.


Once vehicles start rolling off the assembly line, the refinish color variant teams kick in and begin the task of auditing the factory-applied colors to maintain accurate color information. Even under ideal conditions, subtle color variations are unavoidable, so PPG has an aggressive variant identification program. These audit programs work directly with the OEM factory to sample actual production results, especially with introductory colors.

Variants are also captured by color experts stationed at import vehicle points of entry. In North America, PPG has 10 different locations strategic to European and Asian automotive manufacturers. As vehicles are offloaded from ships, PPG color experts gather invaluable color information.

Customer service requests are another critical part of building the extensive PPG color database. If the repair will allow it, collision centers can send vehicle samples of difficult colors to the new Refinish Color Matching Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio. This next generation, fully automated facility delivers an unprecedented level of precision and accuracy. Most requests have a 24-hour turnaround. Finally, the PPG Refinish sales team is equipped with a Target Car Part list of new automotive colors that focuses their efforts on obtaining vehicle samples. The parts submitted from this program alone generate 60% of variants—the remaining 40% of PPG’s variant database is created from ports of entry and customer service requests.


Accidents happen, and that’s the third stage of the color lifecycle— the repair process. To maximize its extensive OEM and field information, PPG offers a line of tools and real world training in color and the repair process to find a spot-on color match quickly and easily.

Collision center pros have a number of ways to begin the color identification process. The Paint It digital color chip tool makes basic color identification easy with onscreen images. Since it’s a web-based system, Paint It searches can be conducted with any computer or tablet with an Internet browser. Another access-anywhere web tool is COLORMOBILE® Online Retrieval software. It provides the latest formulations, usually within 24 hours of them being added to the database. “Since special field variants are just coming in, it’s important that collision centers gain access to this information on quick turnaround,” says Mary Kimbro, global color director. “The ColorMobile online program makes this all possible. It’s definitely the way to go for quick color assessment anytime, anywhere.”

PPG PAINTMANAGER® color management software boasts several ways to find color matches with customizable searches of its formulation library. Once a month PaintManager software automatically updates its database with the latest primes, variants, and special field variants to help collision centers stay current.

PPG also remains deeply committed to offering high quality color decks, such as the ENVIROBASE® High Performance waterborne basecoat variant deck. Chips are sprayed with actual paint using the same application techniques commonly used in collision shops around the country. The result is the best possible alignment between the color chip and the color formula to the vehicle.

The multi-angle RAPIDMATCH™ X-5 spectrophotometer gives painters the best starting formula quickly. Searches are performed on an even larger database of prime, variant and special field formulas, pointing the user to the most likely “blendable” match. Returned formulas carry a match rating—the lower the match rating, the closer the formula will be to the measured vehicle color. The extensive variant database of car part and customer-request matches greatly enhance the success of the RapidMatch software.

PPG’s exclusive TOUCHMIX® computer mixing station works seamlessly with PaintManager software to mix colors accurately and with less waste. Coupled with the Paint Shop Interface utility, repair order data is automatically transferred from the body shop management system to the PaintManager software production management screen. This interface eliminates the need to “re-key” information, thus improving scheduling and closing repair jobs which help improve shop workflow and efficiency. No doubt, the paint mixing and application process demands “high throughput” carefully balanced with accurate and efficient operating practices. PPG’s dedication to a worldclass, waterborne color deck, industryleading program software application, and exclusive touchscreen technology in the mix room provide any collision center with the right tools for their next vehicle repair.

“In support of our overall corporate mission to be the leader in coatings, there’s no doubt that PPG’s dedication to color innovation and paint matching accuracy will continue to be our long-term, worldwide commitment,” says Kimbro.

Learn more about PPG's refinish color capabilities - visit the PPG Refinish web site.