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Ch14. 拆招CMF設計談難以避免的色差

CMF is a specific discipline within industrial design that focuses on the development of a product’s color, material, and finish. Unwrap CMF shares bite-sized stories of CMF Design to inform and inspire those interested in this niche yet fascinating field, with digestible contents for anyone and everyone. Comments and inspirations are welcome!

Last chapter briefly introduced CMF sign-off, where designers decide an acceptable limit range from production. Sounds simple, right? (中文請見下方)

Let’s start with a little experiment: go look for items with black matte finishing, such as a laptop or water bottle cap. Next, drop a bit of water on the surface to simulate partial gloss. Compared to glossy black, doesn’t matte black always look somewhat “gray-ish” and no way to look as black as the glossy black?

That says, even with the same material and process, colors can vary across different finishings. Glossy surface treatment usually makes color appear darker and more saturated.

Color stability also differs across materials and processes. For example, coloring of metal-like pearl painting is relatively stable once the recipe is fixed. In contrast, coloring of anodized metal is more challenging. Staying just 0.01 second longer or placed in different locations in the anodizing sink can already cause color difference within the same batch.

Some materials and processes also come with coloring limitations, such as PVD process can achieve yellow and blue, but cannot achieve red and purple without hiccups.

Rumor says that Apple owns color-sorting assembly lines that can divide color limits into groups, and then assemble different parts of the same color together. That explains why color difference is rare on iPhone, but everyone’s rose gold iPhone can look different. In any case, this color-sorting assembly line requires high investment and strict SOP, and is not a model that any other company can easily adapt to.

The challenges of CMF sign-off process is not only to determine an acceptable color range, but also to consider the various materials and processes used on the product, as well as their respective color stability and limitation. And don’t forget, the narrower the limit range, the higher the production cost. It really is not that simple.

CMF為Color Material and Finishing,屬於工業設計旗下專注於產品色彩、材質、及表面處理工藝的關鍵一環。Unwrap CMF彩材拆拆圍繞著這個主題,以淺而易懂的小故事拆解CMF設計的日常。歡迎留言分享!








Color-sorting assembly line can put same-color parts together, but separately sold parts (i.e. watch strap) cannot be sorted like this.
Color stability varies across processes and materials, such as painted plastic and anodized metal, hence the color difference.
Different reflection across various materials can also cause color gaps, as one of the challenges in color-matching.

Enjoy learning? Use the CMF terminologies mentioned above and continue on with your own research journey on the web. Comments and inspirations are welcome!
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Problem-solving ??? ?????. Former head of CMF at Motorola. A New York-based and world-traveling Design Consultant with over 13 years of specialty in CMF Design. 高雄囡仔,前摩托羅拉CMF設計團隊負責人,目前定居於紐約並遊牧世界,任自由撰稿人兼CMF設計顧問,持續投入在CMF設計的科普推廣,並為WGSN及羅技等公司提供CMF專案支持或諮詢服務。

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