Weekend painters take for granted that there is a difference between color and haze, sheen and gloss. But professional painters know that the final, dried appearance of a coating is determined not simply by choosing a color finish and getting to work. Different hazes and sheen can affect the final appearance and brilliance of a coating in the same way that different light sources and coating thickness can. Like a maestro conducting an orchestra full of instruments, paint chemists must manipulate and control a number of variables down to the molecular level. Not only are chemists responsible for creating the right paints once, but also for stabilizing them in a way that can be repeated over and over in a production environment.
One of the tools that paint chemists use during this complicated process is the haze meter. Haze meters measure the diffused and scattered light shone onto a painted surface. These measurements help determine any cloudiness or imperfection in the brilliance of the coating. However, to understand how haze meters work, it is first important to understand what variables impact haze in the first place. And to understand that, we must remind ourselves how paint even comes to exist in the first place.
Paint is manufactured by dispersing pigments (used for color) and resin (used for drying and adhesion) into solvents. Other additives may be added to the compound to manipulate qualities like drying speed, spreadability, and sheen. Any inconsistency or irregularity in the dispersion process can lead to inconsistency and irregularity in the end result itself…including the gloss. In other words, imperfect production leads to cloudiness or milkiness in the paint itself.
Haze meters measure the diffusion of light in coatings by simulating different light conditions and angles in a strictly controlled environment. Even better, software like Easy Link by BYK allow scientists and paint engineers to carefully track and monitor the results of their haze meter evaluations. For paint manufacturers to produce high quality paints void of fogginess or cloudiness, these results must not only confirm the gloss is clear, but also the elements of the mixture that led to that end result. These elements can then be replicated for mass manufacture of paints that appear clear and glossy instead of foggy and dirty.
Operating a haze meter correctly can be a challenge in unskilled hands. For starters, the operator must make sure the meter is properly calibrated before use. Collecting results without knowing that the starting or control point is properly adjusted before starting is a waste of time. Next, the operator must make sure that the conditions being tested – including angle and hue – match up correctly with previous tests so that any comparative analysis is an apples-to-apples comparison. Otherwise, there is no way to know if the new sample being tested is an improvement upon the previous iteration. In other words, haze testing is best left to technicians and engineers that understand not just the testing process, but the manufacturing process as well.
Haze meters are integral to the paint production process as they ensure that the unseen qualities in paint remain exactly that: unseen. Proper dispersion and mixture of additives, resin, and pigments into solvents is the only way to ensure that the paint is free of murkiness and looks great after curing for a long, long time. Click here to learn more about gloss, clarity, and getting the best radiance possible from the paint you use!