Welcome to PPG LINQ™, the new end-to-end digital ecosystem for the refinish industry.
Since mass car production began and cars needed to be repaired and re-painted, the biggest challenge for the car repairer has been to provide a good invisible colour match. As time has progressed it has become even more important to also get this colour choice “right first time” as shops cannot afford to be doing jobs twice.
50 years ago, when the colour range was very different from today, the common way to manage this was to use skilled and experienced colour matchers. In the days when the majority of colours were solid colors, many painters developed tinting skills and it was common for them to pick a color that was “close” and “tint it on.” Depending on the skills and the eye for colour that the painters had, this was a successful method.
But as the coluor range got more complicated, starting with the introduction of metallic colours and moving through the peal period into the era of today with many different effect pigments, the skills needed to colour match or tint a colour have risen to a point that this is rarely attempted.
To help shops identify the right colour without needing to tint, paint companies developed their colour box offerings. The colour boxes initially offered only an indication of the colour that could be achieved, but slowly developed into some intricate tools. In the case of PPG, the renowned “Waterborne Variant Decks” which supported the ENVIROBASE® HP and AQUABASE® Plus brands became world leading, as they were truly sprayed colour chips using the original paint products – before then colour boxes were printed using inks which always gave some colour variation or inaccuracy.
Colour boxes were always popular with painters, especially when their accuracy improved, as they allowed the painters to assess the colour with their own eyes, and judge how good a match was before they started painting. But the downside of a colour box is that they are difficult to keep up to date. If a paint company matched a new colour, it could easily take between 12-18 months to get a chip into the colour box, as the chips first had to be produced and then slotted into a “colour box” update, which normally happened around 2 times per year. Updating the boxes was also not the favored job of painters in the shops themselves, and a common occurrence was to see a box with pile of un-filed updates sitting on top of the box. This meant colour boxes could easily become “out of date.”
Thereupon the phase of the Spectrophotometer started. Initially, these tools would get the painter “close” to the right colour but could not guarantee the ultimate quality of the match. This meant in most cases the recommendation was to blend all colours to ensure shops achieved their Right First-Time goals. Some Spectro tools developed some form of visualization, showing an on-screen representation of the colour, but these were not really aimed at being accurate representations, rather indications.
PPG is now bringing the next era in Colour Identification to Bodyshops. We have studied this process, talked, and listened to our customers, and with the Launch of the PPG LINQ Pro system we can now offer the first colour identification tool that can create a “Virtual Colour Chip” accurately that truly matches the real paint in high definition, that you can compare to an onscreen representation of the colour on the car you need to repair. So how does it work?
Key components of the PPG LINQ™ system are the PPG VISUALIZID™ advanced, unique 3D visualisation software and the PPG DIGIMATCH™ digital colour camera. These tools are used together to digitise the colour-matching process, significantly improving speed and efficiency, and reducing product wastage for more sustainable bodyshop operations.
The PPG DigiMatch multi-angle digital colour camera is an ergonomic, lightweight device that can be operated with one hand. It features six imaging angles and six reflectance angles to capture vehicle colour and texture information quickly and accurately. But crucially, it also contains a powerful camera that allows it to take an image of the car colour to be repaired. It can then recreate this photo image on screen to give the painter an accurate impression of his target colour.
Then the magic starts. The PPG VisualizID software, which has been painstakingly matched up to all of the tinter ranges in the PPG WB Basecoat systems and has been used to read the actual colours achieved through every one of our 70,000 variants, will compare the target colour, with the best recorded matches, and will then recreate on screen an image of the colour that each selected variant will give.
The system will pick several options that it sees as a close match. The painter can then pull up and image of each variant and compare it to the target colour. He can view the virtual colour chips from all angles, in all different types of light. He can zoom in to see if the flake effect matches too. He can even look at it under spotlights and sunlight, with and without clearcoat. This allows the painter to make a very accurate assessment of the colour, before he has even mixed it.
“It is the dream we have always had” says Juan Navarro Marketing Director for PPG EMEA. “we can accurately show painters what their chosen colour will look like compared to the car. The painter can then make his choice of how to proceed. And unlike the old colour boxes, this virtual tool can provide images of all 70,000 matches we have, and when we add a new match, the system automatically updates itself. So the day after we complete a match to a new colour, the tool will be able to show this colour. This is truly the future of colour matching today”
“Many modern bodyshops are turning to digital solutions to meet their productivity, efficiency and sustainability goals,” said Jerome Zamblera, PPG vice president, EMEA, Automotive Refinish. “Customer insight and feedback played a big part in the development of this system, so our customers can be confident that the PPG LINQ system will allow them to meet these goals by increasing the speed and efficiency of their operations.”
PPG LINQ will work alongside the award-winning MOONWALK®, offering the bodyshop the best colour identification system and the most accurate colour mixing system – thus eliminating the two main areas where errors could be made and thus truly delivering a higher chance of Right First Time colour – the ultimate aim of bodyshops through the ages.
The launch of the PPG LINQ platform, PPG VisualizID software and the PPG DigiMatch camera follows the release of the PPG’s award-winning automated paint mixing system MoonWalk in 2019. Additional components of the PPG LINQ digital ecosystem will be introduced throughout 2023.