One may be surprised to know that white, considered the universal symbol of purity is the hardest colour to create.

The reason being, there isn’t one shade of white. Katie Smithson, Colour and Design Team Leader at Interpon Powder Coatings explains that there are hundreds of shades including blue-white, yellow-white and grey-white, depending on the undertones. Since the human eye is very sensitive to different shades of white, the tolerances are critical, making colour-matching very difficult.

Colour is created by adding combinations of chemical pigments to the base formulation at the start of the powder manufacturing process. A computer works out the combinations and concentrations of different pigments needed to produce specific colours. According to Smithson, the computer can predict colours to a high degree of accuracy over a very wide range. For instance, when matching a new colour, one can choose the nearest approximation and then fine-tune.

Colours tailor-made for customers are based on samples brought by them and may vary from liquid paint samples to coloured paper and even to bits of bicycle.

Some colours take longer than others to match. Very strong colours such as bright yellows and reds are difficult because the pigments are organic and break down under UV light, requiring the team to find a way of achieving the colour without losing performance characteristics such as durability and temperature resistance.

Special effects paints such as metallic or sparkly are also challenging as they’re not solid colours, causing the appearance to change dramatically depending on the angle from which they are being viewed.