Preforms are injection molded and then stretch blow molded or inflated into the shape of plastic bottles, jars and other containers used to package beverages, detergents, condiments, and many other consumable products. Managing the color of these preforms is the first step in ensuring a consistent color quality of the final products they become. For over 60 years, major brand owners around the world have relied on the knowledge and expertise of HunterLab to help them maintain color consistency throughout their supply chain.


Preforms come in a multitude of sizes, shapes, and colors. They can range from opaque to translucent or transparent, so require different measurement techniques depending on the sample type.


Opaque Preforms are impenetrable by light and are best measured using a Diffuse d/8 Sphere reflectance instrument.


Translucent Preforms allow light to pass through, but only diffusely, so that objects on the other side cannot be clearly distinguished. Both reflective and transmittance measurement modes may work well depending on the translucency of the sample.  As a rule of thumb,


  • – If at the path length that your customer will view the sample, you can see slight details of your thumb or finger through the preform, then transmittance is the preferred measurement method.
  • – If you cannot see slight details, then reflectance is preferred.

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Path length is defined as the thickness of the sample from where the light enters to where it exits the sample.


Transparent Preforms allow light to pass through with little or no interruption or distortion so that objects on the other side can be clearly seen. These preforms can only be measured using transmission instrumentation.


Additionally, certain metrics and indices such as CIE L*a*b*  Color, Yellowness, Whiteness, or Haze require the use of specific geometries and specific measurement modes. For the proper instrument selection for your application please refer to the following chart: HunterLab Solutions Chart.

Many HunterLab spectrophotometers have the versatility to accommodate most applications of color measurement, however, based on 60+ years of experience and a thorough understanding of our customers’ needs and product use, these particular instruments are most suited for this industry application:


UltraScan VIS (Diffuse d/8° sphere Geometry, Reflectance, and Transmittance, 360-780 nm)

30% of our customers select this instrument for its extended wavelength measurement and its ability to measure both reflected and transmitted color of samples that are transparent to opaque.

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NEW Vista spectrophotometer with the unique ability to capture both visible range transmission color and haze with a single measurement is a replacement for ColorQuest XT.

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