RAL is a colour matching system found in Europe which is created and administrated by the German RAL gGmbH (RAL non-profit LLC), which is a subsidiary of the German RAL Institute. In colloquial speech RAL means the RAL Classic system, mainly employed for varnish and powder coating but nowadays there are reference panels for plastics also. Approved RAL products are supplied with a hologram as of early 2013 to make unauthorised versions challenging to produce. Imitations may show different hue and colour when observed under various light sources.
RAL Colour Charts are best for utilization in reference to choose a suitable colour for painting using powder coat colours although other tools including RAL Colour Swabs and RAL Colour Control Cards are often more useful.
A RAL Colour Chart is great for hanging on the wall for general reference and then for use when discussing power coating colours on the phone. However, they are certainly not perfect for use in the workshop, especially should they be pinned to the wall. Here is where RAL Colour Swabs and Control Cards come in.
A RAL Shade Swab is a fan of colour coated plastic with every fan detailing another RAL Tone & Colour. This fan is ideal for utilization in the work shop as well as off site and at a customers factory when discussing important powder coating decisions. The RAL Shade Swab can be placed on an item to give a more accurate representation from the intended finished powder coating in my opinion put on the metal component. Most Swabs have several hundred colours on them offering a total range of colours, shades and tones available as powder coated finishes, as well as the RAL Swab will assist you to determine the preffered selection of powder coated finish.
However, the limitations from the RAL Shade & Colour Swabs are almost as tight as those of the RAL Tone Charts pinned for the office wall. The tiny Swab tabs which are generally only 100mm long and 40mm wide tend not to present an exact colour match, only a close representation. Here is where a RAL Colour Control Card is necessary.
The Color Control Card is a large specially prepared colour coated card prepared through the paint manufacturer. powder coating Colour Cards give you a ideal match from the manufacturers paint and will be kept as reference for later colour matching exercises. RAL Coating Cards are compatible with permanent colour references for technical documentation as well as legal contract referencing. Whilst all colours might vary slightly due to changing powder coating environments and respective nacmlk regimes, the Ral Shade Card is regarded as the definitive reference for paint matching against RAL Powder Coating Colours.
Ral Colour Swabs can be found in the K7 format which shows 5 colours per fan finger, and as such is actually a cheaper fan type and also the K5 which includes more fan fingers all of which is dedicated to just one RAL tone, shade or colour. Ral Colour Charts are accessible for purchase on the C&S Processing website at great rates.
In 1927 the German Reichs-Ausschuß für Lieferbedingungen und Gütesicherung (Imperial Commission for Delivery Terms and Quality Assurance) invented a selection of forty colours underneath the name of “RAL 840”. Prior to that date manufacturers and customers needed to exchange samples to describe a tint, whereas from that point on they could count on numbers.
Within the 1930s the numbers were changed uniformly to four digits as well as the collection was renamed to “RAL 840 R” (R for revised). With tints constantly added to the collection, it was revised again in 1961 and changed to “RAL 840-HR”, which includes 210 colours and it is in use to this day. Within the 1960s the colours were given supplemental names to prevent confusion in the event of transposed digits.
As “RAL 840-HR” covered only matte paint the 1980s saw the invention of “RAL 841-GL” for glossy surfaces, confined to 193 colours. A primary criterion for colours in the RAL Classic collection is going to be of “paramount interest”. Therefore, most of the colours in it are employed on warning and traffic signs or are committed to government departments and public services (for instance: RAL 1004 – Swiss Postal Service, RAL 1021 – Austrian Postal Service, RAL 1032 – German Postal Service).