RAL is a colour matching system found in Europe which is created and administrated by the German RAL gGmbH[1] (RAL non-profit LLC), which is a subsidiary of the German RAL Institute. In colloquial speech RAL means the RAL Classic system, mainly utilized for varnish and powder coating but nowadays you will find reference panels for plastics also. Approved RAL items are supplied with a hologram as of early 2013 to make unauthorised versions difficult 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 an appropriate colour for painting using powder coat colours although other tools including RAL Colour Swabs and RAL Colour Control Cards tend to be more useful.

A RAL Colour Chart is great for hanging on the wall for general reference and for use when discussing power coating colours over the telephone. However, they are not suitable for use within the workshop, especially if they are pinned to the wall. Here is where RAL Colour Swabs and Control Cards can be found in.

A RAL Shade Swab is keen on colour coated plastic with each fan detailing another RAL Tone & Colour. This fan is ideal for use within the job shop in addition to off site and also 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 for me applied to the metal component. Most Swabs have several hundred colours to them offering an entire selection of colours, shades and tones available as powder coated finishes, and the RAL Swab will help to determine the preffered choice of powder coated finish.

However, the limitations in the RAL Shade & Colour Swabs are almost as tight as the ones from the RAL Tone Charts pinned to the office wall. The small Swab tabs which are generally only 100mm long and 40mm wide usually do not provide an exact colour match, only a close representation. This is where a RAL Colour Control Card comes into play.

The Colour Control Card is actually a large specially prepared colour coated card prepared by the paint manufacturer. powder coating Colour Cards give you a perfect match from the manufacturers paint and may be kept as reference for later colour matching exercises. RAL Coating Cards are suitable for permanent colour references for technical documentation as well as legal contract referencing. Whilst all colours might vary slightly because of changing powder coating environments and respective nacmlk regimes, the Ral Shade Card is the definitive reference for paint matching against RAL Powder Coating Colours.

Ral Colour Swabs can be purchased in the K7 format which shows 5 colours per fan finger, and as such is actually a cheaper fan type as well as the K5 that has more fan fingers every one of that is focused on just one RAL tone, shade or colour. Ral Colour Charts are available for purchase over 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 collection of forty colours underneath the name of “RAL 840”. Before that date manufacturers and customers needed to exchange samples to illustrate a tint, whereas from that point on they might rely on numbers.

In 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 had been revised again in 1961 and changed to “RAL 840-HR”, which consists of 210 colours and is being used for this day. Inside the 1960s the colours were given supplemental names to avoid confusion in case of transposed digits.

As “RAL 840-HR” covered only matte paint the 1980s saw the invention of “RAL 841-GL” for glossy surfaces, limited to 193 colours. A main criterion for colours in the RAL Classic collection is to be of “paramount interest”. Therefore, a lot of the colours inside it are employed on warning and traffic signs or are focused on government agencies and public services (as an example: RAL 1004 – Swiss Postal Service, RAL 1021 – Austrian Postal Service, RAL 1032 – German Postal Service).

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