RAL is a colour matching system utilized in Europe that 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 refers to the RAL Classic system, mainly used for varnish and powder coating but nowadays there are reference panels for plastics as well. Approved RAL goods 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 use within reference to choose an appropriate colour for painting using powder coat colours although other tools such as 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 on the phone. However, they are certainly not suitable for use within the workshop, especially should they be pinned to the wall. This is when RAL Colour Swabs and Control Cards are available in.
A RAL Shade Swab is keen on colour coated plastic with every fan detailing another RAL Tone & Colour. This fan is perfect for use in the task shop along with off site and also at a customers factory when discussing important powder coating decisions. The RAL Shade Swab can be placed upon an item to provide a more accurate representation from the intended finished powder coating in my opinion put on the metal component. Most Swabs have several hundred colours to them offering an entire range of colours, shades and tones available as powder coated finishes, and the RAL Swab will assist you to determine the preffered selection of powder coated finish.
However, the limitations in the RAL Shade & Colour Swabs are nearly as tight as those of the RAL Tone Charts pinned towards the office wall. The little Swab tabs which can be generally only 100mm long and 40mm wide usually do not provide an exact colour match, just a close representation. Here is where a RAL Colour Control Card is necessary.
The Colour Control Card is a large specially prepared colour coated card prepared through the paint manufacturer. powder coating Colour Cards provide a perfect match from the manufacturers paint and will be kept as reference for later colour matching exercises. RAL Coating Cards are suitable for permanent colour references for technical documentation in addition to 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 are available in the K7 format which shows 5 colours per fan finger, and as such is really a cheaper fan type along with the K5 that has more fan fingers every one of which can be focused on a single RAL tone, shade or colour. Ral Colour Charts are for sale to purchase within 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 under the name of “RAL 840”. Prior to that date manufacturers and customers needed to exchange samples to explain a tint, whereas from that point on they could depend 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 included in the collection, it was revised again in 1961 and changed to “RAL 840-HR”, which contains 210 colours and is used for this day. Within the 1960s the colours were given supplemental names to avoid confusion in the case of transposed digits.
As “RAL 840-HR” covered only matte paint the 1980s saw the invention of “RAL 841-GL” for glossy surfaces, restricted to 193 colours. A main criterion for colours within the RAL Classic collection is to be of “paramount interest”. Therefore, a lot of the colours in it are employed on warning and traffic signs or are committed to government agencies and public services (for instance: RAL 1004 – Swiss Postal Service, RAL 1021 – Austrian Postal Service, RAL 1032 – German Postal Service).