Ireland's Publication for the refinishing & associated Industries

Two decades of electronic colour measurement

Twenty years ago Spies Hecker offered bodyshops its first colour spectrophotometer. Today, the brand uses the practical experience gained since then to continually support its customers in their day-to-day work.


“From the first spectrophotometer, our focus was on simplifying and speeding up the search for formulas with a view to improving bodyshop efficiency,” says Anthony Cashel, Marketing Manager for Axalta Coating Systems in the UK and Ireland. “Another benefit of using spectrophotometers – even 20 years ago – was their reliability. The first generation Spies Hecker ColorDialog spectrophotometer, a cutting-edge piece of equipment, allowed bodyshops to use the most up-to-date technology.”

To date, around 5,000 Spies Hecker ColorDialog spectrophotometers are in use throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and the figure for Spies Hecker in Germany alone is over 1,400 devices. The most recent generation device, ColorDialog Delta-Scan, is now able to read paint effects and will eventually be connected to the new web-based formula software, Phoenix.

For Spies Hecker customers, the spectrophotometer era began in 1995 with the ColorDialog MA 64. This was a five-angle measuring device that worked in conjunction with special Color Unix software.

It soon became apparent that only three readings were necessary to determine any given colour. In 2003, the three-angle spectrophotometer ColorDialog MA 90BR was introduced.

“When connected with the matching software, it offered refinishers the option to correct colour formulas automatically,” Cashel recalls.

The constantly growing numbers of variants and effect colours demanded further device developments. In 2005, Spies Hecker launched the ColorDialog, which was equipped with the latest LED optical technology. This spectrophotometer could be connected to the Spies Hecker CRplus formula software.

The brand’s very latest colour spectrophotometer, ColorDialog Delta-Scan, has been available in the UK since 2014. It measures colours and effects using innovative photo optics in a single work step. Using the CRplus formula software and the new web-based colour software, Phoenix, the readings can be quickly matched to the corresponding formulas.

“The touch screen makes ColorDialog Delta-Scan even more user-friendly than its predecessors,” Cashel explains. Once readings have been taken, the mixing formula is calculated on the computer using, for example, the PC desktop system ColorTint HD. Refinishers can then transfer the formula to the digital scales for mixing.

Cashel concludes: “More precise, faster colour measurements and greater connection to the mixing room: twenty years ago, Spies Hecker paved the way for advanced colour management with ColorDialog. Today, the refinish brand continues to drive the development of these support tools.”

The ColorDialog and ColorDialog Delta-Scan spectrophotometers are available to purchase from, where more information is also available.

The history of Spies Hecker spectrophotometers
1995: Launch of Five-angled spectrophotometer ColorDialog MA 64
1998: Launch of ColorDialog MA 64 using Windows
2003: Introduction of the Three-angled spectrophotometer ColorDialog MA 90BR
2005: Switch to the three-angled spectrophotometer ColorDialog with CRplus software
2013: Launch of colour spectrophotometer ColorDialog Delta-Scan with effect readings