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Color Analysis of Apparently Achromatic Automotive Paints by Visible Microspectrophotometry


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Christopher R. Bommarito, M.S.
Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division
7320 N. Canal Road
Lansing, MI 48913


ABSTRACT: Chromatic secondary pigments are utilized in achromatic automotive paints to create unique paint systems. These pigments may not be observable in reflected light; however, utilizing visible microspectrophotometry (MSP) discriminating data may be gathered. This study analyzed 160 apparently achromatic automotive paints via this technique for spectral evidence of secondary pigmentation. These results were compared with visual observations made via polarizing light microscopy. Positive spectral results were attained in approximately 25% of the black and gray/silver topcoat sample sets, whereas the white topcoat and gray undercoat set yielded no probative spectral data. The black sample set did yield several samples that produced spectral evidence of pigmentation when no visual chromatic data was observed. The results of this study suggest that paint analysis schemes should incorporate visible MSP for apparently achromatic black and gray/silver paint samples.