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Lab Dips in Garment Manufacturing

Sample swatches to match the colors before the production begins

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A lab dip is a swatch of fabric test dyed to hit a color standard. There are different matching systems followed in Labs such as Tube light matching, Sunlight matching, Ultra Violet matching, Sodium light matching etc.

What are Lab Dips?

A lab dip is a swatch of fabric test dyed to hit a color standard.  Several lab dips may be submitted for feedback until the standard is achieved and the lab dip is approved. Lab dips are reviewed in a “lightbox”. A lightbox is a machine where the interior is painted a neutral colorless grey (as to not skew the color of the dip) and has several options of light under which you can see your dip.

Usually, a company will select one light source (for example “daylight”) as it’s standard so both factory and home office see the lab dips under the same source. The person responsible for reviewing lab dips will then give comments such as “too dark, too red, make lighter, greener” until the standard is achieved.

There is also now a machine used to read lab dips called a “spectrometer” which will give the same feedback. As not everyone sees color as well as the next,  a machine can take out human error.

There are different matching systems followed in Labs. They are

  • Tube light matching.
  • Sunlight matching.
  • Ultra Violet matching.
  • Sodium light matching (showroom).

Each of these above matchings will give different results. For example, if a lab dip matches to the original in tube light, it will differ in sunlight. So the lab dips are to be made according to the buyer’s matching system.

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Different buyers follow different matching. Hence before proceeding lab dips, merchandiser should be aware of the buyer’s matching system. Accordingly, he should arrange to make lab dips.

Who is responsible for dealing with Lab Dips?

It is the merchandiser’s responsibility to get the Lab dips from the processing mill and to get approval from the buyer.


Also, he must be sure of making the lab dips in the actual production fabrics. It is better to make lab dips in more than 3 closer shades. (Sometimes, the processing factory will make lab dips in 2 shades and will make them into 4 bits. If we send the same to the buyer and if the buyer finds out this, he will think that he had been cheated purposely by the merchandiser. Our reliability will get questioned here).

Before sending the lab dips to the buyer, the merchandiser should verify whether they are closer to the required shade. And he should send them to the buyer only if he is confident that they will get approved. If he sends them with a doubt and if they are not approved, he will have to make them again. By this way, at least 1 week time will be wasted; courier expenditure will be wasted unnecessarily. To adjust this wasted time, we will have to urge the production which may lead to a quality problem. So if he is not satisfied with the lab dips, he should arrange for the revised lab dips from the processing mill immediately.

When sending the lab dips to the buyer, he has to take some extra care. The lab dip fabric bits are to be ironed and cut into a clean shape. They should be attached to the shade card in an attractive presentation. This will give a pleasant mood to the buyer when he verifies the shades. (Here we should understand the psychological effect in this regard. If we see lab dips in the morning, we may think they are not suitable. If we see the same in the evening or the next day, we may think they are closer. Our presentation of lab dips will help to get quick approvals. This is not cheating; just a tip).

While making lab dips, the lab in processing mill will have the recipes noted. They will give different reference numbers to different lab dips. Accordingly, each lab dip will have a different reference number. When sending lab dips to the buyer, the merchandiser should keep one set of counter lab dips with reference numbers. He must be sure that the reference numbers mentioned to buyer’s set are the same in his counter set also. It is advised to follow the same reference numbers by everybody – processing mill, merchandiser, and buyer. This will help to avoid confusion when processing.

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    Which deficulties face in synthetic lab dip development stage

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