BYK Additives & Instruments

Who has the oldest BYK-Gardner gloss meter still in use?
Winners of 2017 Gloss Contest

This year in June BYK-Gardner conducted a global contest "Who has the oldest BYK-Gardner gloss meter still in use". We are happy to announce the two winners with the oldest gloss meters:

  • Brohl-Chemie GmbH in Andernach, Germany - manufacturer of pigment pastes and master batches for SMC (Sheet moulding compounds), BMC (Bulk moulding compounds) and pultrusion applications.
    A BYK-Mallinckrodt Pocket-Gloss 60° manufactured in 1981 is still in active use. Mr. Marvin Goddon responsible for Technical Service: "We are very happy about the robust and long term reliable quality of the BYK Pocket-Gloss. It is mainly used for comparative studies in the field of weathering tests”. 
  • Day-Glo Color Corp. in Cleveland, Ohio - manufacturer of daylight fluorescent pigments.
    Amazingly, a real "dinosaur" of gloss meter made in 1962 is still in use when relative readings need to be taken for internal projects where data does not need to be communicated outside.
    As repair or re-certification is no longer possible, the absolute values are not 100% inline with their micro-TRI-gloss used in production QC.

BYK-Gardner thanks all participants and congratulations to the winners!

A journey into the history of gloss measurement

In the early days of gloss evaluation, often visual tools such as fan deck cards in various gloss shades were used for comparison purposes. One of the main shortcomings of visual evaluation are the influence of illumination and observer. First instrumental studies used boxes, which were placed onto the test surface with a fixed lamp and defined observing direction, but still using the human eye as inspector. 

One of the earliest referred methods for gloss evaluation is the so-called "Glarimeter", published by R. S. Ingersoll in 1914, developed to measure the glare of paper. The instrument was based on different polarization of specular and diffusely reflected light, and had the incident and viewing angles fixed at 57.5° based on Fresnel law. Further studies showed that the reflection behavior is dependent on the source and observing angles. Thus, A. H. Pfund developed a variable angle "Glossimeter" (patented in 1932) which allowed changing the illumination angle and maintaining viewing to the same but opposite angle.

CC BY-SA 3.0  Reproduced under the Creative Commons license

The first photoelectric gloss meter was designed by Richard S. Hunter around 1935, which became later known as the Gardner Glossmeter. While the early investigations employed a 45° specular angle, later studies led to a 60° geometry with better correlation to visual rankings. In 1939, the American Society for Testing and Materials adopted the 60° method in ASTM D523. The gloss scaling was defined as the ratio of the specular reflection of the sample to that of a polished black glass standard. Alternate geometries for high-gloss finishes (20°) and matt surfaces (85°) were incorporated 1951 into ASTM D523.

The company Gardner Laboratories in Bethesda, Maryland (USA) was one of the first offering gloss meters commercially to the paint, plastic and paper industries. While the first units were analog needle instruments, digital displays appeared in the early seventies. 


In Europe since the early sixties BYK-Chemie (former BYK-Mallinckrodt), supplier of additives for paints and plastics, also has had an instrument group offering gloss meters and physical test instruments. In the seventies, laboratory instruments like the BYK Multi-Gloss allowed connecting various measuring heads via fiber-optic. In the following years, increasing technological progress in electronics and optics resulted in smaller, portable instruments: Glossgard and Pocket Gloss.  

In 1989, BYK-Chemie acquired Gardner Laboratory and bundled the instrument activities in the BYK-Gardner division, today well known for innovative color, appearance and physical test solutions. The next breakthrough in gloss measurement occurred with the micro-gloss introduction in 1988. It became the industry standard and a real "bestseller" in the following years. The enormous size reduction and the high integration rate of microelectronics played a key role to offer a truly portable gloss meter for use at the production line and in the field. Additionally, for the first time automatic calibration in a protective standard holder without need of manual adjustment of a calibration knob made the micro-gloss unique in the industry.

In the meantime, the 4th generation of the micro-gloss family is on the market. The focus of the latest developments is on measurement reliability to be independent on operator handling and temperature changes. The new micro-gloss is using cutting edge technologies (e.g. LED light source) combined with intelligent and automated production processes to guarantee highly repeatable and reproducible results – unsurpassed in the industry. Even the automatic calibration was optimized with a self-diagnosis to prevent a faulty calibration. Finally, transferring the gloss results to the software smart-chart moves gloss documentation and analysis into today’s digital world.