How Crucial is CMF Design (Color, Material, Finish) in Product Design?

How Crucial is CMF Design (Color, Material, Finish) in Product Design?


In the dynamic world of product design, the significance of CMF (Color, Material, Finish) is often a game-changer in determining a product’s success. This blog post delves into the realm of CMF design and explores its critical role in shaping user experience, brand identity, and market competitiveness.





CMF design



1. Color

In the intricate world of CMF (Color, Material, Finish) design, color stands as a crucial component in defining the success and appeal of a product. This blog post explores the depth of color’s influence in product design, emphasizing its strategic importance far beyond aesthetic appeal.


Particularly in design, the most crucial element, color, is not merely seen as a simple color in CMF. CMF discusses color in the combination of color, material, and finish. For instance, red is not just red when it meets a rough surface. There are countless shades of red, but when combined with the aspects of finish and material, we begin a vast discussion about color. This is the fundamental principle of CMF that I want to convey. Let’s explore this together.


CMF color


The red we commonly see is transformed when considered with finish and material. It’s not just red as most people would describe it, but rather a red that incorporates aspects of finish and texture. This is the core point of what I’m discussing.





CMF specialized archives, libraries, and companies have started emerging globally. They research colors and select materials that best complement those colors, offering consulting services. Just as ‘C’ for color comes first in CMF, color can be considered the most crucial element in the topic we are discussing now.



There is the renowned Pantone color company, known for its extensive work with color. Let’s take a closer look at Pantone.



Pantone LLC, a subsidiary of X-Rite, is a world-renowned authority on color and a provider of color systems and leading technology for the selection and accurate communication of color across various industries.


History and Background

Founded in the 1950s by Lawrence Herbert, Pantone initially started as a commercial printing company.

Herbert developed the Pantone Matching System (PMS), a proprietary color space used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, though sometimes in the manufacture of colored paint, fabric, and plastics.


Pantone Matching System (PMS)

PMS is famous for its color reproduction standardization.

It allows designers, manufacturers, and clients to refer to specific Pantone colors for product development, ensuring color consistency and accuracy.


Applications and Industries

Pantone colors are used in graphic design, fashion design, product design, printing, and manufacturing.

The company also collaborates with various industries to produce Pantone-themed products.


Pantone Color of the Year

Each year, Pantone announces a “Color of the Year” which influences product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries.

The selection is based on trend analysis and reflects what Pantone views as an expression of mood and attitude on a global scale.


Digital Solutions

Pantone offers digital tools for color selection and palette creation, such as Pantone Connect.

These tools assist designers and manufacturers in integrating Pantone colors into digital design processes.


Educational Role

Pantone plays a significant role in color education, offering insights and knowledge about how colors influence design and consumer behavior.

They provide resources for understanding color psychology and trends.




2. Meterial


We’re not merely talking about the properties of materials in isolation, but rather about materials within the context of CMF. This means considering materials that complement both color and finish. The world is filled with an incredibly diverse array of materials. Designers select these materials for their designs, and realistically, they can only design within the scope of what they know. Therefore, it’s crucial for them to explore and physically interact with a wide range of materials through various archives to broaden their design possibilities.


Ketshot capture



KeyShot is a widely recognized and powerful 3D rendering and animation software, known for its speed, ease of use, and high-quality outputs. It’s particularly favored in the product design and marketing fields.

Wide Range of Materials and Textures: Comes with an extensive library of pre-set materials, textures, and environments that can be easily applied to 3D models.



In reality, the texture experienced through computer graphics, the texture felt by touch, and the properties of the material itself are different. It’s a clear fact that designs informed by real-life experiences have a higher likelihood of being successful. No matter how much we search through KeyShot or V-Ray, we are inevitably limited to what’s on the screen.




Let’s design based on direct experience and knowledge gained from it. In modern society, CMF has become an essential and a necessity for designers.




3. Finish

‘Finish’ is not just about the surface. It encompasses the visual and tactile sensations, as well as the emotions it evokes. Finish is one of the final stages of processing through color and material, and it’s also the most critical outcome. It’s what consumers or users ultimately see and feel.





There are truly a multitude of materials available, each possessing its own unique set of finishing techniques.



Metal Finishing


metal finish



Metal finishing processes are various methods used to enhance the appearance, durability, and functionality of metal products. These techniques modify the surface properties of metals or add protective layers to extend product life and enhance aesthetic appeal.


1. Polishing

A process to make the metal surface smooth and shiny.
It involves physically rubbing the metal surface with an abrasive to remove impurities and produce a glossy finish.
Commonly used on stainless steel, aluminum, and copper.

2. Plating

The process of coating a metal surface with a thin layer of another metal.
Includes electroplating (galvanic) and electroless plating (chemical), used to improve corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and conductivity.
Gold, silver, nickel, chrome, and zinc plating are commonly used.


3. Anodizing

Mainly used for aluminum, this process creates an oxide layer on the metal surface to increase corrosion and wear resistance.
It’s an electrochemical process that can also incorporate colors.
Widely applied to aluminum alloy products.

4. Heat Treatment

Involves heating and cooling metal to alter its physical and chemical properties.
Used to improve hardness, strength, and durability, and is often used with metals like steel.


5. Powder Coating

A method where powder paint is electrostatically applied to the metal surface and then cured with heat.
Offers excellent weather and wear resistance, available in various colors and finishes.


6. Brushing

Creates fine lines on the metal surface to provide a matte texture.
Commonly seen on stainless steel and aluminum, offering a modern and sophisticated appearance.



Plastic Finishing



plastic finish


Plastic finishing processes encompass various methods used to improve the appearance, durability, and functionality of plastic products. These techniques play a vital role in enhancing the aesthetic appeal and in increasing resistance to specific environmental conditions. Here is an overview of some key plastic finishing techniques:


1. Paint Coating

Utilized for applying color or protective coatings on plastic surfaces.

Enhances waterproofing, chemical resistance, and UV resistance.

Commonly used in automotive parts, home appliances, toys, etc.


2. Printing

Involves applying graphics or text onto plastic surfaces using methods such as direct printing, screen printing, and pad printing.

Effective for custom designs and branding purposes.


3. Heat Transfer & Laminating

A process of attaching decorative or protective films to plastic surfaces using heat.

Improves durability and wear resistance, offering high-quality finishes.


4. Vacuum Metalizing

Involves vaporizing metal and depositing it as a thin layer on plastic surfaces.

Creates a metallic sheen, giving plastics a luxurious appearance.

Used in decorative packaging, lighting fixtures, automotive interiors, etc.


5. Sanding & Polishing

Used to smooth out and refine the surface of plastics.

Improves the surface quality and prepares it for subsequent painting processes.


6. Physical & Chemical Surface Treatment

Aims to activate the surface, enhance adhesion, and change the chemical properties of the surface.

Plasma treatment, for instance, is used to increase the adhesion properties of plastic surfaces.



Glass Finishing



Glass finishing techniques are used to improve the aesthetic characteristics, durability, and functionality of glass products. These methods transform the surface of glass or add special coatings to enhance product performance. Below are descriptions of key glass material finishing techniques:


1. Sanding and Polishing

Processes used to make glass surfaces smooth and glossy.

Sanding smoothens the rough surfaces, while polishing provides a fine finish and shine.


2. Etching

Uses chemical or physical methods to engrave fine patterns or designs on the glass surface.

Acid solutions or sandblasting can create a matte effect on the glass.


3. Coating

Various coatings are applied to provide anti-reflective, UV-blocking, and heat-resistant properties.

Mirror coatings, tinting, and low-reflection coatings can be used on glass.


4. Tempering

A process that strengthens the glass to increase its resistance to impact.

The glass is heated and then rapidly cooled to create internal tension.


5. Laminating

Involves inserting a polymer layer between two or more layers of glass to enhance safety and durability.

Helps to prevent glass shards from scattering when broken.


6. Thermal Curving

Heats the glass to mold it into specific shapes or curves.

Used in architecture and automotive industries to create curved glass products.



We’ve spent time exploring CMF design. Next, I’ll create an opportunity to post focusing on examples where CMF has been applied.






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