Federal Standard 595

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The Federal Standard color system, officially the Federal Standard 595C - Colors Used in Government Procurement, is a United States Federal Standard for colors, issued by the General Services Administration. The standard is also widely referred to as FED-STD-595, FS-595, or similar names, with the version letter appended.


NOTICE OF FED-STD-595C CANCELLATION NOTICE 2 February 14, 2017. Superseded by SAE-AMS-STD-595.

This document, and all new SAE-AMS-STD-595 color standard products such as fan decks and color chipsets, may be obtained from www.sae.org, or SAE International Customer Service, 400 Commonwealth Drive, Warrendale PA 15096. FED-STD-595C, dated 16 January 2008, and all associated slash sheets, are hereby canceled. SAE-AMS-STD-595, “Colors Used in Government Procurement,” supersedes FED-STD-595C.

Federal Standard 595 is the color description and communication system developed in 1956 by the United States government. Its origins reach back to World War II when a problem of providing exact color specifications to military equipment subcontractors in different parts of the world became a matter of urgency.

Similarly to other color standards of the pre-digital era, such as RAL colour standard or British Standard 4800, Federal Standard 595 is a color collection rather than a color space. The standard is built upon a set of color shades where a unique reference number is assigned to each color. This collection is then printed on sample color chips and provided to interested parties. In contrast, modern color systems such as the Natural Color System (NCS) are built upon a color space paradigm, providing for much more flexibility and wider range of applications.

Each color in the Federal Standard 595 range is identified by a five-digit code. The colors in the standard have no official names, just numbers.

The initial standard FED-STD-595 issued in March 1956 contained 358 colors. Revision A issued in January 1968 counted 437 colors. Current Revision B Change 1 from January 1994 counts 611 colors.

Federal Standard 595C was published January 16, 2008. No previous colors were removed. Thirty-nine new colors were added for a total of 650 colors. On July 31, 2008 595C Change Order 1 was published, changing the numbers of eight of colors added in revision C. The revision C master reference list of colors provides all available reference information for these colors, including tristimulus values, pigments and 60° gloss level and color name as applicable. As before, all color matching must still be done via color reference chips.

595C Change Order 1 made a fundamental mistake by changing the designation number of existing, published colors. This can lead to considerable confusion when a color is called out by contract. Previous revisions had only added colors, so a color chosen out of 595A would still be accurate if the producer used a 595B fan deck in any of its revisions.

Many prime contractors, such as L3, require the Federal Standard 595 paint chips used for inspection purposes be replaced every two years.[1]

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