Various container shapes that can be printed using Multi Jet Printer technology.
Where does 3D printing offer the most value for customers?
Palovich: 3D printing parts is cost beneficial when there is no justification for building a tool to produce the parts and lead time is short. That almost always means low volume and quick turnaround…hence the 3D printing alias of “Rapid Prototyping”. If you can justify the cost of building a tool and you have the luxury of no time constraints to build the tool, 3D printing will probably not be the answer.
Having an accurate, production representative container prototype available in weeks, instead of months, and with no tooling costs is a major savings in time and money in the overall packaging design process. Marketing studies and design reviews can be conducted months before they are done with the current process. Since 3D printing is “lights out” manufacturing, necessary revisions can be incorporated overnight.
Containers printed by a Multi Jet Printer that can be labeled or chrome plated.
What’s a misconception that first-time customers have?
Palovich: Most customers have the “high volume discount” mentality that is a result of always purchasing parts that have been tooled. Since there is not the high volume to amortize the tool cost with 3D printing, there is sometimes “sticker shock” when the piece price is quoted. Once the reality of not having to spend tens of thousands of dollars in tooling sets in, the price shock goes away.
What advice do you have for brand owners?
Palovich: Packaging is critical to brand management, as is the printing of packaging. Our 3D-printed rapid prototypes, labeled with full color graphics and text, allow the brand owners to conduct the necessary marketing studies and design reviews in significantly reduced timeframes. Any design revisions in the container shape and/or the label can be incorporated in new prototypes within days. The brand recognition of a new product can be established and proven before the first product is on the retail shelf.
To learn more about 3D printing, consider attending MinnPack Nov. 4-5 in Minneapolis that features a 3-presentation track on the technology on Nov. 5.