Leading packaging managers say the use of 3D printing is “very beneficial” and has “tremendous value” to produce packaging prototypes, molds and parts for machinery, according to an informal poll taken of key industry contacts.
How hot is 3D printing? According to a market report published last week, Global 3D Printers Market Forecast and Opportunities, the market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of more than 31% through 2020.
The range of industries looking to tap value—and finding it—in using the technology includes packaging.
“We use 3D printing to make packaging prototypes, molds to thermoform parts and prototyping of packaging machine parts,” said one packaging engineer for a consumer packaged goods company involved in food packaging.
Another in packaging development management for a global healthcare products company said, “We use our 3D printers extensively to produce functional prototypes. It’s a great new capability that we have recently added in R&D—and we have found it to be very beneficial.”
Using 3D printing since 2005
There are those that have been using the technology in packaging for as long as 10 years. For example, The California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo, has used the technology since 2005 when it installed a Stratasys Dimension printer.
“We use it for student projects and for research/consulting projects,” explains assistant professor Javier de la Fuente, PhD, Industrial Technology and Packaging, Orfalea College of Business. “Applications include prototyping packaging parts that would require injection molding, thermoforming or blow molding. Sometimes we 3D print molds for thermoforming and plastic devices that we use in experiments.
“We see tremendous value in this technology. It allows us to do design iteration very quickly. It’s important for us to expose students to 3D printing so they gain invaluable hands-on experience that can be used in their future industry positions.”
3D printing is also a regular venue at key industry tradeshows. For example, PackEx Toronto June 16-18 offers a 1-day seminar Tuesday June 16 entitled Revolutionizing the Manufacturing Process Through 3D Printing. You can also register for the event here.
Packaging Digest has reported on the technology regularly including for one innovative brand owner that uses 3D printing to produce every biodegradable package it sells. Packaging supplier AllenField sees 3D printing as an engine for growth; the above image is of its 3D printer. Other select 3D printing articles at PackagingDigest.com: New bioplastic material for 3D printing creates parts, packages at high speeds; 3D printing corralled in Fort Worth; and 3 ways packaging lines can use 3D printing to save time, materials and money.
Now we welcome your participation in a 3D Printing for Packaging poll whether your company uses the technology or not; responses can be done anonymously. Please take our short poll by clicking here.