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Students benefit from hands-on medical packaging design experience

Students benefit from hands-on medical packaging design experience
Clemson University senior packaging science students partnered with Eastman Chemical Co., Tek Pak, and Remington Medical to design packaging for orthopedic devices.

Eastman Chemical joins forces with Clemson University to offer students the opportunity to design packaging for medical products.

Each year, select senior students in Clemson University’s packaging science program put the knowledge they’ve gained over their academic careers to the test in a capstone course. Teams of four or five students work with an industry sponsor on a project that incorporates skills including packaging design, material selection, prototyping and determining specifications.

“All of that training gets used in the capstone course,” Clemson associate professor Robert Kimmel explained to Packaging Digest sister publication MD+DI.

When students said they wanted more of the projects to focus on healthcare packaging, a collaboration between Clemson and materials company Eastman Chemical Co. was born. In fall 2017, a group of students took on the task of working with Eastman to design and prototype rigid packaging for various sizes of hip implants.

That first time around, Eastman provided funding as well as materials and industry expertise, and the company learned a lot.

“…[W]e learned that it would be helpful to have some partners,” Aneta Clark, global market segment manager, Speciality Plastics–Medical Packaging, told another Packaging Digest sister publication PlasticsToday. “It would help students, as well, to see the project through the lens of a thermoformer, for example, or even an OEM [original equipment manufacturer].”

So when the 2018 academic year rolled around and Eastman again chose to sponsor a capstone project at Clemson, the company brought in some partners, adding Remington Medical, a supplier of disposable medical devices, and thermoformer Tek Pak.

“Tek Pak brought its processing and moldmaking expertise, and Remington Medical helped the students address validation requirements,” Clark told PlasticsToday.

The project gave students a taste of what they could expect from a career in medical device packaging, but it was also beneficial for Eastman, which is celebrating more than 40 years of “dedicated support to the medical manufacturing industry.”

“It was rewarding for us, as well,” Clark told PlasticsToday. “You almost test yourself a little bit, taking all your knowledge and trying to teach someone else. It was a unique experience, working with future talent, a group of motivated young people looking forward to their first jobs.”

Soon, Eastman will begin formulating a new project for fall 2019. Clemson is always looking for additional industry partners, too.

“We need six to seven sponsors every semester in order to have new projects for the students’ work,” Kimmel told MD+DI. For future projects, the program is “actively seeking collaboration with medical device industries to provide student projects, to support research and service projects, and to help us expand our facilities and educational opportunities in medical device packaging and other areas of healthcare packaging by providing support for equipment and new faculty,” he added.

Jamie Hartford is content director for Packaging Digest’s parent company, UBM Americas, Advanced Manufacturing Group.


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