3D printing corralled in Fort Worth

3D printing corralled in Fort Worth

If there’s been a technical topic universally hotter than 3D printing, which has application to packaging as well as numerous other markets and fields, I’d like to know what that is.

A good barometer of the technology’s popularity could be seen this week at the Fort Worth, TX, Convention Center, which hosted the TexasPack event as well as the six other UBMCanon.com shows co-located under a unified design & manufacturing banner.

Knowing little about the topic and wanting to learn more, I was drawn to an afternoon session on May 7 entitled “3D printing Capabilities: Innovative Tools & New Materials for Design & Manufacturing” featuring –appropriately enough—a trio of speakers and presentations.

Here are some of the things I learned and assorted points of interest.

From Darin Everett of Stratasys.com I learned that:

  • The technology has been around far longer than I realized—vendor Stratasys has been shipping 3D printers since 1991;
  • All 3D printers create objects layer by layer as directed by 3D CAD drawings in Standard Triangulation Language (.stl) format;
  • Commercial 3D printers are those costing $10,000 and up; consumer printers are those costing $2,500 and less;
  • Stratasys’s Objet500 Connex3 introduced in January was the world’s first and only multicolor (three materials) 3D printer for more realistic prototypes.

From Michael Moussa of PartSnap.com I learned that:

  • UV curable resins make for better 3D printed containers;
  • 3D printing not only relies on CAD, it relies on the user’s CAD expertise;
  • Next up is nanoscale 3D printing that will yield objects with a high strength to weight ratio.

From Mike Rainone of PCDWorks.com I learned that:

  • 3D printers are creating human bladders and veins;
  • NASA has awarded a contract for printing food.

Lastly: The show guide indicated five vendors offered 3D printing, but it seemed to me in walking the aisles there were more. In fact, in one packaging supplier’s booth, I was surprised to learn that a number of the samples on display were created using the company’s 3D printer. Appropriately enough, they were made of polylactic acid, or PLA, a common polymer used in packaging targeted toward sustainable packaging solutions. I will aim to present further details on that vendor’s experience in a future article.

The right adhesive can cut your packaging costs

The right adhesive can cut your packaging costs

Looking for a way to reduce your packaging costs? You may not need to look any further than your adhesive system. Though it’s often overlooked, your adhesive system can have a big impact on your overall packaging costs, and choosing the right adhesive is key. But how do you figure out which adhesive solution is right for your business? By formulating clear answers to the following two questions:

  1. What is the “right” adhesive for your specific packaging application?
  2. What are the packaging costs you’re trying to cut?

Defining the “right” adhesive

The first of the above questions is one that is often asked, but rarely addressed fully. That’s because the question itself is vague: To determine the “right” adhesive for your packaging application, you must formulate a definition of what a “right” adhesive means for you. To do that, you need to consider the answers to questions like:

  • What are the exact bond requirements between your substrates?
  • Do you have a peel test or shear test requirement?
  • Do you have a drop test from a certain height at a certain temperature?
  • Does the adhesive bond need to withstand particularly high or low temperatures?
  • Are there end user opening preferences that need to be considered?
  • Does your assembly process require a certain amount of “open time” or “set time”?
  • Do you require a certain percentage of fiber tear?
  • Does the package need to be “Tamper Evident” after being opened?

After fully addressing these considerations, it’s on to question two, where you’ll explore your specific packaging cost needs.

Defining “packaging costs”

“Packaging costs” mean different things to different people. For example, Client A may be talking about the actual cost of the hot melt used to properly close the package, while Client B thinks of packaging costs in terms of improving the package quality, and Client C is thinking of something else altogether. Clarifying what falls under your definition of “packaging costs” will ultimately help determine the way you reduce those costs.

Don’t be surprised when you realize that there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution. The “right” adhesive for helping you lower your packaging material costs may be different from the “right” adhesive that would allow you to effectively package at higher speeds or reduce packaging line downtime.

Want adhesive success? Test, test, test

Regardless of the specifics of your packaging applications, you’ll likely need to perform some comprehensive testing in order to find the right adhesive. You should plan on testing different adhesives, adhesive patterns and packaging materials as well as your speeds of operation and your actual application equipment capabilities. Often, tests like these have never been performed, or haven’t been reviewed in years or even decades. This type of evaluation, while it can be time-consuming and costly, is an investment in your company’s bottom line and can help you dramatically cut costs.

There is an optimal adhesive for every packaging process that will reduce packaging costs, but determining this optimal adhesive only happens after you fully and properly define your requirements.

Pierce Covert is the president of Glue Machinery Corp. which builds sells and services industrial hot melt and cold glue systems used worldwide by a wide range of manufacturers.

5 outrageous packages that demand ‘Look at me!’

5 outrageous packages that demand ‘Look at me!’

What lengths will you go to with your packaging to insist on attention at the shelf? Sculpt a bottle in the shape of a skull? Add dreadlocks? Hollow out a tree? Go trigger happy? Encase it in an egg?

Check out these outrageous packages, designed with flair and flash, for products as varied as liquor, fragrances, DVDs, hosiery and car cleaners.

1. For the limited-edition DVD release of “Predator 3D: Ultimate Hunting Trophy,” Fox Home Entertainment produced a package that is a sculpted Predator head. Standing at 16-inches tall, the head comes complete with a removable metallic mask, flexible dreadlocks, glossy gums with rubber teeth, reptile-like skin and more. AGI-Shorewood Group (ASG) produced 16,000 packages for sale in 24 countries. According to ASG, Fox Home Entertainment sold out the 500 it earmarked for Comic Con 2013 in four days.

2. Crystal Head Vodka is an award-winning spirit created in 2008 by actor Dan Ackroyd (of “Ghostbusters” and “Blues Brothers” fame). During distilling, the vodka is filtered through 500-million-year-old quartz crystals that supposedly have spiritual qualities. The remarkably intricate glass bottle is designed as a replica of the 13 enigmatic crystal head artifacts first discovered in the 19th century and reported to have mystical powers and, if you believe the story from “Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” alien origins. Watch this video of how the bottle is made by Milan-based Bruni Glass.

3. Greased Lightning, the U.K.’s fastest growing car care brand, pulled the trigger on bold packaging for its line of cleaning and protection products when they initially launched on a TV shopping channel. They are now available through the company’s website, as well as through retail outlets, including garden centers and general merchandise stores, and have enjoyed 20 percent year-over-year growth. The all-white trigger sprayer is engineered in a futuristic design. Printed in seven colors, the durable laminated labels from Essentra Packaging cover the entire bottle for a dramatic effect.

4. For its new men's fragrance, Wild Forest, Spanish perfumery brand Armand Basi hollowed out a single block of ash wood so the glass bottle holding the scent would fit in snuggly. The wood is tinted to highlight the grain and accommodates a vertical stripe molded into the bottle that lets gentlemen see how much product is in the bottle. Crafted by Technotraf Wood Packaging, a Quadpack company, the custom wood package is topped off with a square wooden cap (also ash) to complete the look and communicate the brand’s balance between nature and urban chic.

5. Time warp! L’eggs Sheer Energy legwear reinstated its iconic egg packaging (initially introduced in the 1970s) for its recent “Fabulous after 40 Years” sweepstakes, offering female consumers a chance to win more than $40,000 in prizes. Watch the 3D animated video on the brand’s Facebook page that showcases the egg through the years, from the Far Out '60s, the Totally Awesome '80s and OMG 2000s. Angela Hawkins, vp, general manager of legwear at brand owner HanesBrands, says, "We're excited to bring back a part of the L'eggs brand heritage that's remembered and cherished by so many.” The limited-edition heritage egg packaging is available at Walgreens and select Rite-Aid and Walmart stores.

Hot melt dispensing system: Product of the Day

Hot melt dispensing system: Product of the Day

Making its debut at Interpack, the leading processing and packaging show, is Valco Melton's hot melt dispensing system – the Kube. The packaging melter is the only one of its kind to allow for three separate machine mount configurations which helps to optimize adhesive dispensing performance while using any adhesive brand. Customers can use the Kube for all their packaging needs and it is ideally suited for the food and beverage industries since it meets the requirements.

Valco Melton, 513-874-6550


H.B. Fuller investment pushes speed to market for packagers

H.B. Fuller investment pushes speed to market for packagers
The grand opening of the Packaging Center of Excellence on April 29.

That’s the intent of the adhesive supplier’s $1 million investment in its North America Packaging Center of Excellence, which had its grand opening at the company’s headquarters in St. Paul, MN, on April 29.

“The center has been created to drive the industry forward and help customers protect their assets and brands as well as find new ways to reduce costs,” stated Steve Ringsdore, vp, Americas and Converting, H.B. Fuller.

In short, this effort and investment is meant to improve:

  • Speed to market;
  • Project collaboration;
  • Getting the project right the first time.

The lab includes the following systems:

Refurbished-as-new Krones labeler that offers speeds to 1,000 labels/minute or more;

Dorner conveyor;

Mid-speed WePackIt model 310E case erector.

Among the portable glue applicators that can be used on the above equipment:

Graco InvisiPac Tank-Free hot melt delivery system;

ITW Dynatec Dynamelt S Series adhesive supply unit;

Nordson tankless Freedom system;

Valco Melton Model D4-e Gear Pump hot melt unit;

Robatech “Concept Diamond” adhesive melter/applicator.

During the event, Packaging Digest conducted a one-on-one interview with Ringsdore:

How does the opening of the Packaging Center of Excellence (PCE) affect your customers?

Ringsdore: One of the key aims to the Center is to speed up the pace of innovation and to provide solutions for customers. Now when customers are looking to change substrates or changing cartons, we can simulate how that will run using the PCE to see if there are any issues with bonding that substrate or running the substrates on the machinery before they put it into production.

How did the idea for the Center originate?

Ringsdore: Definitely from feedback from customers that the speed to provide solutions and the need to provide innovative solutions quickly when there is an issue; getting something quickly that they knew would run the first time was a common trend we were hearing from our key customers. That’s why we decided to move quickly and put this into place. And we had experiences of our [three] other Centers of Excellence in other parts of the world that reinforced the conviction that this adds to value for our customers.

What kind of projects are expected?

Ringsdore: Basically, when customers that want to change something in their process. That could be changing the substrates, machinery or speeds they are using. But they can now simulate that in the PCE before they run on their line. Downtime on a typical production line costs $150 a minute so, without risking any downtime, customers have the ability to test that change first in the PCE. That is one of the key things our customers are going to use this for.

By customers, I mean those who package something, as well as some converters in flexible packaging market. They range from large multinationals to small privately run businesses.

What’s the current status for the PCE?

Ringsdore: We have a team that is dedicated to managing the lab, we have an established process to log in customers and coordinate those visits. We also pin down with our sales and technical teams exactly what the customer wants to achieve before they arrive using a detailed checklist. We also confirm with them their objective before we begin a productive one- or two-day in-lab time to satisfy their project needs.

We’ve already had several users, but that was before we had all the equipment installed and the processes in place. Once customers heard we had this capability, they immediately wanted to use it even before we had everything in place.

We expect that we’ll have two to three customers a week in the lab. There’s definitely a pent-up demand for this kind of work. And not just for Research & Development; the other kind of project work that will be conducted is for machinery companies and the substrate companies. We’ve had great interest from some of our allied suppliers like carton, ink and coating manufacturers, because they also want to make sure before they launch their products that their customers will be able to glue them.

There have been specific examples where companies have spent millions launching a new product only to find that they couldn’t glue it effectively.

So having this facility not only for customers, but also for our partners in the industry, is also creating a lot of excitement.

What is the lead time for use and costs to customers?

Ringsdore: We have technicians dedicated to the use of the lab who are experts in the machinery to ensure we can simulate the customer’s conditions. The beauty of the lab is that we can run at the same speeds as the customer’s equipment and put their substrates on it.

The lead time depends on the customer. We have a field team at their facility to clearly understand what their parameters are.

In most cases, there is not a cost, we offer this as service to our customers.

If we can help them get it right the first time, if we can help them reduce costs, that’s the kind of value we add for our customers.

We can fit in customers on a minute’s notice if there’s an urgent need. Typically, we’re talking two to three weeks’ lead time so that all the requirements are correctly documented.

This will be for your North American customers?

Ringsdore: The majority will be North American customers, and we are making it available to our Latin America customers. We’ve already had a customer from Mexico use the facility. We do have multinational customers who can see that we offer the same type of service here as in our other facilities around the globe.

Anything else you’d like to mention to our audience of packaging professionals?

Ringsdore: As CEO Jim Owens said in his presentation today, the key issue here is collaboration. We are not trying to sell glue to customers on a price per-pound basis; we want our customers to understand that we are here to partner with them.

And not just partner with them, but with their other suppliers as well.

One thing we are trying to do is prevent customers from dealing with projects one supplier at a time—one meeting with glue supplier, one with machine supplier, another with board supplier—but to put us all in one room. And also help them not only with our facility, but with other suppliers’ facilities as well and to get a project right the first time.

That’s what this is all about: The key issue is speed, and making sure through innovation and testing that things are done the right the first time, which is a huge cost advantage to the customer.

For more information, see H.B. Fuller invests in Packaging Center of Excellence, published Sept. 19, 2013.

Super air nozzle: Product of the Day

Super air nozzle: Product of the Day

The PEEK 3/8 NPT Super Air Nozzle has been designed to deliver the strongest blowing force and uses a protective aerodynamic design that guides airflow to a single point of convergence.  The PEEK Super Air Nozzle’s plastic construction makes it ideal for blowoff, cooling and drying applications found in general industrial or corrosive environments because it is resistant to damage from harsh chemicals and can operate in extreme temperatures.

Exair Corp., 800-903-9247


Coors Light makes a 'splash' with summer packaging

Coors Light makes a 'splash' with summer packaging

Summer is almost upon us and MillerCoors is trying to make it as refreshing as possible with its new limited-edition beer lineup—Coors Light Summer Brew. This seasonal launch is a first for the  brand and features special-edition design series packaging that will be rolled out till mid-July.

Packaging Digest interviewed Tristi Pfeiffer, director of marketing, Coors Light, about the packaging and how the brand is trying to strengthen its connection with Millennial beer drinkers.

What is the motivation behind MillerCoors recent activity in introducing new products/packaging?

Pfeiffer: We are continuously looking for ways to meet and exceed the expectations of American beer drinkers. Millennial consumers are especially interested in trying new flavors and styles, and they also love interesting design. This summer, Coors Light is delivering on both fronts, with the radler-inspired Coors Light Summer Brew and our special edition summer design packaging.

What are the benefits for retailers and/or consumers of doing this in tandem like you have?

Pfeiffer: For beer drinkers, Coors Light Summer Brew and special “Splash” design packaging will help them live summer to the fullest, bringing a new level of refreshment to their favorite time of the year. For retailers, it’s all about delivering new ideas that both attract new customers and increase the basket ring with existing customers.

When and where (regionally or nationally) were the products introduced?

Pfeiffer: Limited-edition Coors Light Summer Brew and the “Splash” design packaging both debuted nationally May 1.

What were the key goals and requirements from a marketing view? From a packaging view?

Pfeiffer: For both initiatives, we have short-term sales goals, which are confidential. But equally important, we expect Coors Light Summer Brew and our design series packaging to reinforce the Coors Light equity in “Rocky Mountain cold refreshment” and strengthen the brand’s connection with Millennial beer drinkers.

Any third-party involvement such as a packaging consultant or design company that should be credited?

Pfeiffer: San Francisco-based Landor is the packaging design agency for Coors Light.

What were the key goals of the graphics design?

Pfeiffer: Our objective with the Coors Light design series packaging is to grab the attention of Millennial beer drinkers with designs that bring “Rocky Mountain cold refreshment” to life in new and unexpected ways, giving them yet another reason to choose Coors Light over its competitors.

Where are the products packaged?

Pfeiffer: Coors Light Summer Brew is brewed and packaged at our Albany, GA, brewery. The “Splash” packaging is running at each of our eight breweries across the country.

The secret to reducing packaging costs?

The secret to reducing packaging costs?

When was the last time you thought about the adhesive system in your packaging process? When it comes to reducing packaging costs, the adhesive systems used in packaging applications are often ignored or overlooked. Adhesive systems are located at the end of most major packaging lines, and they’re usually one of the last components to be considered for an upgrade, even though they’re an integral part of the packaging process.

Most packaging companies think about adhesive costs like this: “Is the correct amount of low-cost adhesive being applied to produce sufficient bonds for quality packaging?” If the answer to that question is “yes,” they move on rather than dig deeper. The reality is that the right adhesive system can have a huge impact on your overall packaging costs—but you need to take a closer look.

Adhesive system wear and tear increases packaging costs over time

Most new hot melt/cold glue adhesive systems installed on packaging lines require very little maintenance initially, because all of the tanks, hoses, guns, filters and nozzles are clean and the solenoids and seals are all new. So, at first, the packaging costs associated with adhesive systems are low. 

However, after a few years of operation the costs associated with adhesive systems increase, with scheduled maintenance fees, line downtime due to problematic equipment, poorly bonded packages at the plant, dirty package machinery, damaged packages and new parts that must be purchased. Adhesive system costs typically don’t spike overnight, but rather increase gradually in a way that can mask their true impact on growing packaging costs.

When adhesive systems cause packaging lines to stop, costs skyrocket

If an element in your adhesive system isn’t operating properly and the packaging line has to be stopped, you lose both time and money. Case in point: A representative at a large pharmaceutical packaging facility recently told us that their unrecoverable costs due to a line downtime ran in the tens of thousands of dollars per hour. In some applications, the hourly downtime due to problematic adhesive machinery was well in excess of what it would cost to buy a brand-new system.

Trying to work around the problem can be more costly than solving it

To try to avoid situations like the ones described above, some companies with high-speed packaging applications have installed redundant adhesive systems, so there’s a “backup” system available at all times—and of course this backup system comes with its own installation and maintenance costs. Then there’s also the problem of poorly glued packages, which must be removed from the line to be repaired or repacked. This situation is so common that many factories have personnel whose sole job is to glue boxes that aren’t properly sealed in the automated packaging process—a wholly redundant expense.

Bigger than all the other costs mentioned, however, are the costs associated with defective packages that make their way to the customer or the end user. Unsold products, returns, additional shipping costs, warranty claims and customer dissatisfaction are the end result of a poorly glued package that makes it into the market.

Replacing technology makes good business sense

If your company wants to reduce its packaging costs, it’s worth taking a fresh look at your adhesive system. Normal wear and tear on your adhesive equipment can make it less effective and efficient over time, increasing your overall costs and causing issues for the packaging process and the end user. Replacing old adhesive machinery with new equipment is a surefire way to reduce packaging costs.

Pierce Covert is the president of Glue Machinery Corp. which builds, sells and services industrial hot melt and cold glue systems used worldwide by a wide range of manufacturers.


Flexible wrapper handles multiple pack styles and counts

Visitors to interpack 2014—which opens this Thursday, May 8, in Dusseldorf, Germany—will be among the first to see a new packaging system for biscuits (cookies in the U.S.) from Bosch Packaging Systems AG that takes flexibility in running different pack styles and counts to a lofty level. In this exclusive Packaging Digest video, Daniel Bossel, Bosch product manager, shows the main features of the new line that will be showcased in Hall 06 / A31 at interpack.

Bossel also answered our questions about the benefits of the new line:

How is this new biscuit packaging system different from previous or competitive systems?

Bossel: Bosch’s biscuit packaging system is the first of its kind capable of fast slug to pile changeovers, and vice versa, with the same feeding components. Designed for maximum flexibility, the line also features the fastest product count changes currently available on the market. Enabling biscuit manufacturers to meet global market demands, the system is capable of producing multiple pack styles, from smaller on-the-go packages to larger family packs. As the first complete system capable of producing slug and pile packs on the same line, it is truly two-in-one.

What were the challenges in designing the system to gain new levels of flexibility and fast changeover? How were these challenges solved?

Bossel: We listened to customer needs to help biscuit manufacturers capitalize on opportunities in the industry. Designing for optimum format and pack style flexibility was the biggest challenge. This meant engineering the line to package both slug and pile packs from one infeed.

By using the same feeding components, fully reproducible changeovers between both pile and slug packs can be completed in less than three minutes without changing parts. In addition, count changes, for example, from 14 to 8 biscuits per slug or from two-by-two to two-by-four piles, can be realized in less than one minute. This allows manufacturers to quickly run special promotions with maximum uptime.

Complementing primary packaging, the biscuit line is designed for versatile case packing, which can be adjusted quickly and easily to the required format and product configuration with vertical start-up.

How does the design allow for quick and easy cleaning?

Bossel: Designed for simplified cleaning, the biscuit line offers high visibility and accessibility for areas requiring sanitation, as well as belts that are simple to clean and replace. Gentle product handling technology decreases product breakage, waste and clean up, resulting in high overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). The system also features three-dimensional product inspection technology to reject broken biscuits. This prevents crumbs from accumulating throughout the system, which allows a continuous product flow and maximized production uptime.

How can food companies best use this system to its optimum performance?

Bossel: From distribution to secondary packaging, the entire line has been holistically designed as one seamless system. To facilitate high OEE, the speed of all line components is balanced to eliminate bottlenecks, minimize downtime and optimize production flow. It is designed with the operator in mind, with the same look and feel across the entire line, including one human machine interface (HMI) and standard operating procedures. This integrated design concept makes operation of the entire system as simple as operating a single machine, which reduces the risk of operating errors and maximizes uptime.

As one system capable of producing both pile and slug packs, the entire biscuit packaging line occupies a smaller footprint than two separate conventional machines for both formats. This allows manufacturers to save on production costs through reduced maintenance and man-hours.

What is the value of introducing this system to the packaging industry at interpack?

Bossel: Interpack is the world’s leading trade fair for packaging technologies. This allows for the greatest gathering of customers from across the globe to see the new system that will benefit their needs and achieve production goals.

CR cap for e-cig liquids: Product of the Day

CR cap for e-cig liquids: Product of the Day
Comar SecureCap closure for e-cig liquids

The SecureCap requires a push-and-twist action to open bottles and vials of liquid used to fill electronic cigarettes, adding a feature to the package that meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards for child resistance (CR). Designed to prevent accidental poisoning, the CR closures are also senior friendly and compatible with most existing e-cigarette cartridges. Available in seven colors, the closures can be applied, in most cases, using existing capping equipment. The company also supplies squeezable LDPE bottles and tips, including a long and narrow tip that is designed specifically for use in filling and refilling e-cigarette cartridges.

Comar LLC, 856-507-5409