Tessa’s Weekly Picks – Packaging 3D Printing


Tessa Blokland  


Inspired by the interview with Anne Debauge, Digital Manager of Packaging and Development at L’Oréal by Adam Kohut from Ultimaker, I became curious about the use of 3D printing in the packaging industry. 

Of course, 3D printing is widely used to make prototypes for packaging bottles as you can see in this 3D printed plastic example (also top image) of L’Oréal. Why? Well, thanks to 3D printing it is possible to create faster iterations within the design process, which translates to shorter time to market. ‘…By going from concept to prototype more quickly, we drastically reduce time to market, too. In fact, before the 3D printing boom, development for a product launch could take anything up to 18 months. Today, we can validate new designs in just a day or two!’ L’Oréal mentions in the blog post that in 2017 they had created about 14,000 3D printed packaging prototypes. I can imagine this number will only grow with the growing demand for customized and even personalized cosmetic products.

Another 3D printed example of packaging prototyping is from Markus Adam and Julien Göthling from 3D printing service company Trinckle. Adam and Göthling participated in a packaging competition. The competition’s goal was to create a design that would improve stacking capability, ease handling, leaving enough surface area for branding, all while keeping cost-efficiency at the forefront. With 3D printing, the designers found the right technology to make their concept a reality.

In the pharmaceutical industry, 3D printing is also used for producing packaging prototypes in order to make sure the design of the package is safe for usage and – most importantly – can’t be opened by young children. The 3D printed example below is an enlarged detail of a child-safe screw cap. Enlarging the design enables a closer examination of how it works and it also makes it easier to determine the right manufacturing technology for mass production.

Part of the packaging industry also has to do with the factory production line. The 3D printed example below was produced by Igus for cosmetic company Carecos Kosmetik GmbH. With every change of product in the production line, the company has to change the metal grippers made for the packaging machines, which grip the lids and screw them onto cans. Meaning another €10,000 per part as well as a 6-week delivery time. Thanks to 3D printing a gripper can be printed within 10 to 12 hours. The math is not that difficult to understand that this is quite a decrease in costs.

Another example of cost reduction in the packaging industry is by Pack Line Ltd. Each machine Pack Line designs is customized to a specific industry or customer requirements which means low volume production of parts. Producing low quantities with traditional manufacturing comes with high costs and long lead times – a major pain point that Pack Line sought to overcome. Thanks to 3D printing Pack Line can offer its customers better service with 3D printed customized parts on-demand, no minimum order requirements, higher functionality of parts (thanks to greater design freedom), and equally or better material properties, as tested with the 3D printed pusher part below.

3D printing is used in the packaging industry in various stages of the packaging process. With the rising demand for customization, versatility and above all fast-paced production, I can only imagine that the use of 3D printing in the packaging industry will increase in the coming years. If you have more examples of the use of 3D printing in the packaging industry, feel free to share this with us.

LEO Lane_Weekly Pick_Packaging 3D Printing

Each of Tessa’s weekly picks is a curated group of 3D printed designs, based on the week’s chosen theme. If you would like to offer a theme for Tessa, or if you have your own 3D printed weekly picks you would like to see featured, please let us know by commenting below. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest weekly picks every week in your mailbox.

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