PD_Packaging Digest

Packaging Digest, Fall 2015

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32 NEW TECHNOLOGY // FALL 2015 www.PackagingDigest.com 3D printing's future in packaging is promising An exclusive survey provides an overview to the market status, forecast, advice and points to several unusual projects in the market that exemplify the applicability and possibilities of the technology for packaging. Rick Lingle, Technical Editor Exclusive survey results for packaging's role in 3D printing indicates that while current activity in 3D printing for packaging is limited, that will change due to increased investment in the technology as a near-term tipping point that will bring many more companies into using 3D printing for packaging. Tat's according to the results of Packaging Digest's informal 3D printing poll answered by industry professionals. We asked for their input whether or not they used the technology because we wanted to know the reasoning for those who don't. We'll start with the reasoning for those who use the technology, which was exactly one-third (33%) of our poll takers. What do they use it for? In a question that allowed multiple responses, 100% reported that they use 3D printing for prototyping. Also, 25% said they use it for packaging machinery parts and another 25% said they use it for "other" purposes. Here are specifc responses as to why they used the technology: "It is very valuable—an item in someone's hands that I am designing is better than a picture." "It provides rapid, iterative design free from current machine constraints." "It can speed up prototype lead time, it can help avoid costly dies that may have to be created just for an initial prototype. It also gets one to a high level of accuracy." "Speed and initial low cost to generate complex designs for consumer feasibility." "It provides fast, accurate prototypes that provide good feedback for all internal customers when developing new packaging or modifying the current packaging." "It ofers rapid prototypes without tooling costs." "We use it for rapid tooling development for deep embossing and debossing applications." "It's another important tool in the toolbox. Rather than use a CNC, milling machine or lathe, a 3D printer gives you another way to output a concept or idea to support the packaging innovation process." "It's an excellent way to provide unique solutions to customers." "It is very useful for mockup preparation." "We use it for components and machinery parts." "It enables us to quickly innovate and respond to our customers." "Te high value to see the advantages and disadvantages in the printed design." "Tere are too many advantages to list." We found that exactly one-third (33%) who use the technology have 3D printing in-house; more than one-fourth (27%) outsource the technology and 40% use a combination of self and contracted projects. Near-term potential and advice We found that the majority of respondents (about 63%) don't use 3D printing technology; of those, 44% reported that it was not applicable to their business while another nearly 30% reported that it was not in the budget. Examples of "other" responses that comprised 26%: "We don't know how best to utilize 3D for packaging; we are in a wait and see mode; we don't need it; and we have not done any projects currently, but may explore it for the future." Tis response captures the essence of those caught in the middle: "Tere's a huge potential, but currently the advantages in packaging are not clear." It was the future exploration that we wanted to address with the question "Do you plan to use 3D printing in the next 1-2 years?" Specifcally, 61% said Yes, 7% said No and 32% checked of Don't Know. We also asked for advice, which elicited these: following: "Buy 3D printers or partner with good 3D machine vendors. Also, don't be cheap!" "Find a partner. Most software companies that sell CAD CAM programs also ofer 3D printing." "First purchase Solidworks and become competent at design. Without that capability, the 3D printer will sit idle." "Tailor the printer type to your application. Tere are many choices each, with their own nuanced diferences." Does your company currently use 3D printing for packaging? Yes No Don't Know 33% 63% 4% Source: 2015 June Packaging Digest online poll Does your company plan to use 3D printing in the next 1-2 years? Yes 61% No 7% Don't Know 32% Source: 2015 June Packaging Digest online poll the percentages are reversed regarding the near-term use of the technology. one-third of the respondents currently use 3d printing while the majority do not.

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