3D printing is not a new form of technology, but over the years, its evolution has made it more prominent across industries, particularly within packaging.
Let’s find out why…
Firstly, with the help of 3D printing, companies have the ability to accelerate early stage product development through effective prototyping.
Through this process, designers can create multiple digital models of packaging and simply use a 3D printer to generate prototypes. This enables them to save on material, labour, and provide a real glimpse into the functionality of each prototype.
In turn, this results in a more effective manufacturing process because designers can better fine tune their packaging.
Therefore, 3D printing can provide immediate cost and time-saving benefits in addition to a high level of accuracy.
custom and personalized packaging
Secondly, nowadays, the trend of personalized packaging is prevalent across the food and beverage industry. This is because consumers give a higher value to custom products.
To meet this demand, 3D technology enables customers to design and make their own highly customized packages on request. As a result, various designs can run simultaneously, while catering to individual needs.
For example, let’s consider the customization of PepsiCo’s promotional Black Panther Brisk tea cans.
In 2018, PepsiCo partnered up with Marvel Studios to offer a limited-edition kit featuring 3D printing from an American company called Protolabs.
The kit contained five cans representing each of the movie’s main characters, a Samsung tablet, comic books, behind-the-scenes photos, a light up carton with HiLight smart LEDs, and a 3D-printed Black Panther mask that fit onto the corresponding can.
Since only 250 units were required, the team was in search of a manufacturing solution that could produce a highly complex geometric design while being economical. Quickly, they were able to conclude 3D printing as the winner.
With this type of technology, strong, cost-effective, detailed masks were successfully made to last for years!
Closer to the release of Black Panther, PepsiCo sent its promotional kit to hundreds of online influencers and others involved with the creation of the movie.
The campaign resulted in numerous posts on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube and received more than 10 million social media impressions.
Consequently, an R&D packaging engineer at PepsiCo states, “The success of the Black Panther mask not only demonstrates Protolabs’ capabilities, but the potential of 3D printing to advance packaging design.”
Easy Recycling and no waste of materials
Lastly, one of the most attractive things about 3D printing is the fact that it is incredibly sustainable. It allows for the easy recycling and repurposing of materials to reproduce packages and prototypes.
In fact, with 3D printing, plastic waste can be cleaned, dried, shredded, extruded into a printable filament that can be recycled into a 3D printer for a new product.
Moreover, it produces little to no waste because it does not use any more material than it has to. It’s very economical because it can create an entire package through one process.
Likewise, you can experiment with different materials, such as plastic, nylon, glass-filled polyamide, metals (silver, steel, titanium), wax and polycarbonate.
The versatility of materials enables companies to expand or develop new kinds of packaging. In turn, this can have a positive impact on the overall industry.
How Will 3D Printing change the market?
With ongoing and future developments, companies can improve their manufacturing processes to gain a competitive edge.
By using complex shapes, various materials, and accurate prototypes, businesses can elevate their packaging designs to influence customer’s buying power.
In turn, this technology can be very beneficial for boutique, luxury, fragrance, and cosmetics brands because for them image matters!
In addition to packaging for luxury industries, 3D printing can also aid with printing smaller manufacturing parts and custom box inserts!
Overall, according to the report by Research and Markets, the global digital printing packaging market is estimated to reach revenues of around $28 billion by 2024 with a compound annual growth rate of 11%!
Truly this form of print application is disruptive and is going to stick around for a while!