Rapid prototyping for corrugated packaging
Production-ready prototypes of corrugated packaging can be made in a day, according to the team at Encase. The company is using computer-aided design (CAD) software at its rapid-design test drive centre in Leeds, UK, launched on 27 February 2008.
Specialists in corrugated board engineering, manufacturing and packaging, Encase has developed the service for customers involved in supermarket retail, white and brown goods, DIY, component manufacture, and the automotive and technology sectors.
The KASEMAKE Design Software and CAD Table turn a pack concept into 3D drawings that are presented and discussed with the client, before one or more is selected to be cut on the same day.
The system is designed to overcome bottlenecks, particularly for rapid response shelf-ready packaging, caused by the labour intensive and lengthy process of producing numerous prototypes that go back and forth for adjustments between the customer and manufacturer.
Modifications can now be made online in real time as design engineers amend the dimensions, add graphics, and select the correct and most economical grade of corrugated board. Physical samples are then produced for testing.
Video conferencing allows the client’s brand managers and marketing teams to view the design process remotely as it progresses.
Layer by layer
The Encase team ‘work back from the shelf’. The company examines how the pack performs in terms of materials handling, storage on pallets, product load and in-store handling, so that it reaches consumers damage free.
Pallet and shelf density are factored in for cost effective distribution. ‘There is no point having the best design if it cannot work with pallet and materials handling systems,’ says Chris Else, Encase’s Business Development Manager.
Using the CAD program, the team can test functionality by filling the pack with a 3D drawing of its future contents. This allows the client to view the pack as it may look on display, which is particularly useful for designing packaging for complex components such as car radiators and engines. Previously, designers would have to wait for a product prototype to arrive to build the pack around it.
Three-dimensional animation also allows designers to place packs on virtual shelves, pallets and merchandising units for a complete picture of the product’s movement through the supply chain.
Encase plans to establish test drive centres at its other sites in Banbury and East Kilbride.