New technologies have a powerful impact on our lives and businesses, especially in highly competitive industries such as logistics and customized packaging solutions. In the last decade, new materials and smart robots have helped specialized companies like Logistic Packaging create innovative packaging materials, tailored to very specific needs.
But there is a new emerging technology which will soon bring more value and innovation to customized packaging in particular and in the professional packaging industry in general. We are talking about 3D printing.
3D Printers – See the Product Appear Before Your Eyes
The first experiments with 3D printers must have looked like magic to most people, even professionals. Here is a machine which can understand a three dimensional model and create it to the most minute detail. At the present, 3D printers are more or less mainstream equipment for several hi-tech industries. Their prices are still too high to make their entrance in the field of consumer goods.
The innovation created by 3D printing technology is beyond the wow factor. It is truly a game changer in the world of manufacturing and even in medicine (some experiments of 3D printed organs have been successfully completed to date). For the logistics and packaging industry, it means a complete freedom to create very specific and customized packaging materials.
Key Statistics Concerning 3D Printing and the Industrial Manufacturing
The outlook is highly optimistic. Although there is no specific survey dedicated to the packaging industry so far, we can extrapolate from overall data obtained by PWC in a survey on the adoption rate of 3D printing in industrial manufacturing.
According to the respondents:
- 66% of manufacturers are already using 3D printing in some way;
- 51% of them use 3D printers specifically for prototyping;
- 4 in 10 respondents believe that 3D printing will soon be used in mass production.
The Top Benefit of 3D Printing in Packaging: Small Batches at Affordable Prices
The number one problem with highly customized containers, foam inserts or pallets was the fact that the client had to order a very large quantity from each model in order to obtain an affordable price. Small batches were unpractical, because each of them requires design work, creating a template and programming the entire production line.
With 3D printers, the digital model is uploaded into the memory of the machine, and it starts creating as many copies as the operator sets – just like your regular office printer. This is tremendously simpler and involves significant fewer costs for the packaging producer: less electricity consumption, less materials, and practically no downtime while the printer is set to create a new batch of products.
3D Printing = No More Wastes
Another key aspect which makes 3D printing a viable solution for the future of customized packaging solution is the fact that it is a manufacturing process with no wastes. Any scrap products can be immediately sent to be shredded to plastic pellets and reused to make new pieces of acceptable quality.
At the same time, the constant need for raw material for 3D printing will also solve the problem of packaging wastes: compared to other production processes, 3D printing simplifies the process of feeding materials into the machine. All old and damaged plastic containers, pallets and boxes will be turned into new products through a simple and cost effective recycling process.
Looking Ahead: New Ways to Serve Our Customers
For the team at Logistic Packaging, every new technology which makes our work easier and helps us serve our customers better is more than welcome. We are always striving to help our customers create and produce customized packaging solutions which meet their precise requirements and have a fair price.
At the present, we can offer our customers the rapid prototyping service for customized packaging, using 3D printing. When you need a special packaging material which we will design from scratch, we will first create a fully functional prototype by 3D printing. Once you are satisfied that it is exactly what you need, we will develop the cast and start the production of the batch of customized packaging solutions.
Once 3D printers reach an adoption rate in our industry to yield a good return on investment and total cost of ownership, we will certainly adopt this technology as main production process and explore new ways in which we can assist our customers.