Container performance needs to evolve. Fortunately, with new advances in simulation techniques and improvements in material databases, “what if” scenarios can be accurately predicted without building additional molds or consuming valuable machine time. Here are seven benefits from using predictive design engineering during packaging development.
1. Optimize part design. The previously popular process of gradually honing into a design sweet spot through multiple mold iterations and prototyping runs is being rapidly replaced by more efficient and increasingly accurate simulation tools which enable significant gains in cost and timing.
2. Improve container performance issues. Design software can rapidly optimize shapes by using parametric CAD models. A proven computer simulation model can determine the optimum geometric features needed to meet container performance requirements.
3. Highlight process deficiencies. Virtual modeling can point out deficiencies in current production processes. Manufacturing adjustments can be made to ensure the article can be properly molded at optimum target weights and thickness.
4. Avoid the lightweighting pitfalls driven by economic pressures. Virtual modeling allows you to test options such as removing material without compromising performance, changing design and improving structure. Often a lighter redesigned part can outperform a heavier one by optimizing thickness distribution and stretch ratios.
5. Add design elements to help trigger desired market impact. Virtual design engineering can add attributes or innovative container features that will enhance the consumer experience. Does the container have good hand feel, will it be stable on a shelf, does the label enhance the container and/or will consumers perceive value in the new features? You can 3D-print prototypes, fill with product, label and cap it. Samples can realistically validate these new features with consumer focus groups.
6. Minimize launch cycles and minimizing test cycles. If you are experiencing delays in production and escalating costs due to extensive shelf life performance evaluation, you should consider barrier modeling techniques. These can curtail the need for extensive testing of each prototype design change.
7. Become more competitive through virtual modeling. If your existing process turnaround is not allowing you to be as fast or nimble as your competitor, then virtual modeling can help. Implementing virtual modeling recommendations will reduce project frustration, minimize delays, produce superior results and help better manage costs.
Advances in virtual modeling tools are being continuously developed which will enable you to better understand and simulate your processing, packaging and testing. If you currently are not using predictive modeling, you should consider adding it to your container development process before your competition capitalizes on it.
Sumit Mukherjee is the Director of CAE and Simulation, Plastic Technologies, Inc. He has more than 23 years of experience in preform and container design, materials characterization, process simulation and modeling, and finite element analysis (FEA) for container performance prediction.
Plastic Technologies, Inc. (PTI) is recognized worldwide as a leading resource for preform and container design, container development, rapid prototyping, preproduction prototyping, and material evaluation engineering for the plastic packaging industry. For more information contact www.plastictechnologies.com or email [email protected] or phone 419-867-5424.