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Applying X-Ray Vision to Plastic Fitments

3D scans of fitments on food and beverage containers turn the ordinary into the extraordinary with visuals that are beautiful, intricate, and totally fascinating.

Rick Lingle, Senior Technical Editor

March 23, 2022

3 Min Read
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Scan of the Month

What if Superman’s x-ray vision super-power was turned towards packaging?

The results would look a lot like what was posted earlier this month at a new website, Scan of the Month. According to the homepage, “As engineers, designers, manufacturers, and restless people, we used a CT scanner to scan a loaf of bread. That one scan has opened an entire world of exploration and a deeper understanding of the inner workings of life around us.”

Scan of the Month spokesman Drew Parrett divulges more about their method. “We use Computed Tomography (CT) scanning, a process of collecting x-ray images, called radiographs. These are then reconstructed into a 3D volume.”

The results are artfully attractive 3D-rendered GIFs that rotate as you watch.

The site's November launch with scans of Legos Minifigures was auspicious.

“It was surprising how large the response was, especially considering it was a cold start to the website,” says Parrett.

Other explorations since then have featured Airpods Evolution, Gameboy Compendium, and Instant Cameras. 

Which brings us to March, which highlights food packaging that include a squeeze bottles of Heinz ketchup and Sirachi Hot Sauce and a “rogue” beverage package mentioned below.

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As you can see, the colorful and highly revealing results focused on the containers’ highly engineered plastic fitments including Heinz's flip-top dispensing closure.

Scans reveal intricate engineering know-how.

“The more we CT scan things, the more we are realizing there is surprising engineering and manufacturing that is easily overlooked,” Parrett explains. “On a whim, we hit up a CVS Drugstore and grabbed a couple of everyday items. It turned out they were fascinating.”

This month’s food packaging scans proved a hit including at Reddit. “It’s been really popular!” exclaims Parrett. “I believe over 300,000 people saw this [there].”

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The Scan of the Month staff had their collective eyes opened by the complexity of the fitments’ design. It helps that the guys possess engineering and design savvy and know what they’re seeing. For example, the post at Reddit drills down into the plastic screw-cap fitment atop the Vita Coco coconut water carton (as seen above): “An industrial CT scanner created this 3D CAD model of a Vita Coco bottle cap showing a complex assembly of cams, followers, and saw blades that open the foil seal when the cap is turned.”
This month’s packaging selections also demonstrate the plastic fitments, closures, and dispensers that few give a second glance to are small marvels of engineering.

They’ve also done a bang-up job with punchy copy that accompanies the visuals that's not just informative, it's insightful. See for yourself at Scan of the Month.

About the Author(s)

Rick Lingle

Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday

Rick Lingle is Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday. He’s been a packaging media journalist since 1985 specializing in food, beverage and plastic markets. He has a chemistry degree from Clarke College and has worked in food industry R&D for Standard Brands/Nabisco and the R.T. French Co. Reach him at [email protected] or 630-481-1426.

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