Most Popular in:


Email This Item! Print This Item!

Art and Science Come Together

By: Marny Bielefeldt
Posted: February 6, 2013, from the March 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 2 of 2

For HDPE bottles, the blow molding process used (extrusion or injection) also affects the cost of the mold, so all factors are taken into consideration while determining which process to use. The anticipated annual volume, closure requirements and decorating process are just a few of the criteria to consider before selecting a platform and building a new mold.

Six Steps From Art to Part

In Alpha Packaging’s package development process, most of the steps listed above would fall under the description of conceptual brainstorming, the first. Then, once the blow molding process and preform requirements have been defined, Alpha will move on to the more creative steps of an artist’s rendering—the second step—followed quickly by CAD dimensional drawings, the third step.

These two steps not only give the custom package a visual image, they also apply engineering to the design, to fill in all of the specifications the bottle will have. The CAD drawing includes details regarding the neck finish, the gram weight, all of the bottle’s dimensions and wall thicknesses, as well as the base or push-up design. Each of these parameters is critical to the function of the bottle or jar, and must be approved by the brand owner before a model is built.

As a fourth step, a shaded image will be created. A shaded image is a three-dimensional drawing that can be colored to match the final bottle’s color. Then, depending on how certain the brand owner is about the visual aspects of the design, there are two options for the fifth step, which is a physical model.

If the customer is not certain the new design is exactly what they want, Alpha typically recommends the customer invest in an SLA model—a potential fifth step. This is an exact physical model, or SLA prototype, of the 3-D drawing that gives designers, engineers, manufacturers and brand owners the opportunity to handle a physical sample of the new product. They can put the closure on the sample, apply a label and actually feel the size of the bottle in their hands. For an investment that’s usually less than $1,000, they can confirm the bottle meets their requirements from a design perspective.

The second option for a physical model is to create a unit cavity mold of the bottle or jar and run actual plastic samples. This option is often selected when the product launch deadline is approaching quickly or the customer needs multiple physical samples of the actual package. Depending on what plastic and machine platform are being used for the final bottle, this unit cavity could cost anywhere from $2,500 to $12,000. Alpha, for example, can make dozens or even hundreds of sample bottles so the brand owner can conduct line tests or create marketing mock-ups before the rest of the blow cavities are built. If this bottle design is then approved, the cost for building the unit cavity can then be applied to the cost of the final blow set. However, if modifications are required, more investment also may be required.

The last step in the package development process is the finished custom package. This is a bottle that meets all the criteria set out in the steps listed above—and is the bottle that is ready to carry the new product to retail shelves where consumers can buy it.

Successful Development

Clearly, for beauty packaging to be successful, you need more than just a great idea. A close collaboration with a packaging company as your partner can make sure you’re well-guided through all the manufacturing, decorating, processing and development ins and outs, leading to the best possible chance at success for your product’s packaging.

Marny Bielefeldt is the director of marketing for Alpha Packaging, a leading manufacturer of plastic bottles and jars for the beauty, personal care, nutritional supplement, pharmaceutical, and food and beverage industries. She has worked with Alpha since 1994 to direct the company’s marketing activities and help bring new products to market in each of the segments it serves. She is a member of the Institute of Packaging Professionals, and also coordinates Alpha’s sustainable packaging initiatives.