Two-for-One Tubes—A Case Study

James Alexander Corporation's DuoDispersion System beauty product packaging
James Alexander Corporation's DuoDispersion System beauty product packaging

Creating unique packaging for beauty products is not a new concept, but developing packaging that is visually and tactically engaging while also functional is a distinct challenge recently taken on by James Alexander Corporation (JAC), a manufacturer, contract packager and customer filler of unit-dose dispensing systems that work well for skin care and topical applications. For this project, JAC worked to develop a consumer-friendly tandem package for one of its existing customers.

The customer contacted JAC requesting a unique package capable of containing two components that, due to their individual chemistries, could not be mixed until point of use. The client wanted a single-use package and, for compatibility issues, each component had to be housed in glass. The package also had to be easy and safe to use for consumers, and would need to hold a combined volume of 1.2 milliliters. Finally, per the protocol JAC had used in previous packaging solutions for this particular customer, it was required that the formulas be hermetically sealed in each glass ampoule. This would extend the formula’s shelf life and help eliminate compatibility issues between the formula and package.

The first hurdle was tweaking the existing formula and determining the fill volumes needed for each chemical component, an effort which JAC supported through several sample runs. Once the formula alteration was achieved, James Alexander needed to design a butyrate tube and cardboard sleeve that would accommodate the two glass ampoules and make the concept possible.

Directing the Design

Richard May, director of engineering for James Alexander Corporation, took the lead in this process. In his 25 years with the company, he has designed several of JAC’s filling and swabbing machines, along with a variety of its custom components. He has noted that this particularly project would be among his most challenging to date.

With the filling trials completed, May knew the length of the ampoules which, in turn, would determine the design of the tube and cap. A series of renderings were created and, from there, the tube and cap manufactured on a trial-run basis.

Additionally, any time James Alexander identifies a new tube or cap, the company performs ease of breakage and puncture resistance testing to ensure consumer safety and convenience. This particular packaging solution, however, required more in-depth testing to determine a variety of additional factors, including the proper ampoule placement (i.e. which goes on the top of the tube and which goes on the bottom); which ampoule should be broken first; and which tip would work best in allowing the desired volume of solution to flow through easily.

Final Use

The final step was educating consumers on proper use of the new package—a challenge made more daunting given the fact that many consumers neglect to read packaging use instructions. Knowing that some level of instruction was mandatory for the new package, artwork was created to help communicate in images what consumers most likely would fail to read in words.

The result is a tandem swab package that James Alexander refers to as its DuoDispersion System, a packaging solution that has been in-market since late 2011.

Since that time, the company has manufactured more than two million of these pieces on its customer’s behalf. Also, the package is now available in a dropper tip version and can be customized to fit various products. This means that, although the product on the market is a beauty product, this packaging solution also could be used for pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, reagents and vet products, all of which James Alexander has experience filling.

Carol Gamsby is the director of sales for James Alexander Corporation, a New Jersey-based packaging manufacturing company whose services include packaging design and development, compounding, sample runs, prototyping, sterilization, and further packaging.

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