When it comes to creating truly revolutionary products, those moments are few and far between. Some products may not even be all that revolutionary but can still completely change their industry. The simplest example is the iPhone. It wasn’t the first phone invented so we can’t call it revolutionary. It wasn’t even the first smartphone. But it’s safe to say that the iPhone has completely influenced several industries since entering the market back in 2007
The same seems to be happening now with 3D printing. The idea is not new. In fact, 3D printing technology was invented back in the early 1980s. Despite being around for three decades, it’s only recently that its applications have begun to become influential throughout many industries.
Of all the packaging industry trends making a wave, 3D printing in the packaging industry is stepping into the forefront. Also called additive manufacturing, the packaging industry is beginning to make use of what some experts believe will be a US$4.0 billion industry by 2020. We discuss how profound an impact 3D printing can potentially have on the packaging industry.
3D Printing Can Potentially Reduce Costs
The key word here is “potentially.” The actual technology is still too cost-prohibitive to be mainstream. For some businesses, however, the potential for cost savings is real. This is because 3D printing is far more efficient at producing packages than any present method. It uses a minimal amount of material and its output is greater than other forms of production. Once the technology becomes more in demand, look for 3D printing costs to go down and more businesses to jump on the bandwagon.
Prototyping Process Quicker and More Effective
This is where the packaging industry can really benefit more immediately from 3D printing. The potential for effective prototyping is exciting. Designers can create different models of packaging digitally and simply use the 3D printer for prototyping the packaging. This saves on material, labour, and of course gives designers a real look at how their prototype can function. It definitely makes for a more efficient manufacturing process along with allowing designers to better fine tune their packaging.
3D Printing Offers Easy Recycling and No Waste of Materials
One of the more alluring components of 3D printing is the fact that it is incredibly sustainable. It allows for easy recycling because recycled materials can be used to reproduce packages and prototypes. Another benefit is that 3D printing has no waste. The process doesn’t use any more material than it has to and is the reverse of other packaging design processes, which inevitably waste at least some portion of the material being used. What’s also economical is the fact that 3D printing creates an entire package through one process. There is no need for separate processes for creating the packaging and then adding the printing.
One definite advantage of 3D printing is that you can experiment with different materials, such as plastic, nylon, glass-filled polyamide, metals (silver, steel, titanium), wax and polycarbonate, to name a few. The array of material available could have a positive impact on the packaging industry by allowing companies to expand or develop new kinds of packaging
Make no mistake that 3D printing is only just getting started as it relates to the 3D printing packaging industry. As it continues to grow, watch for 3D printing in food packaging and 3D printing in flexible packaging to be impacted the most.
The Unique Group prides itself on being forward thinking as it relates to the latest technology. To learn more about some of the packaging and labelling technology we utilize, browse our web site or contact us today. Plus, you can stay updated on our products by following us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
“How 3D Printing Technology Could Be Implemented Into Product Packaging,” 3DPrinting.com, February 25, 2014; http://3dprinting.com/products/how-3d-printing-technology-could-be-implemented-into-product-packaging/.
“Printing Revolution Series #1: 3D Printing,” Packaging Technologies Inc., last accessed January 10, 2017; http://ptibox.com/printing-revolution-series-1-3d-printing/.
“3D Printing and the Packaging Industry,” Classic Packaging Corporation, May 29, 2014; http://www.classicpackagingcorp.com/blog/3d-printing-and-the-packaging-industry/.