3D Printing Technology and Packaging IndustryPosted On: Sep-25-2019  By: Charlotte


3D printing Technology and Packaging industry

The packaging industry is full of surprises and innovations. Every changing year brings on several new trends with it. The industry has undergone major challenges over the past few decades. As we all know that printing is an essential part of the packaging process. The major shifts in printing have increased the demand of the customers.  They want their custom printed boxes to be designed exceptionally. The change from offset to digital printing platform is one of the biggest successes in this regard. Another emerging trend seen from a couple of years is 3D printing. It has given rise to a new level of creativeness and customization. Although the manufacturers are making constant struggle in this field, still many efforts are required to make it the future of the retail sector. 
3D printing Technology

Below are some of the aspects which explain the relation between 3D printing and packaging industry:

3D Printing:

3D Printing

3D printing is one of the biggest advancements in the industry. It is a process of creating a three-dimensional solid object from a computerized digital file. The 3-dimensional printed object is made by using the additive process. Successive layers of material are laid down until the object gets completed. You can see each layer as a thin-sliced horizontal cross-section of the object. The production is controlled by software working on computer-aided design. 3D printing enables manufacturers to produce complex shapes by using less material as compared to traditional manufacturing techniques. 

How 3D Printing is affecting Packaging Industry?

The packaging is one of the largest industries. It provides unlimited packaging solutions like custom cardboard boxes for products, custom size shipping boxes, a folding box, pop counter and other types of custom retail packaging. There have been various shifts concerning design and technology over the past few years. 3D printing is one of the emerging trends. Although it has not established its operations directly in traditional paper boxes packaging, it has made a major contribution to the food packaging sector. A US company Smart Cups implemented the technology to launch a wide range of energy drinks. The company designed 3D printed biodegradable cups which look like plastic. The ingredients of the energy drink are contained inside the packaging.  As the customers add water the contents get released. The packaging will itself stir the drink to ensure proper mixing. In addition to energy drinks, Smart Cups is working on hot, cold and fizzy drinks for expansion. The technology shows that 3D printing is not only about on-demand packaging material or customization. Rather it's a complete change of function to make packaging a part of the product. Thus the advancements in 3D printing will change almost everything in the future. 

Another work started on July 2015. The experts from management consultancy McKinsey tried to implement 3D printing in the cosmetic sector. They viewed it as pioneering technology which can be the future of cosmetic packaging. They created "Multi Packaging Solutions" which can be manufactured following the customer wishes and prototype. However, till now this approach worked only for glass bottle or other decorative closure, and not for cosmetic boxes. Its mass production is expensive and time-consuming making it a big challenge.  

Benefits and Drawbacks:

In recent years, 3D printing gained real market penetration in the packaging sector. The technology keeps on getting better each year, providing an array of opportunities to designers and brands to work on. 3D printing is beneficial for creating on-demand packaging. This reduces the waste and volume of packaging which goes into the bin. 3D printing also offers personalized packaging for customers. This may include everything starting from a label to a presentation box or whatever customer likes. It speeds up the innovation cycle and results in rapid prototyping. 
On the other hand, if we talk about drawbacks, the process of additive manufacturing and 3D printing is extremely time-consuming. It involves a large cost for mass production. To switch to 3D printing, the manufacturers have to revolutionize the packaging machinery. This demands large investment. Its operations and maintenance require highly technical staff. These are some of the things which might make it less acceptable. If we talk about other current techniques of custom packaging and printing, the manufacturers can create hundreds of presentation packaging boxes in almost no time. The custom boxes wholesale business is affordable to start and required less technicality. The brands may easily switch to custom Kraft boxes and other recyclable alternatives to take an eco-friendly initiative. But no one knows where we stand in the future. The increasing popularity of 3D printing may make it govern packaging industry in upcoming years. 

3D printing is one of the latest trends across the packaging industry. Although the process is timely and costly, with the time it may drive consumer demand to a great level. 

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