For the younger generation of packaging designers and engineers brought up creating simulated societies, simulated friends, and even simulated selves on their computers, Constar International Inc.'s new i-Design™, an automated package development process, is sure to be the "must have" work tool going forward. And brand owners who want to cut weeks if not months of development time will be right there with them.
Publicly debuted at The Packaging Conference, i-Design is a proprietary software-based solution developed by Constar that automates the time-intensive modeling and analysis required when designing new packages. With a few mouse clicks, i-Design users can develop custom packages, make complex changes to an existing package, and even configure three-dimensional optimized pallet patterns. Projects that traditionally have taken as much as 40 hours of intense design by an experienced packaging engineer can now be done in a matter of minutes.
Constar's director of Design Engineering, Mike Mooney, explains: "As simple as a package seems, many are engineering marvels. The load bearing capacity of a plastic juice bottle, for example, is tremendous when you consider the minimal amount of material it contains. Even with computers crunching the numbers, a typical rigid plastic container requires hours of analysis to achieve specific design, cost, and sustainability objectives."
At The Packaging Conference, Mooney demonstrated a sample i-Design project. In less than 10 minutes, he created a 20-ounce six-panel hot-fill bottle, changed the label panel height, improved the waist design to achieve a lighter weight, converted the overall structure from six-panel vacuum to Constar's horizontally banded Vertical Compensation Technology™, optimized the design for pallet pattern, created preforms based on the new bottle's specifications, and printed finished CAD drawings of the new, improved bottle.
i-Design also helps address other business hot buttons like reducing material costs by optimizing the material in a package and increasing sustainability. Mooney and the Constar team use i-Design-which incorporates the company's CONSTruct™ advanced predictive engineering software-to quickly explore and identify new, tightly engineered packaging options for customers that leverage design, performance, materials usage, and costs. Currently, the i-Design "suite" addresses preforms, bottles, finite element analysis (FEA), and rendering, but is limited to more conservatively shaped containers. Next generations of i-Design will enable the creation of containers with more complex functionality.
Rather than limit its use to onsite projects, i-Design was specifically created to be user friendly and interactive with all CAD and analysis done behind the scenes on a separate server. It is accessible via the World Wide Web, using Internet Explorer as its interface, thus allowing packaging designers, engineers, and even sales representatives to spur ideation and product development at a customer's location. For more, visit www.constar.net.