3D printing is rapidly evolving as a revolutionary additive manufacturing technique. Given its advantages like increased speed, better accuracy, faster time-to-market, customization abilities, etc., many industries are choosing 3D printing as a strong alternative to traditional manufacturing processes and solutions.
Like other industries, 3D printing is also advancing in the fiber-based sustainable packaging sector. Companies like HP are on a mission to disrupt the $10 billion fiber-based sustainable packaging sector with new customers, and enhanced partner ecosystem, and platform momentum. Global brands have pledged to develop more sustainable packaging options in response to increased consumer demands. HP strives to replace over 150 million tonnes of single-use plastics produced each year with 100% plastic-free fiber-based packaging.
Providing Astute Solutions
Consumer preferences are changing, and their buying habits are skewing their brand loyalty. The molded fiber sector is currently slow, labor-intensive, and lacks customization. Existing fiber-based packaging is often more expensive than plastic packaging, restricting its use. Consumer buying decisions are increasingly influenced by highly tailored customization and sustainability, which the manufacturing business must keep in mind.
HP’s initial step was to introduce the Molded Fiber Tooling Solution, which combines advanced software, data-driven workflows, designs, and 3D printed meshes and tools to enable customized fiber-based products to be brought to market faster and at a lower cost.
The acquisition of Choose Packaging earlier this year was the next stage in HP’s strategy to support brands on their journey to more sustainable packaging while also advancing the company’s broader sustainability ambitions. HP is currently striving to mass-produce 100 percent plastic-free bottles with the affordability and ease required to accelerate adoption by major consumer brands around the world.
Hand in Hand with Customers
When it comes to consumer feedback and cooperation, HP is always on the lookout. The company strictly believes that customer feedback will help it grow and know its customers better. HP’s highly customizable molded fiber designs and 3D printing technologies are appreciated by customers. However, using 3D printing requires a mental and viewpoint change and a product structure that uses traditional methods requires a creative approach to be 3D printed. Reacting to the importance of customer feedback, Mariona Company (Global Head of Sustainable Packaging at HP) quotes, “We work closely with our customers throughout the product life cycle, from design to production, to ensure that printed parts are translated into useable goods at the lowest possible cost.”
A Veteran Leading from the Front
Mariona has played a vital part in HP’s success and prowess over the years. She began her career in banking before transitioning to sales, marketing, and product development in the United States and Europe. Mariona joined HP in 1999 with the goal of gaining international expertise and making an impact. Since then, she has been focused on disrupting the packaging sector. Working with an innovative technology like 3D printing has offered Mariona a lot of excitement and purpose. She is also assisting HP in meeting its objective of eliminating 75 percent of single-use plastic from its packaging by 2025, by reducing packaging, promoting sustainability, and participating in a more circular economy.
Mariona has learned throughout the course of her 20-year career that a leader makes or breaks the team. A leader must inspire and motivate others to achieve their goals. She aims to be a leader like this in HP’s sustainable packaging branch, which has grown over the years. The recent purchase of a Scottish-based team exemplifies the company’s growth. The flexibility of HP’s Scotland team blends well with the company’s world-class capabilities and knowledge. Moreover, the start-up culture has been outstanding in terms of unifying goals for business, technology, sustainability, and a values-oriented culture to develop sustainable packaging’s influence on a worldwide scale.
Trends to Look Out
There is no way for a business to consistently generate functioning and commercially viable products without quality and repeatability on the manufacturing floor. This is where manufacturers must increase their use of novel technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, which can make achieving commercial-level quality and consistency with 3D printing much easier. These technologies enable brands to reduce unnecessary weight and waste and localize production, all of which help to reduce carbon emissions. It also helps produce more environmentally friendly designs in some cases.
3D printing will usher in a new era of mass personalization that will disrupt a wide range of sectors, spur innovation, and create new value. Catering to the need of the hour, organizations are developing innovative supply chain risk mitigation measures. L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetics company, recently used HP’s Digital Manufacturing Network across its global supply chain to increase production flexibility, create innovative new packaging and customer experiences that are sustainable, and provide added agility in response to changes in consumer purchasing behaviors.
Anticipated 3D Printing Services
The ability to iterate and create more quickly with 3D printing checks all the boxes for long-term impact and competitive advantage. Every day, HP delivers solutions that modify industries and help companies bring biodegradable goods to market more quickly and effectively. Since its start over two years ago, HP’s molded fiber business has come a long way. It took a lot of hard work, experimentation, invention, and partnership with customers to develop the tools for success and make ongoing changes.
HP expects further adoption for mass-scale manufacturing to take root as customers communicate the benefits of quality, speed, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness they are getting with HP molded fiber tooling. The company is now offering brands the opportunity to disrupt their packaging with its paper bottle technology. In the near and long term, its focus will be on further developing the product and working closely with brands on the requirements essential for mass commercialization. Currently, HP is working on solutions for food, beverages, cosmetics, and dairy goods with several significant companies.
Beneficial Lead in the Future
As the industry continues to speed up automation for 3D printing, the technology will no longer be limited to true innovators or large brands to fund the transformation of their manufacturing floors. Companies will experience greater volumes of printed parts compared to those that are conventionally made, thanks to networks of large contract manufacturers, production partners, and service bureaus at the forefront of these innovations. New and innovative applications will arise that are not only hyper customized but also better for the environment, allowing more businesses and consumers to reap the benefits of 3D printing technology. HP is already up and running and has the platform ready to take the lead in the 3D printing industry.