CAD/CAM and Its Impact on Modern Design

By Scott Fisher, Design Director - Consumer Packaging, Berry Global, Inc.

Scott Fisher, Design Director - Consumer Packaging, Berry Global, Inc.

CAD/CAM AND FIRST MOMENT OF TRUTH

Computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) can be utilized to provide early insight to the first moment of truth and consumer adoption of an idea. CAD/CAM quickly and effectively yields design deliverables in the format of visually compelling 3D renderings and full scale functional 3D printed models. 3D CAD modeling and rendering programs imitate a product design with a photo-realistic appearance by giving the designer or engineer full use of virtual photography tools, environments, materials, and finishes. Mapping color, clarity, and branded graphic labels within the rendering software add an even more realistic touch to a product that only exists in the virtual world, yet appears is it something more. CAM 3D printing yields physical samples driven by refined CAD that is intended to convey the desired aesthetic design intent of a promising concept as realistically as practical using substitute materials and processes representative of the production intent. Post fabrication finishing techniques by model specialists further elevate the final sample by providing surface treatments that represent the final product’s color, clarity, and decoration. 

These CAD/CAM deliverables are placed in the hands of consumers in the format of focus group studies and in-home use testing (IHUT) where insights are formed, feedback is constructed for design improvement, and purchase intent is analyzed.

IN-HOUSE RAPID PROTOTYPING REDUCES TIME TO MARKET

With the technology advancements of 3D printing and materials the modern age of rapid prototyping is a common step in the design and development process. With the cost effective availability of the technology more and more companies are bringing this capability in-house to significantly reduce time to market for new product launches.

At Berry Global’s internal packaging innovation studio, Blue Clover Studios, we strategically built a state-of-the-art rapid prototyping lab with various technologies staffed by dedicated prototyping specialists and model makers in order to support such a reduction in lead time. This allows us to bypass the RFQ process, set priorities, select the optimal fabrication process & material, set surface finish levels, maximize build platforms, and eliminate shipping lead time.

Material advancement has had a huge impact on rapid prototyping in the form of what type of deliverable can be achieved as we are no longer confined to only building product beautification models. We can now extend 3D printing to rapid bridge molds and fixtures in the form of heat resistant core and cavity components to expedite the approval process. 

This yields a more finalized deliverable by forming, blowing, and injecting commercial plastic resins such as polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and various other end use resins into the final form of a product design. In many cases we are able to provide product samples in a matter of hours using the intended commercial resin yielding a deliverable that can be be used for usability, stability, and shelf life testing.

A recent case study at Berry Global, Inc. has proven a lead time reduction of 18 weeks and a $20,000 savings during the iterative development stage of a new food service product line. This lead time reduction and cost savings was achieved through design and engineering collaboration usinginternal 3D printing technologies for quick turn and cost-effective iterations for a series of thermoform mold components during the prototype mold development and testing stage.

In the past a 3-4 day lead time for prototype models was considered quick-turn. However, today’s fast-paced world drives the first to market mentality, and the former lead times are no longer acceptable. In-house prototyping centers are key to reducing this lead time from days to hours. The ability to quickly place tangible models in project stakeholder’s hands allows for a more holistic examination of the true scale, function, and feel of a concept, something not possible in a 2D schematic deliverable. With in-house capabilities a design engineering staff can quickly analyze the cosmetic, functional, and ergonomic design elements that can’t be see on a PC monitor. Having the ability to fabricate a model quickly streamlines concept iterations and design reviews, while resulting in optimized product designs.

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