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How Dordan Designs Packaging for Thermoforming in 6 Steps

Posted by Chandler Slavin Nov 8, 2017 1:30:10 PM

Dordan is a full-service thermoform designer and manufacturer. Because we have complete control over the design and production of thermoformed packaging, our approach to package design is collaborative, leveraging our engineering, production, and quality control expertise.

What follows is a discussion of Dordan’s thermoform packaging developmental process in six steps, with special attention to the multi-departmental, collaborative foundation that all designs are built upon.

Step One: Understand the Customer’s Packaging Priorities and Requirements

The first step in Dordan’s thermoform package design process is the Account Manager ascertains all the project requirements and particulars from the customer. What is the primary function of the package?

Step Two: New Project Report

Next, the Account Manager communicates the packaging priorities to the Engineering Manager in the form of a new project report. Everything, from performance requirements to potential failure points, is included in the new project report. The physical product is provided, and if 3D files exist, so too are they. If there are other packaging components that correspond to the selling unit for which the thermoformed part is being designed for, like an insert/graphics card, shipping container/tote, etc., then these are also provided along with the new project report.

Step Three: Review Report

The Engineering Manager then reviews the new project report with the Account Manager, elucidating on the particulars and clarifying questions. Things like, “how is the package loaded?” or, “how is the package transported?” are discussed at this time so the Engineering Manager can understand the whole life cycle of the thermoformed part he is designing.

To Dordan’s Engineering Manager, the new project report is the fundamental building block of the package design. Without the correct fundamentals—which are communicated at this point—you can’t make the best design possible, based on the project requirements. Thus, Dordan’s Engineering Manager uses the new project report as the template to base all his package design decisions around.

Step Four: Design Review with Production

In the forth step of Dordan’s package developmental process, Dordan’s Engineering Manager meets with Dordan’s Production Manager. This is a design review to ensure that the package design will achieve the customer’s functional requirements while being easy to manufacture; and therefore, of high-quality production. At this point in the packaging developmental process areas of concern are addressed, and suggestions discussed. Dordan’s Engineering Manager explains, “We review the project and isolate areas of concern. We take a step back and consider other ways of designing the part to achieve the same function with the goal of reducing potential thermoforming issues.” Therefore, the design and production of thermoformed parts go hand-in-hand at Dordan: functional and manufacturable are the cornerstones of all of Dordan’s designs. Nothing is designed in a vacuum, but instead, designed with complete regard for the production process itself. Dordan’s packages are designed for thermoforming.

Step Five: Engineer the Design

At this point, Dordan’s Engineering Manager will either request more information from the Account Manager if variable unknowns still exist; or, begin engineering the thermoformed package to produce prototypes. The intent of the prototypes is to demonstrate part form and function. The Account Manager is then debriefed by the Engineering Manager on the functionality and design of the prototypes, and the prototypes are presented to the customer. If the prototypes meet the customer’s expectations, the package design is approved and the production tooling machined and assembled on-site at Dordan. If the prototype does not meet the customer’s expectations, the design is revised accordingly until it does.

Dordan also has the ability to produce photorealistic renderings of package designs before moving to prototype. These renderings are engineered 100% to spec, literally built around the physical products themselves. The renderings take into account all the requirements of thermoforming like draft, radiuses, material thickness, etc., and are therefore more than just pretty pictures; instead, they are thermoformable, functional images that demonstrate true shelf impact. Examples are included here:

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Above: Photorealistic rendering, without graphics card

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Above: Wire Frame of Rendering

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Above: Photorealistic rendering with partial graphics

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Above: Photorealistic rendering with generic graphics

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Step Six: Engineering, Production and Quality Control Design Review

Before a new package is produced, Dordan’s Engineering Manager meets with Dordan’s Production Manager and Dordan’s Quality Control Manager to discuss the important aspects of the package’s form and function that need to be verified and validated on the line to confirm specifications and performance requirements are met. Because Dordan is a custom thermoformer, each new project has its own set of requirements and specifications. Thus Dordan’s Engineering Manager, Production Manager, and Quality Control Manager hold a formal meeting whereby these custom sets of requirements are reviewed. Dordan’s Engineering Manager explains, “In the design process there may be customer requests that are critical and non-standard. These need to be communicated to quality control and checked during production to ensure said critical dimensions or functional attributes are being produced as intended.” Thus, the point of the meetings between engineering, production and quality control is to develop a game plan to allow for the production of the highest-quality parts that function in the best way possible, based on the specific project requirements.

At Dordan, packaging is designed and produced collaboratively. Beginning with sales and ending with quality control, Dordan knows how to produce consistently high-quality thermoformed parts and packaging through its multi-departmental, collaborative approach. Leveraging this expertise, Dordan designs packaging for thermoforming. This approach to thermoform design and production allows Dordan to provide custom thermoformed packaging solutions to an array of industries with varying needs and performance requirements.

Dordan has been designing and manufacturing custom thermoformed packaging for 55-years. We have the experience needed to produce high-quality thermoformed products and packaging that meet the expectations of our customers. Contact Dordan for your next packaging project for packaging that performs, on and off the line.

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