Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Prototyping for packaging success

"RapidPro’s quick response and quality finish are the primary drivers for regularly selecting Simon and his team for these packaging projects. With timing and pressure so tight on this launch, we still undertook his advice on the FDM Beta model and it more than paid back its investment with the client." Michael Grima, Outerspace Design Group.

This innovative juice bottle design for the Heinz Golden Circle brand of chilled juice recently won a WorldStar packaging award - Beverage at the gala presentation ceremony in Croatia.

Submitted by Outerspace Design on the heels of the bottle’s commercial success; PCA, AIDA awards and Powerhouse Museum Collection piece,  this is the first entry, on behalf of the Australian Institute of Packaging, to achieve a WorldStar distinction in 44 years of the event history.

So how did this new innovative packaging come to fruition? 

Heinz wanted to grab consumers’ attention at the grocery store. In order to achieve this, Heinz Australia approached Outerspace Design to evolve their new Golden Circle (GC) chilled juice bottle range. And, of course, part of this redesign involved rapid prototyping technologies to test the new design for manufacturability and brand awareness, helping to streamline time to production.

The Project

The Outerspace team recognised this as an unusual opportunity to do something truly unique in a food category dominated by a sea of established brands competing largely on price.Of course the design had to be realistic – as a high volume product delivering good value to the consumer, any new bottle design must be sensitive to production costs including manufacturing, filling and capping as well as supply chain efficiencies, including packing and palletisation.


Better products require deeper insights. Outerspace has developed and refined a series of Strategic Innovation Tools to help get to the heart of a brand. Some of the tools utilised in the early research for the GC packaging project included:
  • Role Playing - Usage audit where the researcher and designer puts themselves in the consumer’s shoes to experience the entire product interaction process.
  • Direct Observation - a form of primary research where typical users are observed to discover how different consumers experience the product from start to finish.
  •  Behavioral Mapping - Documentation, analysis and explanation of the process to identify diverse interactions and behavioral adjustments surrounding the consumer experience. 

 GC Behavioural Mapping

Armed with these consumer interaction insights, the design team at Outerspace set out to develop concepts for a package design that would innovate in all these areas, while providing a strong visual shelf presence and branding opportunities.Using the information gathered through the trials, a diverse set of concepts were quickly drawn up and presented to the Heinz team. From these, a design was chosen and rapid prototypes were ordered.

Prototyping prior to tooling

Before entering into tooling which is a costly and precise part of manufacturing, two key prototypes were created to test aesthetics, functionality, manufacturability and tooling considerations.

Plaster prototype on right
The first prototype was primarily to establish the overall aesthetic of the bottle from the CAD. The timing was extremely tight and by choosing a plaster/epoxy prototype built using ZCorp technology, a quick form model was produced which was hollow, and capped to resemble the finished product. 

"We chose to move with Rapid Pro’s Plaster/Epoxy finish due to its durability and quick turnaround," says Michael Grima, Design Director - Structural Packaging at Outerspace. "This model assisted us in validating the form against the competitive set in real proportions but more importantly determine if the handle concept was functional. We used it for grip and handling tests and found that the handle required some level of modification to make it more comfortable in the hand. This model led to us altering the geometry on this area and opened discussion with both the manufacturer of the bottle as well as the filling plant."

After several rounds of refinement, a second prototype was requested, this time, a hollow model was needed to conduct filling and pouring tests. For these requirements FDM was the most suitable process. 

"In the past we would have considered the more fragile SLA process," says Michael; "However, RapidPro had made huge advancements in the finish they could achieve with FDM, so we were willing to test it on this model. The finish was far smooth and proved to be highly durable."

FDM prototype
The FDM prototype was then used for a dummy line trials to help determine change parts and impact on line speed. The manufacturer used the bottle for reference on troubleshooting potential issues in the blowing aspects of the form. From here the client was able to move far more confidentially as a group to pilot tooling.

The Result

Results speak for themselves: An award winning bottle that is beautifully sculpted unlike anything on the market.

design and develop medical, electronic and consumer products and structural packaging solutions from initial concept to reality using industrial design, product development and strategic planning. For more information or to contact Outerspace, click on their logo below. To read the full Outerspace design process case study, click here.

For information or advice on your next prototyping project, contact RapidPro, Australasian based solutions to all your prototyping needs.