Teams of corrugated packaging designers faced off last month during the 2011 Association of Independent Corrugated Converters' biennial Designer's Lab, where they had to construct a fully functional, eye-catching POP display within a 24-hour period. All of this year's winning entries used EskoArtwork ArtiosCAD software and Kongsberg XP 24 digital finishing tables to meet the fast and furious deadline, while conforming to specific parameters.
The biennial Designers' Lab and Independent Packaging Design Summit was held in connection with AICC's annual meeting October 26-28, 2011 in Salt Lake City, UT. The Summit, said Jim Nelson of the Great Lakes Packaging Company and the Chairman of the AICC Packaging Design Competition Committee, brings together designers from independent companies to network and share knowledge and experiences; provides an educational platform for designers to learn new techniques in both structural and graphic design from industry experts; and gives vendors the opportunity to provide hands-on experience with their tools.
AICC, which represents a majority of the independent corrugated packaging manufacturers and their suppliers, schedules the Designer's Lab and Summit every two years.
EskoArtwork co-sponsored the 2011 Designer Lab contest, which divided 25 designers from different companies into six teams; each team had a choice of CAD design station and cutting table along with a digital printer.
The teams were required to follow specific parameters and objectives presented by a "customer"--in this instance, the Sweet Candy Company of Salt Lake City, one of the oldest family-owned and operated candy companies in the U.S. With Richard Kay, president of Sweet Candy Company, dispensing the guidelines and a company logo, the teams were off and running. Each display had to withstand 500 lbs of taffy on one 40x48 standard pallet, have racks for bags and scoops, and ship assembled and loaded with 3-lb. taffy bags.
"Judges worked from the criteria sheet from Sweet Candy," said Nelson. "The test was based more on criteria and following the parameters than design. It had to be functional and work."
It was a race to the finish, as the six teams worked to construct a prototype that would typically take a few weeks to complete. The first, second and third place winners, along with the two teams receiving honorable mention, all relied on EskoArtwork's ArtiosCAD structural design software and Kongsberg tables to create their prototypes. Some teams, including the first-place winner, also used EskoArtwork Studio to help assist the graphics design process in Adobe Illustrator.
"The criteria was introduced late Wednesday afternoon, giving us 1-2 hours to work that day," explains Chris Butterfield, Design Department Manager for Capital Corrugated & Carton, one of the first place team members, along with Dave Lamb, Mid-Atlantic Packaging, John Madlock, Utah Paperbox and Yuttanna Chiaravalloti, Orange County Container Group. "We then came back Thursday, and worked from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, brainstorming ideas and quickly coming to a consensus. The ease of tools in ArtiosCAD let us pull it off."
Key to the team's success, which not only met the design parameters but also displayed high graphic appeal, was ArtiosCAD's ease of use, custom tools and style library -- which includes POP display standards and parametric design tools, along with its ability to render prototypes in 3D, ensuring the display would fold up correctly. Graphics were created in Adobe Illustrator and then applied to the structure via EskoArtwork's Studio software, which helps designers visualize artwork in 3D. Ultimately, two files were output; a structural file that was sent to the Kongsberg table for digital finishing and a PDF with the graphics that was delivered to a digital printer.
The Kongsberg machine's ability to deliver rapid-fire turnarounds and cut at maximum speed through a broad range of substrates, as well as its scope of quick creasing, cutting and crushing tools, was critical in helping the teams' meet the deadline.
"After listening to the objectives and the speakers, the designers have to try and incorporate what they learned," said Nelson. "The Lab allows them to work with designers from other companies with different knowledge, views and skill sets than their own. One designer with 20 years' experience might work with another with less than two years on the job. The more experienced designer brings years of working knowledge to the table, but the younger one might be more technically savvy. The whole point is that there is a crossover of different ideas from designers with varied backgrounds, and they learn from each other. They work as a team to develop ideas, and get a lot of satisfaction from knowing that they worked well as a team."