Bear packaging prototype

China based dairy business embraces 3D printing for packaging R&D.

Yili (Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Company Limited) is a leading China based dairy business engaged in the processing and manufacturing of milk products, including: ice cream, powdered milk, milk tea powder, sterilized and fresh milk. It is headquartered in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.

Creating Fresh Engaging Packaging – The Problem

As a widely recognized brand of dairy based products in China Yili needs to keep its packaging distinctive and ahead of its competition. As a consumer brand, its packaging needs to help it to stand out on the shelves and entice customers to purchase. As such the development of packaging ideas is a constant process, requiring continuous research and development (R&D). This constant R&D has a high cost to the business with the production of prototypes being costly in both time and money.

With packaging often made from formed plastic the production of prototypes was traditionally a long and manual process. Each prototype required a hand built mold and when changes were required to a design these took a great deal of time to implement. Often requiring a mold to be re-built from scratch. With new technology entering the industry which was significantly reducing the cost and the speed at which prototypes could be produced, Yili began to see rivals embracing this technology and knew that to keep up it needed to look at it’s options or risk being left behind. With this in mind, in 2014 it was decided that 3D printing was the solution and they began the process of selecting a supplier.

3D Printing – The Solution

Yili investigated a number of different 3D printing technologies, initially looking at rival jet based printers, but the risk of the nozzles on the printers jamming was too much for the team.

“The other two machines we looked at used jet heads to print. Though we were made promises, we were afraid of the nozzles jamming, becoming clogged, we didn’t want the downtime.”

With the EnvisionTEC 3SP technology there are no nozzles to jam as the printer uses patented 3SP laser technology. The print speed is very fast and highly accurate resulting in much better surface quality and less post print finishing. The build platform size on the Ultra 3SP is an ideal size for the food and packaging they are producing. The range of materials available suited the needs of the Yili team and the reduced supports on the prints compared to the nozzle based equivalents result in less material wastage. The printer was also easy to set up and more forgiving of their office conditions.

Moving Forward

Yili immediately saw the benefits from the investment in 3D printing. There were dramatic increases in the speed of its R&D process, following the removal of the manual elements involved in modifying or re-building sample molds. This in turn allowed the business to launch packaging faster and stay more competitive.

“Our product development cycle has been reduced greatly. Rectifying mistakes in the product is now much easier to achieve and more cost effective. 3D printing gives us a great time saving allowing us to get products into the market faster and ahead of our competitors. Our EnvisionTEC 3D printer plays an important role in our product development process.”

This added speed also resulted in tangible saving for the business:.

“3D Printing helps us to save costs in the product development process by removing the need to produce sample molds each time, which in turn reduces proofing costs. “

Why should consumer goods manufacturers choose EnvisionTEC?

EnvisionTEC’s range of 3D printers provide an unrivalled range of options for prototype manufacturing, including packaging. EnvisionTEC’s range allows businesses to speed up prototyping and stay competitive.

If you would like more information on EnvisionTEC’s range of 3D printers and materials. Plus find out more about how the solutions can help you with prototyping your products, get in touch using the form below:

Yili Logo
Yili 3SP

“The EnvisionTEC machine is very easy to use. The printing speed is very fast because of its 3SP technology, the supports required are less and easy to remove. The models printed have a highly smooth surface, it can even replace the functionality of the final product under some circumstances.”

Yili milk carton

“EnvisonTEC’s printers are reliable technology, they are user friendly and low cost. EnvisionTEC provides a library of very fine and durable materials. The envelope size on the Ultra 3SP is a good size and provides the ideal choice for the food and packaging industry.”

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