Case StudiesIndustrial Additive ManufacturingSustainability

HP introduces advanced tooling for molded fiber packaging

An innovative and environmentally friendly packaging and production solution

In advance of the International Molded Fiber Association (IMFA) annual conference, the leading event for the molded fiber industry, HP unveiled an innovative and environmentally friendly tooling solution for molded fiber manufacturers. The solution includes the new HP Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling technology, which enables fast and enhanced design and fabrication of high-performance molded fiber tooling in as quickly as two weeks1 compared to four to six weeks experienced by customers using traditional methods2. Combined with HP’s new tooling production service, the end-to-end solution delivers greater production efficiencies via increased production uptime, reduced maintenance, and mass customization capabilities.

HP is partnering closely with industry leader Pulp Moulding Dies Inc. (PMD) to deliver the next-generation of durable, lighter, faster and easier to use tools. HP is also working with leading packaging solutions companies such as Veritiv, who works with customers from design concept to completion, to accelerate the adoption of more innovative and sustainable molded fiber packaging designs for customers across industries including food service, consumer product, medical and industrial markets.  Initial customers already using HP’s new solution for cutting edge molded fiber applications include Fiber Innovation, Pacific Pulp Molding Inc., Pulp Moulded Products Inc. (PMP), and Western Pulp Products Company.

“As businesses around the world, including HP, make the commitment to plastic-free packaging initiatives, the molded fiber industry is leading the way with its production of renewable, recycled and natural fiber for products and packaging,” said Mariona Company, Global Head of Molded Fiber Solutions, HP Inc. “HP operates with sustainable impact at the core of our business and we are proud to bring breakthrough HP innovation and world-class services to manufacturers of molded fiber products. Powerful design capabilities and the advanced production capabilities of our new HP solution are opening up entirely new packaging possibilities for the industry.”

molded fiber
Molded fiber packaging for HP’s desktop mini PC contributes to HP’s goal of eliminating 75% of single-use plastic packaging by 2025

Breakthrough solution unlocks value and sustainability

Also known as molded pulp, the material is typically made from recycled paperboard and/or newsprint, but can also be made from many plant cellulose fibers including bagasse, bamboo and wheat straw. Renewable molded fiber packaging products are biodegradable and recyclable and are currently used in handling and packaging thousands of products from food containers to the packaging of household items and electronics to single-use medical service items.

HP’s new Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling Solution eliminates the time consuming and intensive manual fabrication involved in the traditional molded fiber tooling manufacturing process. Leveraging proprietary HP innovations in digital manufacturing software and data intelligence, including a new digital design platform along with HP’s industry-leading, industrial 3D printing technology, the solution offers a digitally-designed experience enabling more efficient, optimized design and replacing the need for handcrafted screens, CNC machining, and manually drilled form tools.

In addition to the sustainable qualities of molded fiber packaging, HP’s tooling is made from vegetable castor oil, a 100% renewable raw material3.  HP also enables 70% reuse of surplus material in the production of its tools4.  The material’s strength and flexibility results in tools with optimal mechanical properties and consistent performance. Improvements in overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and enhanced flow in HP’s tooling solution will enable manufacturers to produce more parts using less fiber for more sustainable production processes.

HP has partnered closely with PMD, based in Ajax, Ontario, a leader in the molded fiber tooling industry for more than 40 years, to advance molded fiber tooling capabilities for PMD customers around the world producing a variety of packaging. PMD’s deep expertise in molded fiber tooling along with the advanced design, data, software, and production capabilities of HP’s digital manufacturing platform has led to advances in custom screens, previously impossible complex packaging geometries, and improvements in the overall dewatering process. Through its collaboration with HP, PMD has been able to produce molded fiber tools 10-20 times lighter than conventional tools.

molded fiber

“We’re all in with HP’s new solution,” said Troy Mutton, President, PMD. “We’ve used every machine and tool under the sun and they are all heavy, massive dinosaurs with major limitations compared to HP’s innovative 3D printing solution. I’ve been ready to take advantage of the time savings and unlimited design opportunities provided by 3D printing for more than two decades, but until now, no technology has met our needs for quality and consistency like we are seeing from HP. HP has delivered a true production technology that meets our needs and will help us continue to lead the industry.”

In addition to working with PMD and Veritiv, HP is enabling a variety of customers to optimize and manufacture entirely new molded fiber applications, including meeting the packaging needs of HP’s own Personal Systems business.

Fiber Innovation, a leader in the industry for more than 20 years, is producing molded fiber packaging for HP’s own Desktop Mini PC, a top-selling computer product, in their new high-volume manufacturing facility, improving productivity, saving time and reducing the investment required.

“Molded Fiber has been a good packaging solution for decades, yet the investment for traditional tools has remained very high,” said Jason Wu, Managing Director, Fiber Innovation. “Since using HP’s molded fiber tooling solution, we’ve experienced huge productivity gains within our manufacturing process. Our set-up process takes half the time, with half the people, and the screen is lightweight and so much easier to work with. The tools produced by HP have excellent surface finish, and are extremely efficient.”

molded fiber

Pacific Pulp Molding Inc., a leader in molded fiber packing for two decades with a focus on bottles, furniture, consumer electronics, and others across a wide variety of products and industries, is using HP’s solution for very challenging, complex tools. They are taking advantage of the amount of detail and resolution they can get from the screen as well as the customization capabilities enabling customers to add superior quality part numbers, logos, and recycling signs into the packaging. In addition, the HP solution has reduced the weight of their tools by approximately 80%, reducing wear and tear on the equipment and requiring only a single operator during tool set up and maintenance.

Pulp Moulded Products (PMP), a Canadian molded fiber company committed to sustainable packaging solutions for more than a decade, is also producing a variety of molded fiber products using HP’s solution including cucumber trays. The company is in growth mode and is taking advantage of the end-to-end services HP offers to simply send a design file and move forward with unprecedented speed – without the worry of adding additional overhead with employees or the installation of new hardware. They belive the lighter tools produced with HP’s solution will ultimately enable better parts, throughputs, and cost control in the plant.

Western Pulp Products Company, based in Corvallis, Oregon, has been manufacturing molded pulp products since 1958. Western is a leader in direct-to-consumer fulfillment shipping packages and is using HP’s solution to produce Vintner’s Choice wine shippers, which are manufactured from recycled paper helping wineries meet their environmental goals. HP’s solution is delivering Western better, cheaper, easier to use tools with faster lead times, and the HP tools are enabling the company to produce packaging as good as or superior to products created with traditional tools. In addition, the company appreciates the ease and flexibility of the screen swap process enabling very efficient, customizable capabilities for their customers.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst for leading US-firm SmarTech Analysis, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he Co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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