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Business in 3D: The emergence of 3D digital technology as a selling necessity

Business in 3D

The emergence of 3D digital technology as a selling necessity

It's no secret that Webpac Digital Media Group, the company behind Webpackaging, has a parallel product offering which is PackStudio3D. This full 3D solution is specifically geared toward packaging companies that want to offer a compelling client experience and provide all or part of their catalogue as customizable 3D models online. What you may not know is just how important 3D models are becoming or how swiftly the market need for them is progressing.

First and foremost, the need for online 3D packaging models is not synthetic, it's not something that Webpac decided to convince everyone to use. This actually happens a lot in modern business, where a company launches a product or service and then creates the need for it in the marketplace. Think about new iPhones every year or so or other devices that come into fashion. Social media networks are also a good example of this, they are the most indispensable modern digital offering that nobody knew they needed prior to using them. Now, they are relied upon by billions worldwide and are completely intrinsic to contemporary business, communication, and socializing.

This is slightly different from the state of 3D models, there is a clear market need for easier to use solutions. Customers seeking to do packaging runs often require a CAD mock-up to verify designs initially and a physical sample to verify prior to engaging in manufacturing. The process requires a battalion of technicians using expensive and specialized software. The vocabulary is often different from the one most humans use, including esoteric phrases like "we want a high poly feel with a low poly count" or "our printer doesn't deal with smoothing modifiers, but we can create that illusion by subdividing the mesh". What if non-techies were able to create a viable sample in 3D within minutes? What if sales people could go to a meeting and offer a tailored 3D model to clients, without having to take a two year online course in AutoCAD, TurboCAD, IronCAD, or anything similar? What would happen if clients could go to a packaging website, customize a model, and then forward their design to a sales person with a note saying, "Give us 100,000 of these"?

This is the direction packaging selling is moving toward. Physical samples are still needed to verify the proper weight, compatibility, and quality of the packaging, but lead times including design can be cut down drastically. Rather than depend upon a highly technical process that takes weeks to go through and several iterations, a piece of packaging can be generated, decorated, and requested within minutes. Even factoring in the necessity of a sample, the process is brought down to days. Bespoke packaging, a huge industry in itself, is slightly different but can follow the same paradigm. By customizing a product online, clients are more apt to say "We want something like this but with the following changes". The level of quality of the packaging has also risen steadily and is a point of competition for many firms. High quality is expected by leading brands nowadays. With such a high standard of manufacturing across the board, the emphasis has changed to keeping in touch with consumer desires. Response time is therefore vital as the best product is partly the one that is also quickest to market. Cutting time spent in development is a key concern.

This is one of the reasons why Silgan Dispensing Systems has released its new 3D Design Lab. The 3D Design Lab allows customers to browse an online catalog of Silgan Dispensing Systems' products. It differs from traditional 2D catalogiues by allowing clients to interact with and customize a 3D model of the product online. Clients are able to upload their own artwork and experiment with all available design options in order to visualize the end product accurately.

A process can be completed quickly and efficiently which would have previously taken weeks. With little need for physical samples or rough estimates of how a product might look, the time it takes to go from design to final product is significantly reduced. The client has more flexibility as they can use the additional time to experiment with different designs or to move the products through the development process much faster.

FST Dispensers, an offshoot of the Fasten packaging company, also decided to avail themselves of emerging 3D technology. In fact, they were one of the first to do so online. The FST 3D Configurator is a unique achievement in offering site visitors a full view of their ideal packaging solution prior to protoyping.

Visitors to the page can match their preferred dispenser with a collar and bottle to see what their finished product will look like on the shelf. Colours and lighting can also be configured to ensure the model is as close as possible to a physical sample.

The latest firm to get in on the action is LageenTubes. The company has launched Pick-a-Pack, a powerful yet easy-to-use tool that can help brands design the best looking tube to support the marketing and logistic needs of their products. Customers can see exactly what their product will look like on the shelf and perfect all the details while still in the early design stage. With this online 3D design tool, brands can explore their creative ideas until finding an optimal tube.

Standard colours are offered, but users can also choose custom colours to match branding perfectly. Colouring and material options are independent so that tubes and caps can be adjusted separately. Users can even upload their own artwork, to emulate labels, hot-stamping, silk screening, and other decoration techniques.

No matter which way you look at it, 3D modelling that's easy to use permits both the technical and the non-technical to be able to define their own concepts and solutions quickly, simply, and virtually. By democratizing the process, Webpac is at the forefront of the technology explosion, offering packaging suppliers the ability to bin printed catalogues and enter a brave new 3D world.

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  • Modified 18 OCT 2017
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