FRESH Summit packaging project, 2022 event dates
In preparation for the inaugural Food, Packaging & Sustainability Summit hosted by the Sonoco FRESH initiative at Clemson University in late February, a cohort of packaging and graphics students led the design and production of a special “Surprises for the Summit” goody box for attendees. Products that captured the spirit of sustainability, including snacks, packaging materials and conference supplies were donated by sponsors (see below) for the first 100 registrations and neatly packaged in a customized goody box utilizing resources at Clemson University’s Sonoco Institute.
The team consisted of three Clemson students (Henry Lopez, B.S. Packaging Science; Maddie Risinger, B.S. Packaging Science; Dovie Jeffcoat, M.S. Graphic Communications) and two packaging mentors (Gary Brown, Clemson packaging alumnus; Todd Hansen, industry sponsor).
Students cut the corrugated packages on the Sonoco Institute’s Esko Kongsberg cutting table
Prototypes are staged and final packages assembled in the Sonoco Institute’s prototyping lab
The packages were printed at Clemson University’s PrintCon facility by graphics faculty and students
Sonoco Institute: Tell us about the production process!
- Maddie and I began by sketching out some concepts for the structural design of the package. We considered how the given food products would be placed, fitted, distributed, and presented. We thought it would be a nice way to showcase these products by making the package look like a pantry.
- After a few sketches, we narrowed down our options for the structural design. With advice from various mentors, we decided on the design and concept. The next step was to create the structure in ArtiosCAD.
- After the structure was designed in ArtiosCAD, we began cutting out it’s pieces on the Esko Kongsberg table in the prototyping lab. Our preliminary design had a few errors that needed to be fixed; however, through trial and error, we were able to come down to a design that we were happy with.
- It was later brought to our attention by a mentor that our design might not be feasible with the short amount of time we had to send out the boxes. So we got together again to create a much simpler design which was essentially a partition insert in a shipper with a few other inserts to protect the items inside.
- The redesign process was very similar to the beginning: trial and error until we were satisfied with the package, how the items fit, and how it would be presented.
- Bubble paper was ordered to use as void fill/decor inside the partitions of the box where the products sat. The juice and milk cartons were placed in poly bags to prevent any liquid from leaking into the box.
- Pictures and specifications of the new design were sent to the Sonoco FRESH team for approval to move onto graphics and pre-production.
Jeffcoat: From a graphics standpoint, I wanted the box to convey the Sonoco FRESH values with simple yet bold visuals, which grab the viewer’s attention upon opening. I also needed to design to our press limitations. We planned to print water-based ink direct-to-corrugate using a flexo press with no air dryers. This meant our ideal graphics would be two colors with minimal overlap between the colors.
Sonoco Institute: What were some of the sustainability measures you took into account?
Lopez: We were intentional with the minimal use of adhesive in this design. For example, the void fill inserts that support the vegetable cans are one-piece inserts that don’t require any adhesive. Although our can inserts do require some adhesive, we made sure to only use adhesive in areas of this package that we thought couldn’t be functional without it. During the prototyping stage, we fully used each sheet of corrugated board when cutting out new pieces and before moving on to a new sheet, saving us a lot of corrugated board material. Our use of corrugated board throughout the entire package was sustainable as well, as it is a fully recyclable material. Instead of traditional, plastic bubble wrap, we used bubble paper as void fill/decor which is recyclable.
(left to right) Gary Brown, Maddie Risinger, Henry Lopez
Sonoco Institute: What was your favorite part of the design?
Risinger: My favorite part of the design was the compartments we made for each of the sessions. However, the most extensive part that we worked on that was extremely important to the design and the stability during distribution was the insert for the cans. Without stabilizing the cans with the inserts, the box would not have held up during distribution.
Lopez: I really love the standing void fill inserts that supported the cans. They were one-piece inserts that were placed in the bottom of the can partitions so that the can inside of its own insert could sit on it to reach the height of the box. I think that it was a great idea to have these inserts placed in there so that those heavy cans didn’t move inside of the box. If those cans were allowed free movement, they could potentially damage the cans and the insides of the boxes. The design of that insert made it very sturdy and didn’t require any adhesive.
Sonoco Institute: What did you learn throughout this process?
Lopez: I learned that the design process is not very linear. Although I was aware of the trial and error aspect of the process, I was not familiar with the many moving pieces in designing a package. Things like material inventory, machine capabilities, labor availability, file formatting, and the trial and error part of production are all aspects of the process that require a lot of coordination, re-doing, scheduling, approvals, etc. I was exposed to a lot of these aspects during my co-op, but being a part of a small team that was crucial to this project put these issues at the forefront of my mind. I appreciate this opportunity to have had a lot of responsibility. I think the pressure pushed me to preform better and go the extra mile with the team to make things go smoothly. Students should get involved in these types of projects while they’re in the school setting, so that in the future, they are familiar with the process and all that goes into delivering a project.
Risinger: I learned how to brainstorm and prototype a design in a short period of time and execute the project in a timely manner. It is also extremely helpful to have multiple design inputs from various team members to brainstorm a strong design. We also learned as a team what was realistic for a design with the amount of time we had. While we had a beautiful design planned for the summit, we did not have enough time to completely create the design, so instead, we reevaluated the design and came up with something that, while it was not as complex, was still extremely clean and well thought-out.
Thank you, students, for all of your hard work and thank you to the following goody box sponsors!
Charter Next Generation
Kraft Heinz Company
South Carolina Department of Agriculture
South Carolina Department of Commerce
Next year’s event will take place March 30-April 1, 2022. Click here to learn more about Sonoco FRESH and subscribe on the home page for information on next year’s summit.