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HP reduces packaging

A redesign at Hewlett-Packard cuts packaging components in half.

The laser printer is nestled in 59 pieces of protective packaging (top) and is equipped with a special molded foam ramp (bottom)
The laser printer is nestled in 59 pieces of protective packaging (top) and is equipped with a special molded foam ramp (bottom)

Last year, Hewlett-Packard worked with Tuscarora (New Brighton, PA) to design new protective packaging for the shipping of its large CLJ8550 color LaserJet printer. Old packaging incorporated the use of 130 pieces and a wooden pallet. The new design by Tuscarora only uses 59 pieces and a molded foam pallet. The new approach represents a 30% reduction in packaging weight.

The new package even includes molded foam ramps that let the proud owner of a new printer gently roll the new machine from its pallet and into its assigned place in the office.

“Everyone involved contributed creative ideas that we could use to improve the former design, manufacture the new package at a lower cost using various types of molded foam, and reduce assembly and labor costs,” says Peter Biancavilla, HP packaging program manager.

What it’s made of

The outer corrugated container is a two-piece design with a removable top cap to eliminate the need to cut the carton away from the product. Unloading instructions, using graphics, are printed on the top cap of the container. Inside the container is a die cut corrugated piece holding the molded foam ramps that allow the unit to roll out of the carton. These ramps can be pulled out, assembled, and fit into recesses in the molded foam pallet. The printer then rolls on wheels down the six-degree ramp to the customer’s floor. Hard masonite inserts in each ramp provide a smooth surface for the printer’s wheels.

“The key component of the whole package design is the pallet,” Biancavilla says. “A prototype tool was developed, and several densities of expandable polystyrene and Arcel® from Nova Chemical (Pittsburgh, PA) were molded for analysis and testing.”

The Arcel expanded foam was molded to create a pallet structure. Other materials were integrated into the foundation to provide the necessary functionality.

“Side shields made of masonite or hardboard were fit into the sides of the Arcel component to prevent forklift damage. Fabricated polypropylene foam blocks that nest into the molded foam base perform vertical cushioning of the product. Removable left and right decks using plywood and lumber material slide over and rest on top of the PE foam blocks. The whole pallet assembly is easily disassembled for recycling without using any tools. This easy disassembly feature supports HP’s environmental stewardship goals for recyclability,” Biancavilla says.

Solid fiber corner posts provide enough compression strength to stack the printers three high. Load spreaders, made of high-impact polystyrene material, are located between the posts and the pallet to prevent the corner posts from cutting into the foam.

Four EPS edge rails were engineered to fit the two different model configurations by rotating the rear pillars. The top of the unit is protected by a combination of corrugated paperboard and molded EPS. The die-cut outer corrugated wrap and cap are secured together using plastic box clips. “Box lugs” protrude from the sides of the Arcel pallet, interlocking onto the corrugated outer wrap.

All the package features have helped HP eliminate material and labor costs of banding for shipment. The entire concept accommodates both models with a change of only three parts.

Printers are assembled and packaged at a Tijuana, Mexico-based contract manufacturer. According to Biancavilla, the CLJ8550 printer project was a complete success in terms of reducing the cost of the packaging, simplifying the design, and meeting or exceeding product protection specifications.

“Current feedback is very positive,” he continues. “They are seeing less damage to the packaging than the old wooden pallet version. There seems to be fewer returns due to the packaging showing evidence of rough handling. Tuscarora demonstrated its internal capabilities could manage complicated multimaterial projects well.”


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