According to statistics culled from several federal and environmental agencies, approximately 46% of vehicles on U.S. roads leak hazardous fluids, including oil, transmission, hydraulic, and brake fluid, and antifreeze. To help vehicle owners quickly and inexpensively address this issue and avoid costly auto repairs, a number of consumer packaged goods companies offer commercial “stop-leak” products.
When Lake Forest, IL-based Prestone Products Corp. began developing its stop-leak line in 2014, it wanted to differentiate itself from the competition by offering a better-performing product with packaging that would provide a more positive user experience.
The concept behind Prestone’s patent-pending Triple Seal Protection Stop Leak family is the separation of the products’ active ingredients, which include effervescent beads, a liquid DuPont Kevlar resin, and a liquid acrylic polymer, in contrast to competitive products, which are premixed.
In order to keep the components separate until use and provide an intuitive and inviting experience for consumers, Prestone needed a custom package design that offered user convenience and shelf impact.
“This product is completely different from most traditional stop-leak solutions, which are premixed and packaged in opaque bottles,” says Thomas Kalagher, Marketing Product Manager, Prestone Performance Chemicals. “What we have seen with comparable products in other industries is the more that consumers interact with a product, the more confidence they have that it will work.”
Going into the package design for the Triple Seal Protection line, Kalagher had a concept in mind, but was unsure if it was achievable from a manufacturing standpoint. Working with TricorBraun’s Design & Innovation Group, Prestone was able to develop a functional, transparent, three-compartment package that delivers on all of Kalagher’s functional and aesthetic expectations.
A complex concept
Prestone’s Triple Seal Protection line comprises three products: Engine Block Stop Leak, Head Gasket Stop Leak, and Radiator Stop Leak. While each product has a slightly different formulation intended to address a different challenge, each one uses the same packaging design, with product dispensed in the same way. First the beads are added to the problem area, followed simultaneously by the two liquids.
As Kalagher explains, there are several advantages to keeping the product ingredients separate until point of use. “Adding the beads separately allows the product to activate as it is poured into the system,” he says. “Some products in the market today use beads that are submerged in oil. These beads do not dissolve quickly. Our beads are effervescent, so they begin to bubble and break down right away so they do not clog the system.
“Having the products separate also means that we can keep the acrylic hardener separate from the rest of the formula. Once in contact with the Kevlar and other leak-stopping ingredients, the acrylic hardener makes the seal permanent.”
The packaging design brief from Prestone envisioned a unified design that communicated to the consumer an all-in-one system while also providing storage for each of the ingredients in separate dosing chambers. Kalagher’s concept for the package was a clear bottle with a smaller, inner tube and a dosing chamber on top to house the beads. Transparency of the container was key, to enhance the consumer’s engagement with the product.
Says Kalagher, “We knew from the beginning how we wanted the packaging to look and work, but we needed TricorBraun’s design expertise to help us make the package manufacturable.”
Once TricorBraun confirmed the custom package could be created, Prestone’s next question was, “How long will it take?” As is the case for many CPGs introducing a new product, Prestone had a very short time to market. TricorBraun responded with a clearly defined timeline of how they would meet the targeted launch—a process that included the simultaneous development of four custom molds, including a new 16-oz PET production mold, in only eight weeks.
The final package consists of four components. The outer, transparent container is a 16-oz PET bottle, into which is placed a 3-oz fitment tube made of injection-molded clarified polypropylene. The tube appears blue, red, or grey, depending on the color of the product inside. A 3-oz clear, clarified PP canister with a 51-mm custom squeeze-and-turn closure sits on top of the primary container, and the entire construction is fitted with a clear PP lid that snaps on top.
The inner tube features a “wagon-wheel” openwork neck ring that mates with the primary bottle, allowing both liquids to pour simultaneously during application. Currier Plastics, Inc. manufactured all of the package components using molds designed by TricorBraun and built by its manufacturing partners.
The filled bottles are decorated with clear shrink-film labels printed in eight colors that carry both branding and use instructions for each product. The label includes two perforations: one down the side of the top canister and one around its base, allowing users to remove the canister. With a pinch and a turn, the cap of the top canister is removed for dispensing.
During product use, the consumer begins by adding the effervescent beads found in the top dosing chamber to the designated problem area. The next step is to pour the two separated liquid components simultaneously from the inner preform tube and from the outer container into the area. The resulting mixture seeks and finds the location of the leak and creates a web of fibers that binds to the metal around the leak, while an acrylic polymer hardens and secures the seal.
During the final design of the bottle, the complexity of the package and Prestone’s tight deadlines required TricorBraun and Prestone to collaborate closely to ensure that everything would work together, including running test bottles down a filling line to confirm the package’s stability and functionality.
Project meets expectations
Through the work of TricorBraun engineers, Prestone stakeholders, and a contract manufacturer to fill the complex package, Prestone was able to get to market in record time. “We have been extremely pleased with TricorBraun’s ability to work closely with us in timely fashion to complete this very complex project,” Kalagher says. “Designs were approved in January  and by April  we had our products on shelves.”
The Triple Seal Protection Stop Leak line originally launched in AutoZone stores nationwide, and will be rolled out in many auto retail and Walmart locations in April 2016. The products carry a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $9.99 to $19.99, depending on formulation.
“Initial sales have been great, and feedback from retail partners and consumers has been very positive,” Kalagher adds. “As a result, we are looking forward to showcasing this to additional outlets in the future.”
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