What goes into Developing Packaging?
Packaging development can be broken down into four key important elements:
- Requirements – what is a MUST for the package? These are items that must be present to make the package marketable, safe and effective.
- Wishes – A WISH is an item that might make the package better or more marketable, but is not a deal killer for further exploration and validation.
- Design Inputs — Requirements and Wishes can then be looked at to develop DESIGN INPUTS from which a design matrix can be developed. The design inputs are the basis for development. Examples of design inputs for packaging could include: size, shape, regulatory requirements and structure to protect product. These high level inputs must then be further refined to allow the designers to look at options. For example on size, “Must be square and 4” wide by 4” deep x 2” high to hold product.” On regulatory requirements a key design input for Child-Resistant packaging would be, “Must pass 16 CFR 1700.20 testing.”
- Design Outputs – There must be a DESIGN OUTPUT for every required design input on the design matrix. The output provides confirmation that the inputs have been met. One output for child-resistant cannabis packaging would be, “Passed 16 CFR 1700.20 testing.”
Marketing, engineering, and manufacturing teams must work closely together to carry out all of the steps noted above. From the design inputs, the design team begins to explore options for handling each of the design elements. Options can then turn into 3D printed prototypes to further explore form, fit, and function. Next, manufacturing becomes involved to explore manufacturability, materials and provide input on how to drive manufacturing efficiencies. Finally, manufacturing processes must be validated to control and monitor quality. A quality plan for for instance typically includes critical to quality dimensions (CTQ’s), aesthetic inspection and statistical sampling to insure quality throughout a manufacturing run.
Enter the Cannabis Industry:
Suddenly we have a new set of products that require child-resistant marijuana packaging. A Design Requirement (#1 above) is that the child-resistant testing must pass. There are a lot of wishes from the cannabis industry on how a package can fit and promote their product. Design inputs for shapes in 1970 were based on pills. Design inputs for the cannabis industry (flower, edibles, concentrates, vapes, salves, etc.) are not the same as they have been historically. Try squeezing a small, store bought, chocolate chip cookie in a medicine bottle. The cannabis industry is doing their best to use child-resistant packaging that exists today. But, packaging available today many times does not align with their ability to brand effectively. There is a need for differentiated packaging to promote shelf presence and brand awareness. Be on the lookout for new packaging designs spurred by the cannabis industry. Be sure your marijuana packaging supplier has carefully considered design inputs and has met outputs to promote quality and regulatory requirements.
Bill Ludlow, P.E.