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Proto Labs 4PACK 'can' H20 Lid
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Proto Labs 4PACK 'can' H20
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Proto Labs 4PACK 'can' lid
General Manager Herr Friedhelm Nebel and his team founded 4PACK GmbH in 2007, after many years experience working in the field of product design and development. The company is currently focusing its creative energies on designing innovative products for the huge, global drinks-industry.
“Rapid prototyping is critical to the product development process,” explained Herr Nebel, “so, when we needed our first component parts, we searched the market for a suitable manufacturer, including visiting the Euromold Fair in Frankfurt am Main in 2007. That’s where we first heard about Proto Labs’ rapid prototyping services; we were quickly convinced that we had found the ideal partner.”
Proto Labs offers two services: Firstcut, which supplies CNC-milled prototypes, and Protomold, which supplies injection moulded plastic parts.
“We chose the Protomold service, because it particularly suited the design of the CrazyCan parts. The service is very easy to use: we simply upload our CAD models to Proto Labs’ server and, within a day, they send us a detailed, fully interactive, online-proposal called ProtoQuote, which includes an analysis of each part’s manufacturability. ProtoQuote automatically updates to reflect any requested changes to the design or quantity. This enables us to make modifications quickly and easily," said Nebel.
Nebel continued: “Producing components for the drinks industry is a serious business because the materials are subject to strict food and hygiene regulations. We are developing CrazyCan not just for the German market but also for the EU and USA markets, so we have had to make frequent modifications at the request of both the German BfR (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung) and the USA FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
“The materials we use must also be recyclable, which is why we use PET and PP. Depending on the material we use, we have had to modify our CrazyCan design several to take account of the pressure density of the cans. Throughout all this, Protomold has given us a real advantage in terms of their rapid response in delivering new prototypes and an attractive cost structure.”
The CrazyCan seal is a flat PET cap combined with a PET sleeve, which keeps the drinking brim of the can clean and hygienically sealed. “This reassures the consumer that they are drinking from a clean can,” said Nebel. “The consumer simply pulls off the CrazyCan seal using the specified flap. Then, they softly press the centre of the cap with a finger, which lowers the valve and degasses the can (for drinks containing CO2). By pressing the cap harder, they open the closure completely; a snapping mechanism keeps it open and fixed to the can. The drink is now ready for pouring or drinking straight from the can.
“When they have drunk enough, the consumer simply presses two fingers on the edge of the opened cap. This lifts the valve into its original position, closing the can securely with a reassuring popping sound. This makes the can leak proof – it also stops CO2 escaping, which keeps the drink fizzy. For ‘still’ drinks, a pre-tension in the closure system guarantees no leaks during use. Drinks containing CO2 simply strengthen this effect.”
Even if the CrazyCan meets all the manufacturers’ requirements, including single-handed opening and closing, safe drinking brim and overall functionality, it still has to gain consumer acceptance. That’s why 4PACK is conducting consumer tests on about 10,000 cans of various drinks, such as water, beer, energy drinks, ice-tea, and wine.
“If there are any consumer objections to the closure system,” says Herr Friedhelm, “we know that Proto Labs will be able to make the necessary modifications at short notice. They use their own facilities to make all the moulds, which means they are both quick and also cost effective. The manufacturing plant is near Birmingham, England, which means they can deliver on time and on budget. At all times, we talk to their German team in Mosbach, Baden-Württemberg.”
Overall, Nebel is very happy with his company’s cooperation with Proto Labs: “We’ve worked together over number of years and that really helps to build trust and mutual confidence.”