Packaging design competitions get students working together in teams and give them insight into the different ways to solve a design problem. Many factors go into the design of a packaging product: protection of contents, ease of handling, sales appeal, graphic design, cost reduction, ingenuity, and sustainability.
In the 2013 48-Hour Repack Student Packaging Design Competition sponsored by the Institute of Packaging Professionals and industry partners, a Virginia Tech team tied for second place (note: the website incorrectly shows them as the third place winner). Pulling two late nights under intense deadline pressure, the winning Virginia Tech team created an elegantly compact squirt bottle for Refresh Mouthwash.
Team members Julia Rivlin of Fairfax, Va., Jamie Ackerman of Reisterstown, Md., and Sarah Applegate of Manahawkin, N.J., all industrial design majors minoring in packaging science who graduated from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies in May, and Andrew Corbin of Pennington, N.J., a senior majoring in wood science and forest products in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, were invited to present their winning entry at the WalMart Sustainable Packaging Expo May 7-8 in Rogers, Ark., where they learned how Walmart’s suppliers are changing packaging to lessen its environmental and economic impacts.
“We researched everything from the sustainable options on the market to existing functional and aesthetic mouthwash designs, as well as designs in different categories of products,” said Applegate. “We all did a rapid sketching session, analyzed our designs, and voted on which one we thought was the most practical, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing. Once we all agreed on a design concept, we started making a physical prototype and a 3-D computer rendering. Overall, this competition was a great experience for my whole team.”
“These students collaborated wonderfully to create a sustainable packaging model composed of eco-friendly bioplastic materials with a creative structural design, cost-saving production ideas, and a strategic marketing plan,” said Young Kim, assistant professor of packaging science and faculty advisor to student chapter of the Institute of Packaging Professionals. “This model can be immediately applied in the industry as a possible packaging solution.”
Other 48-Hour Repack entries from Virginia Tech include Churned, a butter package that offers convenient access to portioned butter slices, and Dress Me Up – Northern Elite (see video demonstration), a simplified method of packaging dress shirts.
48-Hour Repack was not the first win for a Virginia Tech team. At the 2012 Packaging Jamboree in Rochester, N.Y., wood science and forest products majors Patrick McCampbell, a sophomore from Newmarket, Va., and Michael Clifton, a junior from Gloucester, Va., competed in the final stage of the Pringles Chip Packaging Design Challenge known as the “Big Drop.” Although the Virginia Tech team technically came in second place, the competition was so close that the judges awarded McCampbell and Clifton Amazon Kindles, prizes originally intended for only the first-place team.