Today at the International Molded Fiber Association (IMFA) annual conference, the leading event for the molded fiber industry, HP showcased independently verified performance leadership, partners and customers driving entirely new packaging designs, and significant technology advancements for its recently introduced HP Advanced Molded Fiber Tooling Solution.

The HP Advanced Molded Fiber Tooling Soution is an innovative and environmentally-friendly solution for molded fiber manufacturers. Today, Innofibre, the industry’s leading expert on cellulosic product innovation, released new research data validating HP’s solution as a more productive, efficient option for molded fiber tooling compared with traditional woven wire tooling.  

“Based on our independent evaluation, HP’s Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling Solution offers greater precision, along with faster dewatering and drying times,” said Tarik Jabrane, NSERC Industrial Research Chair, Innofibre. “Compared to traditional molded fiber tooling, HP’s tools can be changed quickly and easily, with less maintenance and fewer stops in the workflow. The speed of iteration and ability to change tools enabled more customizable parts and ultimately provides a more cost effective option for the market.”

“We are proud our efforts to introduce a truly disruptive solution for the packaging industry have been validated by Innofibre’s research,” said Mariona Company, Global Head of Molded Fiber Solutions, HP Inc.  “Based on the data released by Innofibre, it is no surprise we are gaining traction with molded fiber manufacturers in Europe and the US as they look for innovative new tooling options to meet customer demand. This is just the beginning, we are committed to advancing our solution, helping the molded fiber industry grow and accelerating the transition from single use plastics to sustainable packaging.”

Market Leading Productivity and New Design Possibilities

Molded fiber, also known as molded pulp, is currently used in handling and packaging thousands of renewable products from food containers to packaging of household items and electronics to single-use medical service items.

Unveiled in September 2020, HP’s Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling technology enables fast and enhanced design and fabrication of high-performance molded fiber tooling in as quickly as two weeks[i] compared to four to six weeks experienced by customers using traditional methods[ii]. Combined with HP’s new tooling production service, the end-to-end solution yields increased production up time, reduced maintenance, and mass customization capabilities.

Key findings published by Innofibre confirm that the HP solution delivers a greater number of stronger parts more quickly than traditional tooling.

  • Improved fiber retention resulting in stronger parts: due to its excellent first pass pulp retention, especially of the longest fibers, HP tooling uses less fiber to make parts with greater strength than equal grammage parts from 50-mesh tooling.
  • Significant process efficiencies and cost reduction: due to its superior fiber retention, and faster forming, HP’s solution saves customers time and money – savings equivalent to avoiding having to discard every eleventh egg tray being produced into whitewater.
  • High quality personalized parts: HP digitally designed screens resist wrinkles so customers get parts with crisp edges and borders, and highly personalized, legible markings.

New Customers Embracing HP’s Solution Across Industries

Several new customers throughout Europe and the United States across industries including healthcare and electronics have begun using HP’s tooling solution. This builds on collaboration with existing customers including Fiber Innovation, Pacific Pulp, Pulp Moulded Products, and Western Pulp Products Company as well as partners such as PMD and Veritiv who are working on a variety of new designs.

  • Vernacare is a global leader of paper moulding products specializing in high quality single-use medical products committed to innovation. The company is looking to improve efficiency gains, accelerate turnaround times, and increase productivity with HP’s unique rapid screen replacement.

“Compared to traditional manufacturing, HP’s solution increases the speed from concept to execution, improves productivity efficiencies and machine volumes,” said Garry Partington, Research and Development Manager, Vernacare.

  • Polyco Healthline Group specializes in protection and hygiene products and services including disposable gloves, workwear and bags. Polyco has used molded pulp for more than two decades and its Thermofiber division develops non-medical molded pulp accessories. The company is working with HP to develop applications that reduce the amount of plastics used in the industry.
  • Eco Pulp is a Finland-based packaging producer that specializes in technical molded pulp inserts. They are currently using HP’s tooling solution to produce packaging for electronic devices.

“Thanks to HP we are increasing our production efficiencies. The middle screen is saving us a lot of time in the production process, it is light, easy to carry, making the process faster and more sustainable,” said Ari Henttonen, Managing Director, Eco Pulp.

New customers include Eco Pack, Enviropack, ERI Mexico, YFY Jupiter and many others exploring new use cases using HP tools. HP’s own business, one of the largest manufacturers of consumer tech products in the world, is leveraging the solution to help achieve its sustainability goals, including a commitment to eliminate 75% of single use plastic packaging by 2025.   

Technology Advancements Unlock New Value for Manufacturers

HP’s Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling Solution leverages proprietary HP innovations in digital manufacturing software and data intelligence along with HP’s industry-leading, industrial 3D printing technology to offer a more efficient, optimized digital design experience, replacing the need for handcrafted screens, CNC machining, and manually drilled form tools.

As a result of Innofibre’s research and work with partners including PMD, HP has quickly advanced its tooling capabilities, developing enhancements to optimize production processes and create more personalized solutions. These innovative advancements demonstrate HP’s commitment to open up entirely new design opportunities enabling projects that would be impossible using traditional methods due to complex geometries and shallow draft angles.

  • HP AdvancedPro Transfer Tool: a lightweight transfer tool providing an extra digitally designed screen on the transfer side for improved productivity and process efficiency by reducing forming cycle time and moisture content. The tool improves transfer-side smoothness and enables parts with low draft angles as well as custom markings on the transfer side.
  • HP FlowTec SmartScreen: custom screens algorithmically designed to fine tune slurry flow and improve molding performance for challenging geometries.

“We started to work with HP because my desire was to have a fluid dynamic approach to the tooling used for molded fiber products. I didn’t have sufficient knowledge of this approach and very few people in the Industry do,” said Jalal Kahn, Head of Design Pulp & Paper Products at Polyco Healthline. HP’s  FlowTec SmartScreen is a breakthrough tooling innovation thanks to which we can actually have a more predictable slurry behavior resulting in efficiency gains for molders.”

HP at IMFA Conference

HP will be present at the virtual IMFA annual conference from April 13-14, delivering a keynote address together with Eco Pulp, Polyco Healthline Group, and Vernacare. HP will also be delivering a technical session together with Innofibre and PMD, providing a deep dive into Innofibre’s research and HP’s technology advancements.

[i] Delivery as quickly as 2 weeks after HP receipt of design file, detailed specs, the tool design quotation approval, purchase order, and receipt of first payment. Shipping time not included.

[ii] Compared to traditional CNC and manual tooling processes as of June, 2020. Based on internal HP analysis and testing including expert interviews and a review of published market reports. 4-6 weeks average fabrication lead time when producing using CNC manufacturing.

Written by Kevin Gambrill

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