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ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING Bringing design accuracy to healthcare products

Jul 8, 2020

GSK Consumer Healthcare has always tried to be on the forefront in trying to provide its consumers with products that are visually attractive and attention grabbing. Until 2011, they relied on outsourcing the product packaging projects, which were long, tedious and had confidentiality issues. For this, GSK turned to DesignTech Systems, a leading CAD/CAE service provider in India, catering to every sector right from aerospace & defence to power & energy, to bring in an in-house solution that was rapid, accurate and saves cost. The case study evaluates how the Stratasys J750 3D printer, a solution suggested by DesignTech Systems, helped GSK to achieve maximum efficiency with accuracy while saving cost and confidentiality.

GSK Consumer Healthcare, an associate of GlaxoSmithKline plc, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, aims to provide everyday healthcare products that help people to do more, feel better and live longer. These products, which are sold in more than 150 countries, include household names like Boost, Crocin, ENO and Horlicks. Its office in India has won many awards in 2019, such as Brand of the Year, Best Sales and Operations Planning Practice in Pharma and Advancement of Women.

Good products deserve good designs

GSK leaves no stone unturned in its effort to provide better healthcare products and maintain its dominance in the market. Being an industry leader, GSK is fully aware of the importance of product packaging (colour, shape, aesthetics, etc), which can help grab the customer’s attention and build a personal connection. As a result, it was a priority for its design team to promptly respond to any changes in the market and come up with new packaging ideas that address those changes.

Before 2011, GSK used soft tooling to create prototypes for its packaging, which was outsourced due to absence of an internal team. Yet, the long prototyping process, made worse by multiple iterations, led to delays in delivery and cost escalations. Furthermore, outsourcing always carried a confidentiality risk, which was a headache for an international company. Frustrated by these issues, GSK decided to adopt new technologies, specifically 3D Printing, the star in Industry 4.0.

The requirements are high

While GSK needed the basic value that 3D Printing technologies typically provide, such as speed, accuracy and costsaving, they also had unique requirements. Because most of its products fell in the fast-moving consumer healthcare segment, GSK wanted its packaging to be aesthetically pleasing, recognisable and memorable. Consequently, when its engineers were looking for a professional 3D printer, they wanted something that could print multiple colours and multiple materials. Additionally, they needed to be able to print different levels of transparency.

With these special requirements in mind, GSK turned to DesignTech Systems. Headquartered in Pune, Maharashtra, DesignTech provides comprehensive Additive Manufacturing solutions, in addition to other services, and it has been ranked amongst NASCCOM’s Top 50 Emerging Companies in India. When approached by GSK, DesignTech immediately proposed the Stratasys® J750 3D printer and Stratasys flagship PolyJet system. The J750 can deliver unrivalled aesthetic performance, including true, fuII-colour capability with texture mapping and colour gradients. As the first Pantone Validated 3D printer, the J750 can print over 500,000 colours and the materials cover a wide range of shore values and transparencies. It also promises prototypes that look, feel and operate like the real thing.

Together, GSK and DesignTech tried out the J750 using it to 3D print multi-coloured bottle lids, sachets and toothbrushes with multi-coloured bristles. The parts exhibited breath-taking accuracy, and the J750 also delivered a convincing transmittance percentage for GSPG bottles. After the teams from both companies had analysed GSKs current and future requirements for product packaging, GSK decided to purchase the Stratasys J750 3D printer. “The Stratasys J750 3D printer delivers aesthetically appealing components with full functionality. We can now quickly print multi-colour, multi-material, transparent and opaque packaging prototypes that help us deliberate and make quicker decisions about our launch strategies,” mentioned Sanil Prasad, Head Packaging, GSK.

Streamlining the process and everything else

With continuous support from DesignTech, GSK now 3D prints the packaging components of all its consumer healthcare products, such as bottles with various textures, coloured bottle labels with a transparent bottle body, tablets & tablet containers, caps, lids, jars, etc, with its new J750 3D printer.

The team has even successfully printed a bottle with exactly the same transparency as the original Horlicks bottle. And thanks to the part accuracy, different stakeholders at GSK (marketing, packaging, supply chain, etc) can now assess and finalise the packaging designs with ease and confidence. Amazed by the potential the J750 has to offer, the GSK team has since expanded the printer’s applications and printing prototypes to sample products from other divisions, such as oral health, pain relief, nutrition and digestive health.

The GSK team has been impressed by how the J750 has helped them save both time and money, and a project that used to take a whole month can now be completed within a day and a half. The Stratasys J750 3D printer delivers aesthetically appealing components with full functionality, stated Prasad. “We can now quickly print multi-colour and multi-material transparent and opaque packaging prototypes that help us deliberate and make quicker decisions about our launch strategies,” he added. Now with everything done in-house, there are no more worries about confidentiality. In addition, the consistently high-quality parts printed by the Stratasys J750 always passes the functional, thermal, tolerance and dimensional accuracy tests with ease.

Courtesy: DesignTech Systems

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