Custom Protective Packaging


Atlas Molded Products is partnering with this client to develop new, custom-molded frame cap covers that will not damage windows.

One of the largest, most well-known privately held window and door manufacturers in the United States was founded in the early 1920s and has steadily grown market share ever since. Through countless iterations over nearly 100 years of innovation, this company has led the evolution of window manufacturing, moving from exclusively wood-built products to expand into windows and doors made from wood, fiberglass, and vinyl. Today, innovation remains a priority as this corporation continues to push the envelope on quality, durability, and product performance while striving to integrate efficiency and repeatable processes into everything they do.

Atlas Molded Products recently signed on to help this company assess and improve its product delivery processes by looking for ways to better the packaging used to encase windows and doors during transit. Finding ways to streamline routine material handling and packaging tasks to reduce labor, decrease the potential for transit-damaged products, and increase speed to market are small steps large brands must continually consider to retain their edge of premium quality at competitive prices.

Challenges

Identify the specific client challenges and construction objectives.

After generations of market evolution, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and delivering products to brand-licensed distributors across the United States, a few years ago this company started looking for ways to streamline quality assurance processes. Up until recently, they had been packaging their windows for shipment using foam frame corners, which were designed to fit snugly on each of the four corners of the window frame to protect it during transit. Problematically, the foam corners they were using were made using a hot wire cutter, which leaves a less-than-smooth finish on the foam surface. This rough abrasive outer surface can mar the windows and requires additional preparation in pack-out to prevent scuffed products from reaching customers.

Under the previous pack-out process, after the corners of each window were capped with foam covers, the entire assembly had to be shrink wrapped in plastic to prevent corner movement during transport. This time-consuming, manual step also required a substantial volume of purchased material that would be immediately disposed of once the window arrived at the installation location.

Solutions

Detail what Atlas did to solve those challenges and meet the client’s project objectives.

Atlas Molded Products is partnering with this client to develop new, custom-molded frame cap covers that will not damage windows and don’t require any secondary plastic wrap before shipping. In a six-month product development cycle, Atlas gathered specifics to create a custom molded polystyrene solution incorporating the precise configuration of the frame corner covers. These shape-molded pieces won’t require any secondary finishing or plastic wrap before shipping. Using custom tooling to shape mold the polystyrene into the finished form results in a completely smooth, uniform surface that will not mar window or door frames during transit.

Like many commercially shipped products, the entire payload and packaging assembly must be engineered to pass the International Safe Transit Association’s (ISTA) drop testing requirements. The ISTA is an international organization that establishes testing procedures and assesses the protective capacity of shipping materials over a series of performance and development tests. Established through controlled laboratory testing, the ISTA’s pass/fail results determine a packaged product’s ability to survive the rigors of transit. The ISTA’s testing procedures are based on four common shipping hazards including handling drops and impacts, transportation vibrations, stacking loads, and atmospheric conditions like temperature, humidity, and pressure.

Creating the custom tooling for any custom shape is an iterative process, often taking several months of trial-and-error research to develop the ideal solution. Atlas’s product production team spent considerable time with the client in their midwest manufacturing plant reviewing window and door configurations to understand variables in both product production and shipping. Custom foam frame cap prototypes were made from solid blocks of molded polystyrene using a five-axis milling machine to produce testing prototypes. Once the ideal prototype was determined and all required ISTA testing was completed, the prototype configuration was used to create the custom mold. The cost for an aluminim custom molding tool generally starts at about $20,000,so assuring absolute certainty before large-scale product production is imperative.

With the molded frame cap form established, custom modifications are also possible. This client's custom tooling includes their logo, the specific part number, and the universal polystyrene recycling symbol molded into the piece as part of the pre-production part approval process. The client supply chain needs will leverage Atlas’ high-volume production capabilities with anticipated production at approximately 200,000 frame corners in the first year of production with growth anticpated to approximately 400,000 corners in the second.

Atlas’ proximity to the client’s manufacturing facility also significantly reduces transportation allowing them to pick up the ready-to-use corners with their trucks rather than through commercial freight. To maintain a steady supply of materials, Atlas will stock parts to provide just-in-time service.

Conclusion

Summarize the overall solutions to client challenges to show why it matters to others.

Atlas Molded Products operates at the very edge of innovation in molded polystyrene products and production. We are dedicated to the power of possibility. Like this window and door manufacturer, many well-established corporate brands must continually improve processes, performance, and productivity in new ways to keep up with ever-changing market demands. Our team strives to think through any challenge in search of practical solutions to common problems. Molded polystyrene foam is a dynamic material with incredible attributes including durability, thermal properties, compressive strength, and recyclability, opening a universe of possibilities where Atlas Molded Products leads the way.

Protective Packaging Pieces edit