Graham Packaging Co. is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture, and sale of blow-moulded plastic containers for food and drinks, household products, cosmetics, and automotive lubricants. The company has 60 plants in North America, Europe, and Latin America, producing several billion containers per year.

Bottles designed using ArtCAM Pro and Delcam PowerShape

Designing these packages (often under intense time pressure) requires advanced CAD and engineering tools. Sheldon Yourist, GPC Manager of Global Design, has come up with a laptop-based system, built around Delcam’s PowerSHAPE, ArtCAM and CopyCAD software, to create new package ideas quickly – in customers’ offices using their data, labels and artwork.

"The software that we use can show packaging ideas and concepts on-screen, and lets us make changes as the customer looks on," said Mr. Yourist. "That capability is very important to GPC as we are being asked to be more creative and faster all the time. Our customers tell us that our competitors still cannot do most of the things we can do; sometimes not even in their own offices, let alone in the customer’s office."

Mr. Yourist noted that GPC has tried other specialized CAD software packages, but none were as easy to use. He commented, "In an evaluation, we gave a synopsis of our tolerances to everybody in the CAD business including all the big and costly players. Aside from Delcam, none of them could meet GPC’s needs."

"PowerSHAPE is fantastic for form manipulation," Mr. Yourist continued. "This comes into play in areas of the bottle such as thumb and finger grips, and label attachment surfaces. Changing details in the bottle designs is made easier than ever with the various surface manipulation tools. Changing the volume in a package design is also very quick and easy using the speed of PowerSHAPE," he explained.

A full design run-through demonstration takes only about 45 minutes. This includes building a bottle and scaling to a particular volume constraint. With ArtCAM and PowerShape, we can put lettering type logos on a package in just 10 to 15 minutes."

Texturing plays a big role in GPC’s package designs and for that Yourist uses the texturing feature in ArtCAM extensively. "Before we had ArtCAM, grip surfaces were either chemically etched or hand sculpted into prototype moulds," Mr. Yourist said. "The etching process alone took many hours and we had to allow travel time since this task went to outside firms. Now ArtCAM textured surfaces can be merged in minutes with the use of CopyCAD."