Custom packaging manufacturer Plastic Ingenuity has won the 2018 AmeriStar Award for Health & Beauty Aids packaging. Issued by the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IOPP), the annual AmeriStar Awards honor those who have made outstanding contributions to the packaging community through innovative design. Plastic Ingenuity’s EVO hearing-aid dial battery-package redesign was chosen as a winner based on its forward-thinking, consumer-friendly features.
Plastic Ingenuity undertook the redesign of Rayovac’s dial battery pack for Interton/AHS’ EVO hearing aids with the aim of improving consumer experience. The previous design for these circular-dial hearing-aid battery packages dated back to the mid-1990s, and had not been updated to accommodate the significant advancements in hearing-aid and battery design. For instance, the old design greatly limited the size of the tab that adheres to the batteries, making it challenging for users to remove. The need to enlarge this tab became one of the biggest driving forces behind the dial-packaging upgrade.
In addition to a larger tab, Plastic Ingenuity’s new package design incorporated an audible indexing feature that would allow for more intuitive dial rotation. The company created this new indexing feature by including dimples on the injection-molded dial; these dimples interact with a card structure containing die-cut holes. The team also ensured that the blister maintained a tight relationship with the injection-molded puck in order to generate enough indexing interference to allow for smooth, easy rotation.
These new design features have significantly improved the product’s ease. While the previous design had a smaller door that often made it difficult for consumers to pick out the batteries with their fingers, the new package allows for easy access. Now the packaging features a 3D contour trim that drops down a near-vertical sidewall, and two vertical gussets on the door imbue it with added stiffness. These structural improvements have made it easier for consumers to open the door in order to remove the batteries.
The new packaging also reflects several recent manufacturing advancements. Because the redesign involves plastic adhering to plastic, the packaging is much more robust and resistant than traditional cardstock, which often begins to wear down after several uses, preventing the tabs from properly securing. Using a plastic back, however, enables the consumer to perform this action repeatedly without risking damage to the tabs.
New marketing strategies are also reflected in the redesign, as the extended tab provides additional room for branding and logos. Plus, these longer stickers allow the consumer to remove the batteries more quickly — a crucial feature, as many hearing-aid consumers are older adults who may have dexterity or mobility limitations.
Plastic Ingenuity also ensured that the new EVO dial packaging was more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly than the original design. While the package itself is a common blister with battery-specific, injection-molded dials, each blister is used for four different battery sizes. Using the same blister for all batteries allows for significant savings on manufacturing tooling costs, as fewer unique tools are needed.
The package filling process is fully automated, which helps to eliminate errors, ensure consistency, and cut down on labor expenditures. The Plastic Ingenuity team fills the EVO dial pack on a production line, trims it on existing matched-metal trim presses, and runs it on existing thermoforming equipment.
The new packaging also helps to reduce waste. The Plastic Ingenuity team performs coring on the injection-molded dial to reduce the amount of material used, and utilizes reusable boxes to transport the packages — minimizing the amount of cardboard waste produced.
“The team at Plastic Ingenuity is thrilled to have won the prestigious AmeriStar Award for Health & Beauty Aids packaging, and we’re proud to be serving the needs of today’s hearing-impaired consumers. As modern technology continues to evolve, we’ll be keeping our eyes on today’s diverse packaging needs, aiming to create innovative designs that are user-friendly, Earth-friendly, and wallet-friendly,” said Plastic Ingenuity Marketing Director Rob Helmke.