Task 1.1 - Background Technology - Review and compilation of prior art and patented technology
Task 1.2 - Product Specification - Compilation of detailed specification for the component elements and principle packaging targets.
Task 1.3 - Concept Models - Generation of concept models for prototype manufacturing cell, engineering design review, detailed design of favoured concept, chosen by Consortium
Task 1.4 - Operational Targets - Development of operational performance specification for each subsystem and the overall system
Task 4.1 - Lock Mechanism - Design of several locking models, Consortium driven review and selection of optimal solution. Production of solution through SLA and SLS
Task 4.2 - RF Tagging - Extensive review of state of the art security tagging systems in conjunction with successful moulding and tagging trials in polycarbonate, the current material of choice for the locking bar.
Task 5.1 - Integrate and Commission - Integration of all sub-systems to provide a fully integrated manufacturing cell.
Task 5.2 - System Development and Optimisation - Development of sub-system elements to enable rapid and reliable operation.
Task 6.1 - Industrial Validation - Establish reliable operating speed of the prototype system.
Traditional, high volume, manufacturing methods for pre-recorded media packaging have remained largely unchanged for over two decades, and plastic injection moulding still remains the principal manufacturing process. However, the growth in the use of video cassettes and CD ROM's for items such as corporate and product promotional information has seen the emergence of a customised, high quality packaging requirement with low batch sizes, where greater flexibility in the manufacturing process is required. There are more than 20,000 SME injection moulders and mould tool makers, in the EU. In common with all injection moulders involved in the packaging supply chains to the film industry, the Prime Proposer, Piper Media products, currently manufactures low-value standardised packaging products, including video library and CD cases. However, we have identified an urgent need for a new high volume manufacturing process, based on recent developments in digital printing of film, potentially able to supply images for a flexible, in-mould decoration, system able to manufacture high quality customised 'title card' images on packaging products, in small batches, to these growing markets, as well as incorporating additional security features. Current methods for customising moulded packaging cases for videos, primarily involves the use of a printed paper title card, inserted into a welded transparent sleeve. The relative simplicity of the production process makes it attractive to lower skill and labour cost areas. Despite increasing growth across the media packaging sector as a whole, European based manufacturers are suffering a steeply declining share of the 4Bn product, 750M ECU, European market as a consequence of Far Eastern imports being supplied at prices very close to the actual cost of manufacture in the EU. Such trends in the market, over the last few years, have forced several major suppliers to either close their moulding operations or seek alternative markets. However, the video manufacture and rental market suffers from two threats to it's profitability. The first relates to imports from increasingly sophisticated counterfeiting operations, outside the EU. Such operations use high quality colour photocopiers, to simply reproduce the printed paper title card. Industry figures from FaCT (Fight against Copyright Theft), suggest that only around l million of the potential 15 million counterfeit videos are actually detected and seized in Europe each year, leaving more than 14 million, undetected on the market. The second threat concerns the theft of pre-recorded product from display in the store itself. This has led to a lower utilisation of valuable display area floor space, by being to forced rack the products in a secure area, with only empty cases on display in the main store area. Whilst RF (radio frequency) security tagging has been trialed, it has been found to be unviable without a simple and compact means of inclusion and detachment from the product. European SME moulders could potentially regain significant market share from authorised and un-authorised producers outside the EU, if they could provide an added value package, at current price levels, that offered small batch 'title sleeve' customisation in a form that prevented the existing method of counterfeiting. The Core Group of Proposers, led by ourselves, Piper Media Products, a current supplier of packaging to the video market, also includes another moulder, a mould toolmaker and a specialist machinery supplier, each hoping to be involved in the manufacture of production equipment and the supply of product to media packaging supply chains. The proposed RTD is in response to the urgent industrial need to develop a more flexible manufacturing solution for improved media packaging, based on the existing injection moulding process, enabling European, SME moulders to regain market share and help reduce the level of counterfeiting
Funding SchemeCRS - Cooperative research contracts
CV34 6RW Warwick
6221 SH Maastricht
87 Athlone, Co. Westmeath
LE13 0PB Melton Mowbray - Leicestershire
M34 BOR Audenshaw - Manchester