Cad, Cam ... COM
There's some new tools for connectivity and commerce in the world of computer-aided design and manufacturing for packaging.
"WHAT'S NEW IN CAD/CAM?" I recently asked this question to Don Skenderian, the man in charge of the most widely used packaging CAD program in the universe. Expecting a more technically oriented, CAD-specific response, I was surprised to get an answer right out of our telecommuted, Internet-age lexicon. He said: "Connectivity."
Skenderian—and every other product development director I interviewed for this article—believes that the most important work going on in computer-assisted design and diemaking is collecting, collating, and communicating CAD data to other processes in the packaging arena. It's about digitizing diemaking, and closing an electronic loop around every last seam, tuck, and fold. And it's about extending and exploiting that loop for another big c-word: Commerce. CAD/CAM system developers are making the down-and-dirty construction work of packaging both sexy and sellable.
Mike Malcom, president and CEO of Atlanta-based Genline Systems Inc., is one of those developers. Genline, a division of Southeastern Die Co. until Malcom purchased it in 1991, sells productivity tools for packaging engineering and diemaking. According to Malcom, a recent audit of his business showed the company was making 30 percent of its revenues each from die shops, folding carton converters, and corrugated converters. The remaining ten percent come from rapidly expanding new segments like CPCs. "We've started selling into companies that want to use our products to increase their sales," he explains. "They're using our Impact software to show their customers 'dancing boxes.'"
Malcom says Impact CAD has a module to create animations that can be played in PowerPoint presentations. A typical animation might make a package go through a folding routine, have the product inserted into the package, close the package, and then present a simulated view through the front window of the package. "Then we can show how the package will actually look in the store. On the fly, we can take a digital picture of a Walmart aisle and put the package on the shelf next to a competitive product to see how it's going to stand out."