UW-Stout’s Packaging Lab in the Applied Arts building gives students hands-on training for their classroom objectives to further develop their knowledge on materials, package design and the packaging life cycle. Classes that focus heavily on using the lab include consumer, development, distribution, materials and packaging fundamentals.
Students complete several projects in the Packaging Lab. One project is the Paperboard Design Challenge. Students create a paperboard box to fit the challenge description. Examples of previous designs held a gaming console or a subscription box.
Students also design a POP (point of purchase) display to help market a product in stores. Students progress from designing a prototype to constructing their final product. Examples of past displays have showcased Oreos, Pringles, Ramen and video games. Caylie Duncanson and Kali Goodrich enjoy the challenging projects they undertake in the Packaging Lab.
“We’re living it as we learn,” Duncanson and Goodrich said. “Our hands-on experiences boost our confidence in our packaging skills.”
The lab has several areas. In the prototype area, students work on large workbenches and a Kongsberg sample-making table. Materials they work with are corrugate, paperboard, foam and plastics. In the machinery area, there is a simulated bottling line. Students use the simulated bottling line to fill and move the bottles on a conveyor through the capper and checkweigher to be boxed.
The lab also has a horizontal form fill, vertical flow wrapping, palletizing, cartoner, and a thermoforming machine. These machines help students understand how different materials and designs interact with the machinery, and how to troubleshoot when problems occur on a packaging line.
Labs connected to the Packaging Lab include the Dynamics Lab and the Material Testing Lab. In the Dynamics Lab, students test their packaging for strength and durability in varying environments and through simulated transportation methods. In the Materials Testing Lab, students are able to get a better understanding of the materials used in packaging by testing their properties based on burst strength, seal strength and tensile strength.
The Packaging Lab matches performance requirements for packaging industry standards.