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A team of University of Wisconsin-Stout students has opened eyes in the U.S. and around the world by designing an innovative package for contact lenses.
The team, comprised of four packaging majors, will be honored Thursday in Beijing, China, with a third place in the WorldStar Student 2011 International Packaging Design Competition, sponsored by the World Packaging Organization.
Teams from China and South Africa took first and second, respectively. The contest drew 156 entries from 15 countries.
The team members, who couldn’t obtain necessary travel documents on short notice, are not able to attend the awards ceremony. All of them have graduated and are employed. Matt Sampson, of Centuria, is at Tilsner Carton in St. Paul; Kevin Byrne, of Eau Claire, is at Haworth in Holland, Mich.; Beth Mitchell, of Clintonville, is at J.M. Smucker in Orrville, Ohio; and Rachel Wisth, of Rubicon, is at PolyFirst Packaging in Hartford.
“We are very honored to be recognized at such a high level and to represent UW-Stout and the U.S. with this award,” said Wisth, team spokesperson. “This gives us a renewed confidence in ourselves and our abilities as packaging engineers and solidifies that hard work really does pay off.”
Their design, Contact Stack, takes contact lense packaging in a new direction — vertical. They created a slim tube that holds seven pair of contacts. Each pair is in an hourglass-shaped container that slides into the tube.
One goal of the team was to make it easy to travel with a supply of contacts. Traditionally, lenses come in small boxes and are stored side-by-side in pairs.
“Our package design awakens a category that hasn’t been touched in a while. We focused on making a product/package that combines all of the needed contact supplies (lens, case, solution) into a travel-friendly unit. It’s perfect for on-the-go situations,” Wisth said.
The design has other features:
• By holding seven pair and solution, the tube has everything a lense-wearer needs for a week.
• The tube, 7 inches long, is small enough to fit in a pocket or purse.
• The package conforms to U.S. travel guidelines as an airplane carry-on item.
• Used lenses can be put back in the tube through a bottom opening, pushing unused lenses to the top.
• The tube is made from recyclable materials.
Contact Stack was designed in the Packaging Development class taught by Assistant Professor Robert Meisner. “I think the design did well because it has such far-reaching implications for a huge portion of the population. A lot of people wear contact lenses,” Meisner said.
The design process involved many steps: researching products on the market; conducting consumer surveys; testing materials; researching recyclability and sustainability aspects; creating graphics and point-of-purchase displays; and creating 3D computer models and prototypes.
Another UW-Stout team, Project Saucy, took 15th place in the WorldStar competition and earned a Certificate of Recognition with a redesign of the traditional pizza box.
In the spring, Project Saucy won the student category of the Institute of Packaging Professionals AmeriStar national packaging competition, considered North America’s most prestigious packaging contest. Contact Stack received an honorable mention in that contest.
UW-Stout had two of the top three U.S. entries in the WorldStar competition. This is the first year UW-Stout teams have entered WorldStar, Meisner said.
To see the top 14 designs, go to http://www.worldpackaging.org/worldstar-student-award/pdfs/worldstar-student-top-14-winners.pdf.
UW-Stout has one of the oldest packaging programs in the nation, with a long track record of nearly 100 percent job placement of its graduates. For more information, go to http://www.uwstout.edu/programs/bsp.