SIPA’s Elephant Bottle and 3D Printing Packaging

SIPA PET elephant bottle

SIPA’s new PET elephant bottle was designed in about two months, thanks to 3D printing packaging possibilities. But what does it mean for the industry?


SIPA rocked the industry with its new PET elephant-shaped bottle, designed and produced in just two months. With traditional prototyping processes, that would’ve been impossible ─ but that’s the thing: SIPA’s packaging development took advantage of new 3D printing processes, which cut the usual times in half.

The company, a division of Zoppas Industries, (with 20 years experience in plastics), had been keeping an eye on the 3D printing field for quite some time. As they themselves stated in an interview with Packaging Digest:

[quote style=”boxed”]“SIPA has been interested in 3D printing ever since the start of this type of technology. Only since 2012, the team began seriously searching for a 3D printer with specific characteristics for the 3D printing of bottles.”[/quote]

Once acquired, the development packaging process started to take place:

[quote style=”boxed”]“The dimensions and complexity of the bottle shape as well as its transparency were the main features considered. (…) Also considered was the work to be done on the printed bottle.

Several examples of 3D prints of a bottle were made with different printers using different polymers. Most polymers were colored and opaque. Advantages and disadvantages of every print were analyzed.”[/quote]

And that, precisely, is the main advantage of 3D printing over other ways of prototyping: versatility.

·d Printing Packaging Process

Right now, 3D printing in still mostly untapped in the packaging industry; it’s just a matter of time before industries realize what they’re failing to seize. Most leading packaging managers are already evangelizing 3D printing’s “tremendous value”. Javier de la Fuente, Ph.D. of Industrial Technology and Packaging at the Orfalea College of Business, outlined the importance of this technology in the design curricula:

[quote style=”boxed”]“We see tremendous value in this technology. It allows us to do design iteration very quickly. It’s important for us to expose students to 3D printing so they gain invaluable hands-on experience that can be used in their future industry positions.”[/quote]

And that’s what SIPA is both doing and promoting: education and experimentation:

[quote style=”boxed”]“Knowing the theoretical benefits, at this point a decision was made to start with an “entry-level/basic-version” printer that would provide a quality [commensurate] with the cost of the apparatus with the intention to acquire experience.The idea also with a simple printer was to investigate the complexity involved in printing various formats and shapes of bottles.”[/quote]

All in all, this new bottle could mean more than just a playful exercise in elephantic shapes. So far, much clapping is heard ─ but we’re waiting for the engine noise.


Sponsored by Derprosa, leading brand in biaxially oriented polypropylene films for packaging.