Substituting Plastic Bobbin for Gauze Roll with Paper Bobbin

In current practice, small bobbins or spools are often made from plastic
In current practice, small bobbins or spools are often made from plastic (see examples in Figure 1). This makes sense financially because small plastic bobbins (or their machined parts) can be made from injection molding process with little loss percentages relative to larger ones. Unfortunately, financial sense and environmental sense does not always go hand in hand. Hence, a company in the healthcare industry approached us for a paper-based substitution to the conventional plastic bobbin used for gauze roll (see an example in Figure 2). This company is based in Europe, and so there was a desire to make a transition to an eco-friendlier packaging due to compliance with stricter EU’s environmental policies.
Figure 1 Examples of small plastic bobbins (Disclaimer: a photo from Alibaba, not our customer or ours)
Figure 2 Example of a small plastic bobbin used as a packaging for a gauze roll (Disclaimer: a stock photo, not our customer or ours)
Upon receiving the request and meeting with this company, we recognized the immediate challenge that is the pricing issue. As mentioned earlier, small plastic bobbins can be mass-produced cheaply with the injection molding method. Therefore, the company that had been procuring cheap plastic bobbins in large quantities was not accustomed to the pricing of more labor-intensive packaging. The cost of a paper-based bobbin will be higher as there are three components in a paper bobbin: a paper core for a product to wrap around, supporting-boards to support a product from slipping, and caps to hold support-boards to a paper core. Each component will be manufactured separately and then assembled, thus incurring more costs during the production process. Particularly, we expect a cap for such a small paper bobbin to be relatively costly to mass-produce when compared to other components.

Given the situation, we decided to eliminate the costliest component: caps. Nevertheless, we did not feel that just merely attaching a paper core to standard supporting boards would provide sufficient rigidity. Hence, we tapped into our experience from other composite paper packaging products and came up with a solution that locks in place the paper core to the supporting boards. Admittedly, this approach does not offer a level of rigidity as high as one with caps, but it is better than just attaching to a paper core to supporting boards. Also, the samples provided to the requested company were reported to have sufficient rigidity when they were tested on the production line. Our solution offers a clean profile as shown in Figure 3 and 4 below.

Finally, as this paper bobbin is meant for an application for healthcare products, the suitability of raw materials must also be addressed. Fortunately, we carry papers and adhesives that are approved by the FDA of the United States as safe for non-direct contact packaging.

Figure 3 Prototype of paper bobbin for gauze roll by M.R.S. Kato

Figure 4 Prototypes of paper bobbin for gauze roll by M.R.S. Kato

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