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Packaging & design

Cosmetics packaging: ERPRO opens new horizons with serial 3D printing

In 2017, the very first serial production of Chanel mascara brushes based on 3D printing opened up new possibilities for the cosmetics world. At the heart of this innovation, ERPRO Group managed to use their expertise to provide a large-scale production service and deliver 12 million units in a year and a half. As a complement to plastic injection, additive manufacturing offers several advantages in line with today’s major consumer trends. As an example,ERPRO 3D Factory, the Division dedicated to large-scale 3D manufacturing, has just announced a partnership with Albéa for developing customized cosmetics packaging solutions.

Cyrille Vue, founder and Director of ERPRO Group

Cyrille Vue, founder and Director of ERPRO Group

In many industrial sectors, 3D printing has gone beyond its original prototyping function to provide a new service: serial production. In the cosmetics industry, the example of Chanel mascara brusheshas redefined the codes, showing this technology has a bright future.

The first advantage is that there is no design limit. Since there is no stripping constraint, 3D-manufactured products can take on any shape and adapt to any application.

For Chanel, the idea was not to get involved in additive manufacturing because it is trendy, but because the brand’s main concern is the customer, i.e. the makeup result. Additive manufacturing offers much flexibility in terms of design, contrary to more conventional processes,” explains Cyrille Vue, founder and Director of ERPRO Group. “Instead of drawing a brush, we coded the application behaviour we wanted, and then the computer suggested various models. The parameter design offers incredible creation power,” adds the creator.

The manufacturer has just repeated the same process with a new partner, Albéa, who recently attended the Luxe Pack Monaco show to showcase different makeup applicator models and perfume bottle caps with surprising designs impossible to obtain with the injection technology.

Co-development is essential. Our working method requires sharing knowledge upstream and taking into account the functionalities expressed by our customer to imagine a highly differentiating product,” explains Cyrille Vue.

Also, additive manufacturing allows for customization. ERPRO already highlighted this feature in other sectors, in particular with headphone adaptors designed according to the customer’s ear shape: Myfit solutions. The production flexibility offered by 3D printing makes it possible to manufacture unique products in large quantities. Given the current customization trend in cosmetics packaging, this technology takes on its full meaning.

Lastly, it suits any type of raw materials. For mascara brushes just like any other applicator, the material used is based on biosourced castor oil. This ecoresponsible dimension adds to the many advantages of the technology.

A global leader on this segment, the French company achieves a 15-million-euro turnover with about 100 employees. ERPRO 3D Factory has just been endowed with an 11th production machine, an EOS P396.

Although it is not meant to replace conventional manufacturing, 3D printing involves a disruptive approach brands are much interested in. “Adopting additive manufacturing is choosing novelty and freedom. It offers avenues of exploration never investigated before,” says the Director, who promises several projects will soon be launched in the cosmetics industry.

Kristel Milet

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