5 Minutes with HP's Mariona Company

The future of branded packaging and technology

16 & 17 February 2022 | Hall 1 NEC Birmingham

5 Minutes with Mariona Company, HP’s Global Head of Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling Solution

For the past two years, Mariona Company, a Barcelona native who joined HP in 1999, has been focused on bringing new life to the packaging industry with the introduction of HP’s Advance Molded Fiber  Tooling business. The first-of-its-kind digital manufacturing technology is enabling more efficient and customizable tooling options and opening up new opportunities for manufacturers to offer innovative and sustainable packaging.

Prior to her current role, Mariona led business development and applications for HP’s global 3D printing and digital manufacturing business. She chats with us about the impact of COVID-19 on the molded fiber industry, which innovations she’s most excited for and where the industry has immense growth potential.

Q1: Why will molded fiber will be particularly relevant in 2021? How is the industry transforming?

This industry is absolutely booming. Most of the manufacturers I speak with are opening up new facilities just to keep up with demand right now, and this momentum is really the result of megatrends that COVID-19 accelerated. The first, of course, is sustainability. Sustainability requirements are increasing at every step of the value chain. The second is e-commerce because people simply are not shopping in the same ways they used to, so packaging must evolve as well.

Q2: How are changing consumer demands pushing the packaging industry to evolve? 

Rapidly changing consumer demands are redefining the packaging industry entirely, and that is the driving force behind why HP brought a new solution to the market. We all see customers today that go to the supermarket, and they avoid buying products that are in plastic. Many of us are those customers ourselves. We want a sustainable solution. Molded fiber is just that—a very widely recognized eco-friendly and biodegradable alternative. As an industry, we already have immense credibility in the sustainability space with consumers, and we want to continue to make progress. In order to contribute to make a better world and transition applications that today are made of plastic to Molded Fiber

Q3: What packaging innovations have you seen that excite you most?

I was employee number two on HP’s 3D printing team, so to say I’ve seen an unbelievable amount of innovation in the past several years is an understatement. But I am the most inspired that I have ever been in my whole career right now. With molded fiber, we are continuing to use digital manufacturing to do something that really matters and that will have a significant positive impact. I am very excited to see innovations around different industries. Molded Fiber was very well known in the egg carton industry but now you see new applications in the food and beverage space, consumer electronics, consumer applications and even in the medical space. All in all, I am seeing new development and innovations across every industry. On top of that, can you imagine how the packaging world and packaging play will change with all the e-commerce trend?

HP is actively working with more than 30 companies right now, collaborating on how to push the limits of what molded fiber is known for. It’s not enough to just make something more efficient, you have to make something that makes the lives of customers better. I’m most excited when I see new opportunities for us to achieve that.

HP is enabling customers to manufacture molded fiber applications which are challenging to produce using traditional tools, like this Wine Tray from Western Pulp. Data courtesy of Western Pulp Products Company.

HP’s new tooling solution enables more efficient, optimized, design and replaces the need for handcrafted screens and manually drilled form tools. Fata courtesy of HP.

Q4: Why did HP enter the molded fiber market?

HP’s molded fiber technology was born, like many things, from our own internal challenge. Our packaging division set a goal of eliminating 75% of single-use plastic by 2025, and that meant finding a better alternative. We achieved so much innovation in software and data and 3D printing, and we knew we could address this packaging goal. But we were being told molded fiber wasn’t an option because the lead times were eight weeks or more, which was too long for our needs. Ultimately, we created a new molded fiber solution ourselves and realized it was not only really fast (bringing lead times down to about two weeks), but it was also producing better quality parts that were better for the world. Sustainability is at the core of our business, so that really inspired us to bring this technology to the market.

Q5: What do you think the packaging industry can expect in the next 12 months?

In the next 12 months, we’re going to start seeing molded fiber parts that we’ve never seen before, because it simply was not possible to make them until now. More and more, data is going to be one of the major drivers helping manufacturers uncover ways to improve their value chain and influence packaging in a better way. The possibilities of this industry are endless.

 

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