Case Study

Thinking outside the box:
premium sustainable packaging redesign

Background

Duckworth & Kent is the leading manufacturer of titanium reusable ophthalmic surgical instruments.

In a competitive market filled with single-use and stainless-steel instruments, Duckworth & Kent continue to focus on high-end, precision-engineered titanium surgical instruments. Their products, crafted from high-grade titanium alloy, offer significant advantages: they are non-magnetic, non-corrosive, non-reflective, lightweight, durable, and, most importantly, reusable. Their strategy has proved to be beneficial as the MedTech sector increases its emphasis on sustainability.

To further reduce their carbon footprint and align with their eco-conscious mindset, Duckworth & Kent approached eg technology to reduce the amount of plastic used in their packaging, the only aspect of their devices that was single-use.

Packaging can fundamentally affect the user’s experience and perception of a product

Understanding the problem

The aim of this piece of work was to reduce the amount of plastic used in their packaging whilst optimising product protection for each consignment.

Despite being made from titanium, ophthalmic surgical instruments are very delicate and require careful packaging to protect their intricately designed tips during shipping. Previously, Duckworth & Kent achieved this by packing their instruments in a hard plastic outer case with a foam inner to provide cushioning; this was then enclosed in a cardboard box printed with the company branding and affixed with a label detailing the product information. Three different material families were used, one of which was not recyclable.

With a product range of more than 500 instruments, we were asked to devise a packaging solution which could cater for the entire product range.

Engineering the Solution

Successful projects grow from a clear understanding of requirements. We therefore started this programme by gaining a thorough understanding of the project objectives and requirements for the packaging trays. This included forming a clear picture of the various users of the packaging, from production-line staff through to the unpacker in the hospital, and consequently their interaction with each product. We found that the instruments were removed from the packaging before their first use, at which point the packaging was discarded. The instruments then lived within the hospital’s own cleaning and storage system. By understanding the product ecosystem, users and use cases, we generated a range of potential packaging approaches and designs.

Mind-mapping the process
98% of the Duckworth & Kent product range is now shipped in fully recyclable packaging

With a product range of more than 500 different instruments of varying shapes and sizes, our mechanical and industrial design engineers had to find a way of covering as much of the range, with as few variations of the tray, as possible. We worked closely with the client to determine which products dominated their volumes of sale and then designed solutions to the most common ten instrument families, as sorted by shape rather than clinical use. Through a combination of sketching and early-stage CAD, we developed a wide range of ways to locate the full range of instruments and then made prototypes for shipping tests. Following this, we liaised with the client to assess the best option, which was designed in detail for manufacturing.

Duxkworth and Kent Concept sketching

End Result

The prefered option was made entirely from folded card, which would represent the first fully recyclable packaging for Duckworth & Kent’s surgical instruments.

Packaging is often the last piece of a product development to be considered, but it can fundamentally affect the user’s experience and perception of a product. By applying user-centred design principles to this development, we were able to develop a single-material packaging for Duckworth & Kent, which is easy for staff to use when preparing orders, allows easy adaptation for new instrument designs and is easy to recycle for the end user. The client has also reported that the shipping performance of the new cardboard packaging was found to be superior to that of the original plastic packaging.

Since rolling out the new design, 98% of the Duckworth & Kent product range is shipped in fully recyclable packaging, which has significantly amplified the eco-friendliness of their operations and has contributed to a reduced carbon footprint. All of their cardboard packaging is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, meaning it meets the ‘gold standard’ for ethical production. The wood is harvested from forests that are responsibly managed, socially beneficial, environmentally conscious, and economically viable.

Duckworth & Kent ophthalmic tool

It was a real pleasure working with the engineers at eg technology. Their work inspired and enabled us to develop fully recyclable packaging solutions for 98% of our diverse range of instruments, exceeding not only our own expectations but also delighting our global customer base.

Eoin HenryDigital Marketing & IT Supervisor | Duckworth & Kent

Our creative thinking has allowed Duckworth & Kent to transition from non-recyclable, plastic packaging to a much more sustainable solution, further bolstering their positioning as the provider of environmentally sustainable ophthalmic instruments

Danny GodfreyDirector & Co-Founder | eg technology

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For further information on how eg technology can support in getting your technology or ideas to market or to chat with one of the eg team about your product design and development requirements, please get in touch.

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Further examples of our work in MedTech

Every project we work on is tailored to the needs of our clients. This extends to their privacy requirements and as such this selection of case studies includes those which our clients are happy for us to share. For more information, please get in touch.