Sustainable Packaging With Virtual Twins

Each year, Amcor Rigid Plastics makes an estimated 20 billion containers, preforms and closures – but its environmental impacts are decreasing as its output grows. How? In part, Amcor executives point to their ability to perfect the company’s resin-saving packaging designs virtually, without producing physical prototypes for testing.

Since 2006, Amcor’s use of virtual twins has allowed the company to engineer strong, protective plastic bottles with less plastic, reducing its demand for PET resin by more than 100 million pounds annually despite increases in production. To achieve this, Amcor subjects virtual twins of its new designs to varying temperatures and humidities, weight loads, drop conditions and other performance tests in the computer – proving and perfecting performance without testing a single physical bottle. This virtual prototyping ability has helped Amcor develop designs that have reduced the weight of its bottles by 35% to 50%. By reducing weight, these designs also reduce the energy required to transport Amcor’s containers.

Amcor subjects its virtual twins to stress tests in the computer, eliminating the need to test physical bottles and allowing it to perfect designs before manufacturing. (Image © Amcor Rigid Plastics)

“Development of a thin-wall structure that is both flexible and strong is difficult enough on its own,” an Amcor spokesperson said. “But when you add in the need for continuous weight reduction it becomes a highly technical exercise of optimization. For instance, we realized a 30% weight savings for a hot-fill sports drink container after more than 60 [virtual twin] iterations. We could not have done [so many iterations] without simulation.”

By 2025, Amcor Rigid Plastics has pledged to develop all of its packaging to be recyclable or reusable and to significantly increase its use of recycled resin – only possible due to its use of virtual twin technology. Within its virtual twins, Amcor uses the unique properties of each recycled material to accurately simulate performance and predict cost. This enables the company to maintain quality despite a wide variety of raw materials.

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