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HP’s Molded Fiber Solutions Architect Explains the Sea Change We’ve Realized for Sustainable Packaging and What’s Next

June 3, 2021

John Briden, HP's Molded Fiber Solution Architect

John Briden, HP's Molded Fiber Solution Architect

When HP began laying the groundwork for its 2020 commitment to eliminate 75% of single-use plastic packaging from its operations by 20251, the company didn’t realize it already had the technology that could help accelerate this goal.

HP knew molded fiber packaging was a more sustainable answer, but with average lead times of 6-8 weeks and myriad other limitations, the existing options were like an unappealing medicine that had to be swallowed. There had to be a better way.

Luckily, John Briden, an 18-year HP veteran had already been developing a solution that could ease many of those pains. A mechanical engineer by training, with years of experience in product development, Briden had peripherally navigated the packaging world his whole career as the computing products he helped develop needed protection during shipment. When his familiarity with tooling and packaging eventually merged with his digital manufacturing expertise, the result was HP’s Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling Solution—and, subsequently, the most patent applications he’s filed in one area to date.  

HP: As sustainability requirements intensify across supply chains, manufacturers face a new benchmark for remaining competitive. Can you summarize how HP’s molded fiber solution gives users measurable advantages over traditional equipment?

When you look at the overall molded fiber process, HP’s solution offers optimizations at every single stage. Our digital workflow makes designing and customizing a tool easy and gives companies the freedom to iterate more and still get to production faster. Then there’s the fact that the tools themselves are significantly lighter. Customers tell us they notice a significant decrease in weight (>75%) over traditional tools. This creates obvious advantages for transportation, installation and even the life of the machinery they are run on. Maintenance is virtually eliminated because the tools are corrosion and calcification resistant and if/when the screens are replaced, that can be done by the operators in minutes while the tool is still in the machine. The molder benefits from the more efficient use of material, and the product itself is stronger as Innofibre’s first pass retention study documents. Innofibre’s research really underscores the fact that HP’s technology will give companies a long-term competitive advantage. 


HP: What have been the most significant results of HP’s recent validation from Innofibre, and what does the data suggest about the future of this technology?

One of the most impactful results of Innofibre’s independent research was the savings that can result from using HP’s molded fiber solution.  HP’s digitally designed tools enable better, more-controlled retention of long fibers, which allow parts to be produced with significantly less fiber than a part molded with traditional tooling while achieving the same part strength. Using less fiber means shorter cycle times. Plus, less water will remain in the molded pulp part, which results in additional savings of time and fuel in the drying of the parts. Innofibre’s testing validated that HP’s tooling solution that covers a high percent-open-area form with a digitally designed screen can more efficiently make better parts faster than traditional 50-mesh tooling. Bringing such efficiencies to the molded fiber industry is just the beginning of HP’s journey. Looking to the future, we are focused on continuing to improve the technology and adding even more features that are unheard of today.

Molded fiber packaging for HP's Desktop Mini was produced using molded fiber tools also produced by HP.

Molded fiber packaging for HP's Desktop Mini was produced using molded fiber tools also produced by HP.


HP: HP has been working with several customers and collaborators who are leaders in the packaging industry. What’s been the biggest game changer for them with HP’s new technology?

The response has been extremely positive. Many of them are eager to take advantage of the faster forming and better fiber retention I mentioned. And in a world where productivity and personalization are strategic differentiators, many companies are very impressed with the quality of our tools both in terms of the crisp definition that can be achieved and also the consistency of the parts produced across multiple tools.


HP: In addition to these bigger advantages HP’s technology offers over traditional tools, what’s a lesser-known or misunderstood barrier HP has confronted?

One common argument against molded fiber packaging is that it’s heavier than other lightweight but unsustainable packaging options. HP’s Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling Solution directly addresses and helps solve that disadvantage. We have proven that we can make stronger parts with less fiber which decreases weight. We can also use our digitally designed screens to more easily vary wall thickness and block-out areas to ensure that the amount of fiber used matches what’s needed without excess.  


HP: How is HP’s MF solution enabling entirely new design opportunities for companies, and where is the biggest untapped potential for this technology?

When we launched HP’s solution, we were able to offer superior quality and significant efficiency gains. Our technology has made new levels of customization possible that can, in turn, open new revenue streams for manufacturers. Just one example are embossed brand logos, textures, model numbers or traceability information, with the ability to place markings on horizontal and drafted surfaces with crisp legibility. Those benefits will always be at the core of what we’re offering, but we’re continuing to evolve and push the limits even further. For instance, our just-announced AdvancedPro Transfer Tool is opening up more possibilities for pulp products. As far as the potential this creates for manufacturers in the era of sustainability, well, the simple answer is that wherever we see single use 3-dimensional plastic parts, we should be looking to replace them with molded fiber. Of course, the food service industry presents a huge opportunity for transformation, but healthcare, cosmetics, electronics and more are also embracing pulp packaging. Over the next 1 to 5 years, this industry will be an epicenter of innovation in the race to reduce plastics. There’s no doubt about it.  

Media Contacts

Carlota Sánchez
HP Inc.