A new type of CD packaging on the market promises a lower cost, lightweight alternative to the jewel box. The CD Muffin is a pressure formed, one-sided polypropylene holder that incorporates an air pocket to protect the laser tracks. Richard Tucker, president of Hoosier Fiberglass Inc. in Terre Haute, Ind., said an inventor developed the idea but did not have the know-how or the money to get the product produced and to market.
Tucker improved the tooling and took over the project, which he said he now owns.
Tucker produces the Muffins using a roll-fed, continuous in-line process and 0.025-inch-thick polypropylene, 40 inches wide. The machine makes 49 Muffins at a time. Each Muffin contains six undercuts - three on the inner diameter of the hub and three on the outer diameter for a total of 294 undercuts per cycle - to lock the CD into place.
Tucker, who has been thermoforming for 40 years after starting out in the fiberglass industry, entered the CD Muffin in the SPE Thermoforming Division's parts contest at its recent meeting. However, it did not win any awards.
``I talked to the SPE to see why this didn't win,'' he said, explaining the complications of pressure forming the Muffin.
``It's hard to handle polypropylene this wide - that's a big hurdle,'' said Tucker. ``And then to manage 294 undercuts also is very difficult.''
Tucker uses a match metal die to cut the Muffins, one row of seven at a time.
Although the CD Muffin is not a big seller yet, Tucker has managed to find some niche markets. He sells them on the music aftermarket along with carrying cases that can hold 10, 20, 40 or 100 CDs.
``The college kids like them and its easier than carrying around a lot of heavy jewel boxes,'' Tucker said.