Revolutionizing Packaging Design With Generative AI Automation


The introduction of multiple generative AI platforms over the past year has ushered in a new era for packaging designers and manufacturers. These platforms are poised to revolutionize conceptualization, versioning, and operational resilience in the packaging industry, as discussed by speakers at the IME East conferences this month.

Graphic designers, copywriters, executive directors—automation is reshaping roles across businesses

While the packaging industry has already embraced technology, the advent of generative AI promises to transform behind-the-scenes processes. OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which can respond to queries and generate content, has been continuously updated and made more accessible since its launch in late 2022. Leading companies like Google, Amazon, and cybersecurity firms are also investing heavily in generative AI development.

“Graphic designers, copywriters, executive directors—automation is reshaping roles across businesses,” observed Evelio Mattos, Creative Director of Packaging at IDP Direct and host of the Packaging Unboxd podcast. Currently, AI tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney are assisting packaging designers in significant ways.

For instance, Midjourney, a tool introduced in mid-2022 to generate images from text descriptions, expedites the creation of initial mockups, allowing clients to refine their desired packaging designs more efficiently. “The ability to swiftly generate different styles that can be refined, both for you and your client, is the superpower AI offers today,” Mattos emphasized during the IME East events. ChatGPT can also contribute by generating effective prompts, which can then be seamlessly integrated into Midjourney to achieve desired outcomes.

Some processes that would typically take weeks for humans to create renderings of comparable quality can now be achieved much faster. Designers can even use AI-generated sketches as a starting point for further enhancements, according to Gene Portnoy, Founder and Creative Director of the design agency Work and Company, who also discussed optimizing workflows with AI.

Due to Midjourney’s rapid evolution, Mattos noted that “the image quality has improved significantly in just a few weeks.” Considering the current state of technology, Portnoy encouraged imagining the advancements that may occur in the next two to three years.

Transforming Manufacturing with Generative AI

In a separate ChatGPT panel within the conferences’ advanced manufacturing program, industry leaders explored the potential applications of generative AI. As manufacturing sectors grapple with labor shortages and hiring challenges, documenting processes more comprehensively can be invaluable. By training ChatGPT on internal assets and allowing it to query a company’s documents, process documentation can be enhanced, enhancing workforce resilience and accelerating the onboarding of new employees.

Another approach to leverage AI and related technology involves digital twins—virtual models and simulations. These tools can optimize packaging lines and assess how recycled plastics may be integrated into products.

While many AI applications remain aspirational, machine learning applications are already making an impact today. For instance, machine learning-driven tools can ensure correct assembly, as mentioned by Rob States, a principal at Stress Engineering Services.

Having accurate inputs for models, whether related to materials, molding, color, or sterilization, is crucial for understanding their impact on product functionality.

Looking ahead, packaging development could incorporate automated tools that consider factors like cost, sustainability, and startup time to arrive at optimal packaging solutions. This approach can streamline development and reduce the need for post-launch adjustments, ultimately accelerating the entire process.