International Molded Fiber Association Applauds Student Design Pioneers

UW-Stout mechanical engineering student winner Gage Rusch (right) poses with IMFA Chairman Gary Visser (left) at IMFA’s 25th Annual Conference in Scottdale, Arizona. Image courtesy of International Molded Fiber Association.

The International Molded Fiber Association (IMFA) proudly spotlights the exceptional achievements of university students honored during IMFA’s 25th Annual Conference held in October in Scottsdale, AZ. Among the standout talents recognized were the winners of the Student Design category from the University of Wisconsin-Stout: Ethan Myers, a Packaging Senior specializing in Concept and Design; Gage Rusch, a Sophomore in Mechanical Engineering known for his expertise in Modeling and Rendering; and Lukas David, a Senior in Packaging renowned for his commitment to Sustainability and Design.

Their collaborative efforts yielded a groundbreaking transformation in packaging design for the BenQ Desk Lamp. The existing packaging, with dimensions of 24.61″ x 23.22″ x 8.66″, relied on Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) cushioning, resulting in a bulky box that consumed excessive space on store shelves and during transportation.

The student-led initiative instead leveraged molded pulp, marking a departure from the limitations posed by EPS. Their packaging, measuring a compact 21.375″ x 17.0625″ x 2.9375″, harnesses the potential of molded pulp, including its recyclability, aligning with eco-conscious preferences and providing a more sustainable alternative to traditional packaging materials.

Moreover, using molded pulp’s thinner profile facilitated a reimagining of product design previously unattainable with EPS. The multi-layer approach adopted by the students integrates thin arms and a base that can be stacked, optimizing space usage and introducing an innovative folding mechanism. This configuration enhances the lamp’s compact design and ensures secure packaging by tailoring different parts of the product to varying thicknesses, capitalizing on the unique attributes of molded pulp.

The students’ reimagined packaging design is approximately 78.3% smaller than the previous model. This dramatic size reduction translates to substantial space-saving advantages during shipping and storage, optimizing logistics and warehousing operations.

UW-Stout student design winners revolutionized the packaging for the BenQ Desk Lamp (shown below) by leveraging molded pulp, marking a departure from the limitations posed by EPS. Image courtesy of International Molded Fiber Association.

The packaging’s enhanced presentation adds an extra layer of protection for the lamp, positioning the base below to instill consumer confidence and offer an engaging product experience.

The shift to the student-designed packaging will significantly enhance cost efficiency and reduce shipping requirements to only three trucks instead of the previous ten while allowing stores to stock 4.6 times more products. Furthermore, molded pulp’s reduced size and nesting capability substantially curtails warehousing requirements, promising considerable cost savings and operational efficiency.

The student-led innovation embodies a forward-thinking approach, championing sustainability, functionality, and cost-effectiveness in product packaging. Their efforts establish new standards for eco-friendly and space-efficient designs, potentially revolutionizing the packaging industry.

Gary Visser, IMFA’s Board Chairman, said, “These student designs exemplify the transformative potential of molded pulp in packaging, presenting a sustainable and efficient solution that addresses both environmental concerns and economic considerations.”

For more information about the IMFA, its mission, and upcoming events, please visit

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