Discover The Black Innovators Who Changed The Packaging Industry

Estimated reading time: 3 min
Black History Month Design

To celebrate Black History Month, we are shining a light on the black innovative, expert, inventors who helped evolve the packaging industry over the years. From groundbreaking technology to creations at the heart of everything we do, their work in the past fundamentally reshaped our present. 

Frederick McKinley Jones 

 Frederick McKinley Jones was an inventor, entrepreneur and winner of the US National Medal of Technology. In 1938, Jones was tasked with designing a refrigeration unit for trucks. He succeeded and created portable air-cooling units that could be installed in trucks to prevent perishable items from being spoiled. The foundation of this technology is the basis for the trucks that travel thousands of miles across roads today, carrying an assortment of goods. The cooling units Jones designed were particularly vital during World War II as they were used to carry food, medicine, and blood to army hospitals as well as open battlefields. The final models became a commercial standard worldwide. 

Gladys West 

At Tinware our suppliers and delivery drivers use GPS to keep track of your packaging. This helps guarantee all items arrive on time and ensures that products are not lost during the logistics process. The development of GPS technology was possible, partially due to the life work of Gladys May West. West contributed to both the mathematical modelling of the shape of the earth and work on satellite geodesy models. She was inducted into the United States Air Force Hall of Fame in 2018. Her work has impacted the packaging industry and the world, for decades. In 2021, West received the Prince Philip Medal, the highest honour of the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering. 

George Washington Carver 

Printing is fundamental to everything we do in the world of packaging. Whether it’s printing designs on bespoke packaging or creating shipping labels, it’s a vital piece of the puzzle. George Washington Carver was an American agricultural scientist who helped poor farmers grow a wider variety of crops including peanuts.  He also invented printer ink as one of the many ways devised to make legumes profitable. To this day the majority of oil-based printer inks are made from soybean oil or linseed. 

James Parsons Jr.

Packaging can be made from a wide variety of materials including metals such as stainless steel. Stainless steel is a fantastic material for packaging because it is noncorrosive, tough, durable, and keeps products safe. Similar to other metal materials it also has a high recycling rate. James A. Parsons Jr. was an inventor and scientist who researched rustic metals and iron alloys. His work directly led to the development of stainless steel. Throughout his lifetime, the inventor received various patents and medals for his innovative work and achievements.  

Mark Dean 

There are computer screens at the heart of everything we do in the packaging industry. That’s true whether we are shipping products, processing orders, or solving queries. Of course, computers would look quite different without the work of Mark Dean. He is the man behind the colour screens that you probably use every day of your life. A computer scientist and engineer, he holds the rights to some of the most ground breaking computer patients including the first colour PC monitor as well as the first gigahertz chip. He helped ensure computers were more accessible, user-friendly and cemented them as a key aspect of everyday life as well as countless business processes. 

Why Is This List Not Longer?

We hope you have found this list informative. As we celebrate the work of these incredible innovators, it is important to recognise why there are not more names to fill this list. While there have been recent advancements and evolutions in the world of packaging, many of the creations we still rely on today in this industry were invented decades ago. During this time, many black people were enslaved. Once they were freed, they still had limited rights and a lack of opportunities. We can only imagine the progress that could have been achieved if history hadn’t been tarnished with such immeasurable levels of inequality and cruelty. 

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