Blister pack

Blister pack” is a general term that describes packaging that uses a process known as thermoforming. Thermoforming involves heating a sheet of plastic to a temperature where it can be easily formed and molded into any desired shape. The term “blister” refers to the pocket of thermoformed plastic that covers the product.

Blister pack Thermoforming involves heating a sheet of plastic to a temperature where it can be easily formed and molded into any desired shape

Blister pack packaging

Blister packs refer to a variety of packaging that have a pre-formed plastic “pocket” or “shell” (where a product sits securely in place) that is most often heat sealed to an adhesive coated paperboard card or foil backing (think single dose pills or lozenges).
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Blister pack is a term for several types of pre-formed plastic packaging used for small consumer goods, foods, and for pharmaceuticals.
The primary component of a blister pack is a cavity or pocket made from a formable web, usually a thermoformed plastic. This usually has a backing of paperboard or a lidding seal of aluminum foil or plastic. A blister that folds onto itself is often called a clamshell.
Blister packs are useful for protecting products against external factors, such as humidity and contamination for extended periods of time. Opaqueblisters also protect light-sensitive products against UV rays.
A. Production
1. Thermoforming
In the case of thermoforming, a plastic film or sheet is unwound from the reel and guided though a pre-heating station on the blister line. The temperature of the pre-heating plates (upper and lower plates) is such that the plastic will soften and become pliable. The warm plastic will then arrive in a forming station where a large pressure (4 to 8 bar) will form the blister cavity into a negative mold. The mold is cooled such that the plastic becomes rigid again and maintains its shape when removed from the mold. In case of difficult shapes, the warm film will be physically pushed down partially into the cavity by a “plug-assist” feature. Plug-assist results in a blister cavity with more uniform wall distribution and is typically used when the cavity size and shape is larger than a small tablets and capsules.
2. Cold forming
In the case of cold forming, an aluminum-based laminate film is simply pressed into a mold by means of a stamp. The aluminum will be elongated and maintain the formed shape. In the industry these blisters are called cold form foil (CFF) blisters. The principal advantage of cold form foil blisters is that the use of aluminum offers a near complete barrier for water and oxygen, allowing an extended product expiry date. The principal disadvantages of cold form foil blisters are: the slower speed of production compared to thermoforming; the lack of transparency of the package (a therapy compliance disadvantage); and the larger size of the blister card (aluminum can not be formed with near 90 degree angles).[citation needed]In cold forming aluminium is offering a near complete barrier for water and oxygen, allowing an extended product expiry date.
Blister packs refer to a variety of packaging that have a pre-formed plastic “pocket” or “shell” (where a product sits securely in place) that is most often heat sealed to an adhesive coated paperboard card or foil backing (think single dose pills or lozenges).

There are many types and variations of blister packs in use in the retail market.

3. FACE SEAL BLISTER

A flanged blister that surrounds the product and is heat sealed to a piece of paperboard. The seal is only on the flange while the rest of the card stays uncovered.

For heavier products a larger flange (or different blister style – see below) is generally used.

This is a very common and inexpensive blister pack style if your volumes are high enough (25K – 500K).

4. FULL FACE SEAL BLISTER

Similar to the face seal, this blister pack’s seal extends to the entire face of the card. This offers more durability and strength to the edges of the card (prevents bent corners) and reinforces the hang hole as well. In addition, it offers a higher perceived value because it looks nicer than the standard face seal blister, but of course is more expensive.

Tooling costs for the heat seal can be expensive for these face seal blister packs, but a “trapped blister” (see below) doesn’t require heat seal.

5. TRAPPED BLISTER

This type is similar to the previously mentioned blisters, but instead of heat sealing the blister to the card, it is “trapped” between two cards. The top card is die cut to fit the blister where the product sits. Since trapped blisters do not use heat sealing, no expensive heat seal tooling is required.

6. FULL CARD BLISTER

In this configuration, the blister extends to the full size of the card as in the full face seal blister, but instead of being sealed to the card, it has flanges that wrap around the card. The card is simply slid into place and is sometimes secured with a staple.

7. CLAMSHELL

A clamshell is a container with two halves that are hinged to open and close, just like a clam. It is very strong, robust packaging and excellent for heavy products. Often a blister card is used (but doesn’t have to be) and is inserted, not sealed as in the other styles of blister packs. “Feet” to enable the clamshell to stand upright on store shelves and/or the addition of a hang hole can be easily included in this style of blister. Clamshells can be closed by a snap-shut button or sealed securely with heat, radio frequency or uv light. When sealed in one of these latter three methods, they can be frustrating and even dangerous to open for consumers, but are very tamper resistant as a result. Tooling costs are more expensive for clamshells than the aforementioned blister styles.

8. MOCK CLAMSHELL

A mock clamshell is a one piece blister where the blister card is sealed to the back of the blister. It is basically quite similar to the full face blister pack (see above) except there is a small lip (about a 1/4”) that extends past where the blister card is positioned. This lip is there to enforce the edges and protect the blister card (where all your awesome graphics are printed) from being damaged from potentially rough handling by customers or store workers. Mock clamshells are often half the price of regular clamshells.

9. 2-PIECE CLAMSHELL (Clamshell Variation)

I’ve seen this one a lot in retail stores. It is like a hybrid version of a mock clamshell with an added flat plastic backing that is glued to the blister pocket.

10. TRI-FOLD CLAMSHELL

Generally used when the product is heavy and unstable if packaged in a regular clamshell, the Tri-Fold Clamshell has two hinges that, when folded, create a wide triangular bottom. This provides a very solid and steady platform for even the most awkward and unbalanced products.

Tri-Fold clamshells are typically more expensive and have higher tooling costs than other types of clamshells.

11. BLISTER PACK ALTERNATIVES

The following are not technically blister packs and do not use preformed blisters made from sturdy PVC plastic. They instead use plastic films that are more flexible and yet still very durable.
SKIN PACKAGING

This involves a thin film (usually Dupont Surlyn®) that is placed over the product and the paperboard card. Heat and sometimes vacuum is applied in order to adhere the film tightly onto the product and card. This film is very strong and clear and fits the product like an outer “skin”. The product is completely immobilized by the skin which gives added protection to the front of the card as well.

Products with high volumes do well with skin packaging. However, the is a “lesser perceived value” from consumers on products with skin packaging, so a low price point for your product is important.

Lower perceived value than blister packaging.

Skin packaging really behaves like “skin” as it covers the product.

12. STRETCH PAK (A.K.A STRETCH PACK or STRETCH CARD)

This is very similar to skin packaging except that the backing card is folded and glued to itself. The product is surrounded by a clear plastic film and sits in a die-cut (cutout) area in the paperboard card. The card is then folded in half and sealed onto itself, so the product is essentially sandwiched between the two cards halves. This allows for a complete view of the product while providing plenty of eye-catching marketing real estate on the paperboard card. This packaging is generally designed for the product to stand upright on store shelves or be hung using a standard die-cut hang hole. Or like in Costco stores for example, standing upright in grooves inside tray boxes.

Full 360˚ view of the product and it can stand on its own on store shelves or be hung using a die-cut hang hole.

Secure seal prevents tampering and product shifting.

The film that secures the product is also very resilient.

But as you will see in the next image, regular blister packs are not as forgiving.

Skin Packaging and Stretch Pak packaging are more environmentally friendly than blister packs. Costco really loves stretch pak packaging.

I hope this gives you a basic idea of the different types of blister packaging as well as some popular blister alternatives. Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know if everything is clear and understandable or if I’ve missed anything.

B. Blister cards


Blister cards are the backbone of blister packaging. Together, the blister and blister card provide a beautiful, highly visible presentation of your product. Blister cards can be single cards, but also used in other variations such as the front & back card combination, or the fold-over card. In the case of a single card, the blister is sealed to the card using heat sealing. Alternatively, blisters can be trapped between front & back cards which are then bonded, or a card which is folded and then bonded. Front & back and fold-over cards can be bonded using heat or even cold sealing, a process which was invented by us.

Cold seal blister cards
Cold sealing saves energy and time during the sealing process. It means that blister cards can be sealed without using any heat. This is a great advantage because the only thing required to get a perfect bond is pressure. It makes the packing process simple, reliable, quick, environmentally friendly and most cost-effective.

Cold seal blister cards are printed only on one side of the cardboard. After assembly, all sides of the package, front and back – even the part behind the blister, can show your printed branding and instructions. This unique property allows the use of inexpensive cardboard. And with no heat required to seal the blister pack, cold seal cards are light on energy consumption. After use, the packaging materials – plastic and cardboard, can be taken apart and recycled separately, and therefore, in a totally environmentally friendly manner.

Heat seal blister cards
The most important feature of Ecobliss heat seal blister card technology is the high reliability and durability of the bond between blister and card, or card-to-card, in the case where a front & back blister card, or fold-over card is used. For the production of heat seal blister cards, Ecobliss uses its proven, environmentally friendly, water-based, Ecoseal 9000 series coating. Major clients such as Sony and P&G have tested and approved the heat seal cards produced by Ecobliss, and many millions of our blister cards are now hanging in stores across the globe.

C. Benefits

Cost savings
Blister packaging is a cost effective way of showcasing a product. Due to the nature of the material and design, it makes it more cost effective than other types of packages that are on the market. There are several different types of blister packaging – Face Seal, Trap, Mock, Slide and Interactive. Each one has its unique qualities and price points, from entry level to high end.
Advertising space
There is a wide range of colors and finishes that blister packaging can be constructed to feature. Manufacturers can use that to help make their products stand out on shelves. Blister packaging allows either the manufacturer or retailer to include promotional materials or advertisements to help build a brand and increase customer loyalty.
Clear product display
Blister packaging helps shoppers see product, further aiding in their purchase decision. More than half of shoppers believe it is important to see a product through its packaging.[citation needed]
Theft deterrent packaging
To prevent retail theft, packages are specifically designed so that the customer cannot “touch and feel” the product. Clear, protective, and durable thermoformed plastic packaging enables the customer to fully view the product while maintaining the security of the product. Blister packaging can easily be sealed using heat sealing machinery.
Tamper evident
A tamper-evident package, according to the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (21 CFR § 211.132), “is one having one or more indicators or barriers to entry which, if breached or missing, can reasonably be expected to provide visible evidence to consumers that tampering has occurred.” In addition, the indicator or barrier must be “distinctive by design,” which means the tamper-evident feature is designed from material not readily available to the public. Therefore, it can’t be easily duplicated. The labeling must also include a description of the safety feature. For blister packaging, each tablet or capsule is individually sealed, so any form of tampering is immediately visible. The product label needs to include a statement similar to the following: “Do not use if blister is cut or broken.”
Thanks for reading!