Blister packaging, also known as a Blister Pack, are terms used to describe several types of preformed clear plastic cavities used for packaging small consumer goods, foods, and pharmaceuticals. The components of a blister pack consist of a cavity or pocket made from clear plastic and a backing, often a paperboard card.
Customers present a product to be packaged (or submit a drawing of the design) and a mold is produced for manufacturing the cavity. The plastic cavity is usually made of clear PVC or PET plastic. The plastic is heated then suctioned into or formed over an aluminum mold.
Typically, the plastic blister is adhered to a backing of paperboard, a lidding seal foil or plastic. The backing or card allows space for graphics and product information to show through, and along with the product itself, grab the buyer’s attention. A hanger hole in the top of the blister package can be incorporated allowing the package to hang. These are most familiar as pharmaceutical blister packs and sometimes referred to as blister trays.
Blister Packaging is an economical choice for the retailers and benefits the consumer as well. The product can be visually examined through the transparent plastic. The backing card is usually colorful and designed to focus on the features of the product placed between the blister and card. The blister tray is affixed to the card using heat and pressure to activate an adhesive (heat seal coating) on the blister card. The adhesive is strong enough so that the pack may hang on a peg, but weak enough so that the package can be easily opened. Sometimes, with large items, the card has a small window to allow the consumer to touch the product while still allowing it to remain secure.
Common Types of Retail Packaging Blisters
Pharmaceutical blister packs usually consist of a relatively thin blister tray that is lidded with a foil barrier. These packs allow the medication or supplement to be pushed through the lidding material for consumption. These packs obviously provide tamper evidence and also, individual product distribution. This type of packaging is useful for protecting products against external factors, such as humidity and contamination for extended periods of time. Opaque blisters also protect light-sensitive products against UV rays that can negatively affect efficacy.
Medical blister trays differ from pharmaceutical blister packs in that these are not push-through packs. The thermoformed base web is made of a thicker plastic sheet and cannot be collapsed, thus forming a solid tray. The lidding film provides a peel-open feature and is generally porous to allow sterilization such as EtO. Such medical blister packs are used for sterile medical devices, as used in hospitals.
Blister carded packaging is used in a variety of markets and product categories, including:
- Club Stores (typically trap blisters) and Major Retail Chains
- Home Improvement, Hardware, Tools
- Hunting and Fishing
- Sports & Recreation
- Health and Beauty, Cosmetics
- Household Goods
- Office and Craft Supplies
- Toys and Games
Features of Blister Packaging:
Blister packaging is a cost-conscious way of featuring a product. Many different material and thickness option are available to address cost. There are several different types of blister packaging – Face Seal, Full-Face Seal, Trap, and Slide. Each one has its unique qualities and price points, from entry level to high end.
There is a wide range of colors and finishes that blister packaging can be constructed to feature. Manufacturers/retailers 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 awareness.
Clear product display
Blister packaging helps shoppers see product, further aiding in their purchase decision while keeping the product protected and the packaging free of damage. Most consumers believe it is important to see a product before making a purchase.
Theft deterrent packaging
Packages are specifically designed so that the customer cannot “touch and feel” the product. Products can be efficiently heat sealed between the blister and the card. Clear, protective, and durable blister packaging allows the customer to view the product while maintaining its security.
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 cannot easily be 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.
Steps in Developing a Custom Blister Package
1. Project Begins
- Email, conference call, or in-person meeting to review:
- Customer supplies example of product or a drawing with dimensions
- Card Dimensions / Shelf Space available / Planogram is discussed
- Features or Benefits that want to be highlighted are discussed
- Hang-Hole Type
- Goals for packaging and branding are discussed
- Budget is discussed and estimated costs are provided
- Customer is provided with a 2-D design from a VisiPak packaging engineer that incorporates what has been discussed.
- Customer reviews design and provides feedback.
- Design is approved or revisions are made and process continues until design approval.
- Customer submits purchase order for prototype
- Ren board mold is created in-house and blister samples are produced
- We design and test customer sample for form, fit, and function
- If only drawing available from customer we use software to estimate form, fit and function
- We ship blister samples to client for approval
- Customer approves blister or revision is made (1st revision typically at no charge)
4. Tool Development
- Client submits approval of blister and releases purchase order for production of blister
- Aluminum mold is manufactured in-house on state of the art CNC equipment.
5. Part Production & Fulfillment
- Product is scheduled for production usually within 1 week after tooling is complete.
- Blisters shipped to customer.