Blister Packaging Vs. Strip Packaging: Comparing Features, Differences, and Similarities

Blister and strip packaging are used across several industries, especially in Pharma. These primary packaging techniques are known for their guaranteed durability, safety, and efficiency. While they have several similarities, they also differ in many ways. In this article, we explore their features, differences, and similarities to help you compare them easily.

Blister and Strip as Primary Packaging Techniques

In the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) and pharma industries, there are three major types of packaging used. They are primary, secondary, and tertiary. The two packaging techniques we are comparing in this article — strip and blister packaging — fall into the primary category. 

Primary packaging offers more protection to the product since it comes into close contact with the packed item. The protection aspect of this type of packaging is to keep the item in the best condition before it is unpackaged. Blister and strip packaging are used in the pharmaceutical industry for this particular reason.

What is Blister Packaging?

This is the most dominant type of primary packaging in several industries. Essentially, the term blister describes the appearance of the packaging. In other words, the swell or bulge that comes from the thermoforming techniques gives it the name blister packaging. 

There are several types of blister packaging that you have come across. Each type of packaging has a particular style, structure, and purpose. For this article, we will not dwell much on these types but rather on how blister packaging relates to strip packaging.

What is Strip Packaging?

Strip Packaging
Strip Packaging

This type of primary packaging is otherwise known as unit dose packaging. It means that the packed item is closely packed into a semi-rigid unit. In comparison, the packaging on blister packs is usually not as rigid. 

In strip packaging, there are no blisters or cavities. This is one of the main aspects that differentiate strip packaging from blister packaging. However, this does not mean that strip packaging is inferior when compared to blister packaging. If anything, they offer more protection due to the unit dose packaging and the rigidity of the packaging material.

Blister Packaging vs. Strip Packaging: Features 

Strip packaging and blister packaging have many distinctive features. They are the standalone characteristics that help us better understand these packaging techniques. Still, there is some overlap in the sense that some of these features are repetitive or they are found in both. Let us explore some of them.

Features of strip packaging 

Strip packaging has several distinct features. Some of them include

  • Child-proof design. This means that the packaging is made in such a way that children cannot open it easily. Such design elements are to ensure that the items packaged are not interfered with. 
  • Airtight. The individual strips are designed and made to be airtight. As a result, the packed items are protected from moisture and UV oxidation.
  • Recyclable. Most strip packaging manufacturers use materials that can be recycled to make other products. These materials are also environmentally friendly, a factor that supports the green economy agenda.
  • Appealing design. Like most primary packaging techniques, strip packaging also focuses on the aesthetics of the packaging. You will notice that most of the elements of the design are in line with the known principles of design.
  • Less popular than blister packaging. Due to the limited use cases, strip packaging is less known in various industries. However, strip packaging is fairly known given the dominance of the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Item accessed by tearing. The intended method of accessing the packaged product from the strip is by tearing the strip. 

Features of blister packaging 

Blister packaging also has some definite features, including;

  • High visibility. One of the things you notice with most blister packs is that they are transparent. Primarily, this results from the fact that blister packs are made using plastic as the common material.
  • Highly durable. The cavity that holds the packed item in blister packaging is quite rigid. This rigidity means that the packed item 
  • Evidence of tampering. The design of the blister packs makes it easy to identify if or when someone has tried tampering with the packaged product. This is a safety measure put in place to ensure that items are not interfered with before or during transit.
  • Expensive than strip packaging. When you compare the cost of basic blister and strip packs, you note that the manufacturing cost of blister packs is higher. As a result, this means that they will be generally more expensive than strip packs.
  • Access packaged products by peeling or pushing. There are two recommended methods of accessing the packaged product in a blister pack. Whether you choose to peel or push the item out, either method is suitable.

Blister Packaging vs. Strip Packaging: Differences

While both strip and blister packaging achieve the same goal, they have subtle differences that set them apart. Differences can be noted in design, material, use cases, level of protection, and the guaranteed level of safety. Let us explore these differences in more detail.

Make Material

blisterPack
blister Pack

One of the major differences between blister and strip packs is that the top material is specific to each type of packaging. 

In strip packaging, the main material of the strips is usually aluminum while blister packs are mostly made from plastic. However, you should also keep in mind that these materials can be interchanged depending on the manufacturer and intended use case. To elaborate, some blister packs can be made of aluminum while plastic can be used to make strip packs.

Strip packs are mostly made from cellophane, paper foil, and low-density polyethylene while blister packs are made from paperboard, Polyvinylidene chloride, Polychlorotrifluoroethylene, PVC, or amorphous plastic resins.

One of the reasons why aluminum is used in strip packaging is due to the flexibility of the material. Flexibility is a feature that helps prevent breakages when handling or repackaging the strip packs in large quantities. On the other hand, plastic is mostly used for blister packs since it is highly transparent and responds well to thermoforming. 

Applications

Blister packaging and strip packaging have one major goal — to package items in a safe and durable form factor. However, there is one major difference between the two.

Strip packaging is a technique that is almost used exclusively in the pharmaceutical industry. This industry has several products such as drugs, food, and agrochemicals that require high-level protection from external elements. As such, an effective primary packaging technique such as strip packaging is quite useful.

Whereas blister packaging is used in pharma for similar reasons, it is not limited to this sector. This type of packaging extends to all sorts of industries you can ponder. You will find it used in consumer goods, and electronics, among others.

Manufacturing and usage  

Another aspect of comparison between blister packaging and strip packaging is the manufacturing and usage.

To start with, the machine used to make strip packs is different from the one that makes blister packs. Strip packaging is known to be generally slower than blister packaging. Still, this will depend on the machine used. 

The blister packing machine used to make blister packs depends on the particular type of blister pack being made. Most of these machines are optimized to handle high-volume manufacturing, which means that blister packaging is a high-speed packaging technique. 

Protection 

The level of protection from blister packaging differs from that of strip packaging. This is expected based on the form factor of the two types of packaging. 

Blister packaging has high mechanical protection compared to strip packaging. This can be attributed to the rigidity of the blister cavities. Since strip packs are not formed through thermoforming processes, the cavities tend to be quite soft.

The difference in these types of packaging based on the level of protection can be a useful parameter to use when determining the appropriate type of packaging to use. For instance, it is more appropriate to use blister packaging than strip packaging for soft gelatin capsules. On the contrary, tablets can be packaged in strip packs since they are manufactured to be rigid.

Types and categories

In most cases, all industries use the standard blister and strip packaging designs. This is because there are regulatory bodies that control the packaging standards across various sectors. In pharma particularly, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) is responsible for putting across these standards.

Blister packaging is known to have many different designs that correspond to the packaged item. Also, the types of packaging come from the material used to manufacture the packaging. On the other hand, strip packaging has simple designs that are designated by the formed by the border of the strip. 

Blister Packaging vs. Strip Packaging: Similarities

Even though these methods of blister packaging are different, they have certain similarities that make them not so different. You could say that some of their features overlap. Let us explore these similarities. 

Both are Primary Packaging

Blister-Packaging-VS-Strip-Packaging
Blister-Packaging-VS-Strip-Packaging

We started by categorizing both strip packaging and blister packaging as primary packaging techniques. This is because of the close contact between the item and the packaging material. For this reason, the packaging should be conducted in a fully sterilized environment to avoid contamination. 

Both are unit-dose packaging systems  

A unit-dose packaging system is a system whereby the product or multiple products are packed in individual packets. Specifically, this type of packaging is used in the pharmaceutical industry because there are a lot of dosage requirements followed. Unit dose packaging is also used in improving security, safety, and contamination concerns in these industries. 

Both are used in the pharmaceutical industry 

The features of strip and blister packaging come in handy in the pharmaceutical industry. This is among the many industries that value several factors in the packaging of products. Besides, they do not have a choice because it is not up to them — the FDA oversees packaging in this sector. 

Both protect the packaged product

One of the end goals of strip and blister packaging is to protect the item from mechanical external stressors. These stressors include mechanical stress, moisture, and other elements that can result in a negative outcome when handling the items. Luckily, the form factor of these packaging techniques guarantees optimal protection of the items.

Conclusion

Blister packaging and strip packaging have revolutionized many industries. They are efficient primary packaging techniques that provide the utmost protection to everyday products. As you have noted in this article, while the two have several evident differences, they share some similarities too. This makes them ideal for various applications in multiple sectors.

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