Top 10 Types of Blister Packaging In The Pharmaceutical Industry

Functionality and aesthetics are the main features of packaging in the pharma industry. This means that the type of packaging used, particularly for medicine, has to serve these two purposes. Blister packaging has been adopted in this industry since it serves these two purposes. In this article, we discuss functional and aesthetic types of blister packaging.

What is Blister Packaging?

The term blister is used to describe a pocket that is filled by something. In the context of packaging, blister packs can be made in many different ways which translates to the various types of blister packs. 

By definition, blister packs are a type of packaging technique where the packing material, mostly PVC, is molded to fit the shape of what is being packaged. For instance, blister packs for tablets or capsules are molded in such a way that the tablet will fit perfectly in the mold.

Blister packs are made either by heating or other types of molding techniques. These methods are quite effective at forming the best blister packs. However, special methods can also be used based on the type of blister packaging. 

Types of Blister Packaging

Blister packaging is classified into several types. One of the factors used to classify these packs is the form factor of the packaging. In other words, this is about the appearance. The following are some of the top and common blister packaging techniques. 

Thermoformed Blister Packs

In several industries, heat, and pressure are used to form shapes. Therefore, thermoformed blister packs are packaging made by molding plastic using heat.

To achieve this pack, the plastic is first heated until it becomes pliable. The next step is the formation of the blister. In most cases, the blister is formed into a desired shape using a mold that resembles the shape of what is to be packed.

Essentially, thermoformed blister packs are created in three steps. Step one involves the formation of a pocket or cavity where the product will be placed. Next is the placement of the product that is to be sealed. Finally, the pocket is sealed with a protective layer of aluminum or plastic.

Face Seal Blister Packs

In this type of blister packaging, the product is molded around a plastic package that completely engulfs it. This packaging has two components; a plastic housing, and a paperboard. Once the molding is done, the blister is housed on the bottom using the paperboard. This paperboard is mostly made of cardboard material. 

The plastic used in face seal blister packs is usually transparent. This is done to ensure that the user can see the product and its characteristics. On the other hand, the paperboard has an engraving that allows easy access to the sealed product.

Full-face Seal Blister Packs

Consider this a more advanced face seal blister pack. Particularly, in this type of blister packaging, the plastic mold covers the whole packaging. There are two major reasons why this is done. First, it is to improve the durability of the packaging. Secondly, this packaging is more secure compared to the previous one. 

Full-face blister packs are meant for heavier products due to the durability of the packaging. In other words, it is ideal for products that require more robust packaging. 

Full Card Blisters

This blister pack closely resembles the full-face blister pack in design. In most cases, it is meant for card packaging, hence the name face card blisters. 

In this type of packaging, the card that is being covered is usually sandwiched between the blister. In other words, the plastic covers the whole package. Therefore, when accessing the product, you will have to tear apart the whole plastic. This means that this packaging is quite durable and robust than full-face blister packs.

Trapped Blister Packs

A blister card is usually made of cardboard material or hardcover paper. This is what is used in this type of blister packaging. 

Trapped blisters are usually created through thermoforming. However, the blister is the only thing that is created through thermoforming. The trapping is achieved by interlocking two sides of the paperboard which covers the blister. 

This type of blister packaging is usually used for fragile products that require reinforced packaging for enhanced protection.

Clamshell Blister Packs

This type of blister packaging derives its name from a clamshell shell. This shell usually has two halves that are hinged. The halves can be closed and opened using this hinge. As such, this should give you an idea of what the blister pack looks like.

The blister pocket is made of plastic and it is accessed using the hinges. Like all other blister packs, it is transparent and it allows for visibility of the product. Also, the plastic used, in most cases polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is quite strong. This leads to durable packaging that can be used for delicate products.

Cold-form Blister Packs

A cold-form blister pack is also known as an aluminum blister pack. This is because the base of the packaging is made of aluminum material.

It is a type of blister pack meant for packing products that require maximum protection against moisture, UV, or other foreign elements. On the other hand, the top layer is made of common plastic such as PVC that is durable enough for extra protection.

The difference between cold-form blister packs with thermoformed is that in this type, there is no heat required in the formation of the blister pack. To achieve the blister, the plastic is formed at room temperature. One of the other reasons for this is to ensure that the aluminum does not deform, which could happen in case of high temperatures.

Child-resistant Blister Packaging

In the pharmaceutical industry, some products are exclusively restricted from children for obvious reasons. These types of products need a specialized type of blister packaging that will make it impossible for the children to access the product.

This is why we have child-resistant blister packs. The designs of these packs are quite similar to other blister packs. However, one key difference is that the mechanism of opening them is quite unique. In most cases, you will find them using twist-and-turn mechanisms that are hard for children to figure out. 

Child-resistant blisters are usually a regulatory measure by bodies such as the FDA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Fold-over Blister Cards

To create this type of packaging, the plastic is folded over the blister card. From this, you can tell that this type of blister pack has two components; a plastic and a base. The base is mostly made of paperboard material while the plastic can be any variety as long as it meets the requirements.

One of the unique features of this type of blister packaging is that it is quite easy to tell if or when the packaging has been tampered with. Particularly, trying to access the fold either from the back or front causes a visible dent. This helps to add extra safety and assurance to the consumer that the product has not been interfered with since it was packaged.

Single-seal Blister Cards

As the name suggests, this type of pack has a single seal. If you remember the design of a clamshell pack, you should not have a hard time understanding this type of blister pack. In other words, single-seal blister cards are the complete opposite of clamshell packs that have a double-sided locking mechanism.

This type of blister packaging is quite niche and it is used by specific pharmaceutical companies for specific products. It offers most of the features of other blister packs.

Benefits of Blister Packaging 

As you can tell from the design and packaging mechanisms, blister packs have many advantages. Let us discuss some of these benefits.

Protects Drugs Against Damage

During transportation or storage of pharma products, there is a lot of expected stress that can damage these products. The robust design of the blister pocket absorbs this pressure and makes it impossible for these products to be damaged. This is done to ensure that the product reaches the consumer in perfect condition.

To Control Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeiting is quite common in the pharma industry. As such, control measures such as specific types of packaging are put in place to limit these atrocities. Blister packs are designed to be tamper-proof and unique based on product specifications. Therefore, unless a third party breaks the law, they are unable to duplicate the packaging down to the last detail.

Improve shell-life of Drugs

One of the main features of blister packs is the durability of the packaging. The life of drugs is influenced by the freshness of the packaging. Blister packs are meant to be proofed from unwanted elements such as moisture that could destroy them. In other words, the sealed environment improves the freshness of the product.

Makes the Drugs Visible 

Most of the plastic tops are usually transparent and for good reason. While plastic is generally clear or transparent, this is not the main reason why the packs are transparent. The main reason is to ensure that the products, in this case drugs, are visible. In other words, you can clearly see the physical characteristics of the drugs such as color, size, and shape.

Ease of Access

Except for child-resistant blister packs, it is quite easy to access other types of products packaged in blister packs. In most cases, the paperboard or card used as the base of the packaging provides access to the enclosed product. This design element is what makes blister packs both functional and aesthetic.

Conclusion

The pharma industry has strict requirements since it has a direct influence on the well-being of virtually all humans on Earth. Ensuring that the packaging used is robust and safe is one of their major concerns, as demonstrated by these types of blister packaging. This explains why blister packaging is widely used even beyond the pharma industry.

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