Packaging 101: The Complete Guide

Britt Martin, Arka's Partnerships lead, blends e-commerce expertise with sustainability advocacy, nurturing startups as a Founder in Residence at NYU.

The Key Advantages and Benefits of Blister Packaging

Blister packaging is a type of packaging formed when heated and molded into a bubble-like shape to fit small products. It’s commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry for medicines and supplements, and it’s also used for small consumer goods, toys, and food.

Using blister packaging comes with numerous advantages and benefits.

Customized Packaging

Blister packaging can be customized to suit a business's and customer's needs. It can be molded and changed to adjust to the needs of a customer and to help boost brand identity by helping a business to stand out.

Tamper Protection

Blister packaging comes with tamper protection. This means it deters people from meddling with the product and reduces the likelihood of theft. If a product with blister packaging has been tampered with, it causes visible damage.

Preventing Accidental Drug Misuse

Blister packaging is commonly used for medications, and its packaging can be a deterrent to drug misuse and overdoses.

blister packaging for drugs

Credits: Volodymyr Hryshchenko

Enhanced Product Visibility

Blister packaging is transparent, which allows customers to clearly see the product before they buy.

Minimal Movement in the Packaging

Because of how blister packaging is structured and designed, the products inside it are likely to stay secure - minimizing potential accidental damage and deterioration.

10 Types of Blister Packaging

Here are the 10 different types of blister packaging.

Clamshell Packaging

Clamshell packaging is a type of packaging where two pieces are joined together by a hinge mechanism, allowing the structure to come together and close.

Clamshell packaging comes available in different materials, such as sugarcane, plastic and recycled paper, and it’s commonly used in the food industry to help seal and preserve food.

clamshell packaging

Credits: Visipak by Sinclair & Rush

Slide Blister Packaging

Slide blister packaging is a combination of paper and plastic blister packaging, where one part slides open and shut. It is used for small tools and items, such as padlocks and small hooks.

Face Seal Blister Packaging

Face seal blister packaging is designed with a cavity to fit in small items, such as batteries, dental floss and lip balm.

​​Mock Clamshell Blister Packaging

Similar to the face seal blister packaging, mock clamshell blister packaging contains a one-piece blister where the blister card is sealed to the back of the blister and has a space to add a product.

Skin Blister Packaging

Skin blister packaging is the type of packaging that completely covers and molds itself to the shape of the product. It is used for low-cost items, specific food products (such as fish), and accessories.

skin blister packaging

Trap Blister Packaging

A trapped blister is a thermoformed blister where the product is placed in between two folded cards, which keeps it secure. It’s commonly used for small home products such as torches and batteries.

Plastic and Paper Packaging

Blister packaging can be produced with a combination of plastic and paper materials. The plastic part normally forms the front of the packaging, where you can see the product, and the paper aspect is located at the back of the packaging, which keeps the product sealed until it’s opened. This is normally used for small beauty items and toys.

plastic and paper packaging

Credits: Wood Mackenzie

Plastic and Plastic Packaging

Similar to plastic and paper blister packaging, plastic and plastic packaging combines plastic at the front of the packaging and plastic at the back, which seals the packaging and keeps it intact.

Aluminum Foil and Plastic Packaging

To maintain freshness and quality, some brands use a combination of aluminum foil and plastic blister packaging. This is particularly useful for foods such as nuts and seeds. It can also be used for food storage. The front is normally plastic (and transparent), and the back is made of aluminum.

blister packaging

Credits: Anna Shvets

Aluminum Foil and Aluminum Foil Packaging

Similar to aluminum foil and plastic packaging, aluminum foil and aluminum foil blister packaging combined contains 100% aluminum and is used to seal foods and keep food fresh.

Blister Packaging Components

Blister packaging components are different parts of blister packaging produced that form that packaging when they are integrated.

Depending on the materials used and the item that the blister packaging will be used for, blister packaging components may vary, but usually, blister packaging components consist of a bubble or pocket made of plastic, plastic or paperboard backing and an integrated hanging element.

Forming Film in Blister Packaging

The forming film in blister packaging creates the pocket, bubble, or cavity when the product stays in place.

Backing Material or Lidding

The backing material or lidding is the component that keeps the product sealed and the packaging intact. This is normally made with plastic, paper, cardboard or aluminum foil.

coffee bar blister packaging

Credits: Behance, Date Of Birth

Heat-Seal Coating

Heat-seal coating is the plastic part of blister packaging that creates a pocket where the product will stay securely in place, and it is normally heat-sealed to an adhesive-coated paperboard card or foil backing.

Prints in Blister Packaging

Many companies print on blister packaging. This is essential for items that are likely to expire, such as food and medication. Prints help the customer to identify key information about the product, such as expiry date, date of manufacturer, batch number, and serial number.

The Process of Blister Packaging

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the process of blister packaging:

Firstly, the design of the packaging format is completed.

Secondly, the manufacturer molds the design of the bubble, pocket or cavity into the forming machine. This can be done via thermoforming (with plastic) or cold forming (with aluminum).

As the process continues while the film moves through the machine, it forms into the correct shape.

Afterwards, the products are added into the pocket of the packaging, and the backing is added to each product during production and bonded together.

After the bonding process is complete, blister packs are cut into blister cards and transported through the packing line.

Inspection is carried out during and after production.

blister packaging process

Materials Used in Manufacturing Blister Packs

What materials are used in manufacturing blister packs? And what plastic is used for blister packaging?

• Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) in Blister Packs: this offers structural rigidity and physician protection for pharmaceutical items.

Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC) in Blister Packs: this is used as a laminated barrier to prevent the product from being exposed to moisture and oxygen.

Polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE) in Blister Packs: this is used as a coating to protect chemical formulations.

blister packagings

Polypropylene (PP) in Blister Packs: this offers a barrier protecting the product and is eco-friendly because it’s easy to recycle.

Polyethylene (PET) in Blister Packs: this is easy to mold, fitting the correct shape of the item, and consists of numerous recyclable plastics.

Cyclic Olefin Copolymers (COC) in Blister Packs: this provides protection and prevents damage to consumer goods and pharmaceutical products. It easily forms to adapt to the shape of the product.

Laminated Aluminum Foil in Blister Packs: this is used to help maintain the quality and standards of the product.

Final Thoughts

Blister packaging is a type of packaging that is commonly used across the pharmaceutical, consumer goods and food industries.

It comes available in many different forms and different materials are used to create blister packaging. Overall, blister packaging is a good option for keeping items sealed and maintaining the quality of the products.

FAQs on Blister Packaging

Here are some frequently asked questions about blister packaging.

What industries commonly use blister packaging?

Pharmaceutical, food, consumer goods, and DIY industries use blister packaging for products.

Is blister packaging tamper-evident?

Yes. Blister packaging provides extra security on products so if it is tampered with, the damage is obvious.

Can blister packaging be recycled?

Yes, some types of blister packaging can be recycled, and many blister packaging options are made from recyclable materials.

What is blister vs. strip packaging?

Blister packaging comes with a pocket, bubble or cavity, where the product sits, stays in place, and is sealed with a heat-sealable backing material. Strip packaging encloses pharmaceutical products between two webs of heat-sealable film.

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