If you need custom blister packaging, custom clamshell packaging, custom thermoform trays or perhaps tubs with (or without) lids, the team at Indepak has been designing and creating these items since 1967. Here’s a quick look at the world of thermoform plastic as well as the part we play in the industry.
What Is Thermoform Plastic?
There are many types of plastic that fall under the category of thermoform plastic. In general, there are two main categories of plastic – thermoform plastic and thermoset plastic.
Thermoset plastic is the type that is used for items that will be used for a long period of time, such as car parts and medical equipment or perhaps the keys on your computer keyboard. These plastics, once they are created in a specific shape, cannot be recycled and used again to make something else.
Thermoform plastics, on the other hand, can be recycled, and these plastics are used to make everything from food packaging to retail packaging as well as packaging for medications, electronics packaging and much more. Many thermoform plastics can be recycled again and again to make new products.
How Do Thermoform Plastics Save You Money?
Inexpensive Materials – Thermoform plastic is one of the most affordable packaging materials available. If you don’t have a huge budget, plastic is usually your best bet price-wise, but that’s not the only reason to consider plastic.
Highly Protective – Plastic protects products in many ways. Plastic locks out moisture, which protects whatever is inside your package. Thermoform plastic is highly impact-resistant, as well, protecting your products during transport and if it is dropped or jostled on a shelf. Many types of plastic packaging also are highly tamper-resistant or tamper-proof.
Plastic can extend product life and reduce the likelihood of loss by damage or theft. Reducing product loss definitely helps your bottom line, and there’s no other packaging material out there that can provide the same level of protection as plastic. Additionally, with products such as specialty foods, plastic modified atmosphere packaging can extend the shelf life of foods and help you extend your market, thus increasing profitability.
Lightweight – Transporting goods is not cheap, and while the size of the items you transport affects the transportation cost, so does the overall weight. Plastic is much lighter than any other packaging option, which reduces fuel costs (and fuel emissions) and reduces your costs as well.
The Thermoform Process
Thermoforming is the process by which we make everything from plastic trays to clamshells and much more. For this process, we take large sheets of thin gauge plastic and feed into a machine known as a thermoformer. The plastic moves first into a heating station, where it is warmed to a specific temperature where it becomes malleable.
At the next station, the forming station, this heated thermoform is forced into molds, either using pressure or vacuum force or perhaps both. From there, the new packages or parts move to a trimming station. The plastic is then cooled and removed from the machine. The remaining plastic that is left behind, which we call the web, is recycled for future use.
Of course, before we get to this part of the process, quite a bit has to happen. We first meet with clients to learn as much as we can about their products and discuss their packaging options. Our design team will work with CAD files of your product in order to design the best possible packaging.
Once the design team creates a design and the client approves the design, we can create a prototype of the design. Once that prototype is approved, we can move on toward the production process.
Worried About Sustainability?
These days everyone is concerned about the environment, and for very good reasons. Our climate is changing, and we need to be making changes, as well. Plastics tend to get the worst rap when it comes to sustainability, but that’s not entirely fair.
Did you know that it takes far less energy to produce thermoform plastic packaging than any other packaging material? A study by an independent research group, Franklin Associates, developed for the American Chemistry Council, includes some results that might surprise you.
For instance, the energy needed to produce other alternative types of packaging (glass, paper, aluminum, etc.) requires much more energy than producing plastic. In fact, using plastic packaging saves enough energy, according to this study, to fuel 18 million passenger vehicles.
If you are interested in reading the entire study, here’s a link https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Reports-and-Publications/LCA-of-Plastic-Packaging-Compared-to-Substitutes.pdf.
Additionally, virtually all of the materials we use can be recycled. You can recycle some types of paper, but if it has any grease on it or food waste, it cannot be recycled. Aluminum can be recycled many times, but it’s also much heavier, more expensive and requires more energy to produce than plastic.
Many glass containers can be recycled, but these packages also are heavier and more expensive and require more energy to produce. Glass also is highly breakable, which makes it a much less desirable packaging material.
At Indepak, we can provide you with highly recyclable materials for your packaging, and we are experts at producing combination designs, such as trap blister, which reduce the overall amount of plastic that needs to be used for your packaging. We also can create some packaging using starch-based bioplastics, which are created from renewable sources.
Types Of Thermoform Packaging We Can Create
Blister Packaging – Whether you need webs for medication packs or you need trap blisters for a retail product, we are equal to the task. We can create all types of blister packs for a wide range of retailers and pharmaceutical companies.
Clamshells – Clamshells actually are a type of blister pack, and clamshells can be a very durable and secure option for many retail products as well as for specialty foods.
Thermoform Trays – We can create just about any type of tray you might need! This includes trays for specialty food products, medical trays, agricultural trays, business-to-business trays and more.
Containers/Tubs – We often design containers, often with lids, for the specialty foods industry. This might be a container with a lid to hold a deli sandwich or perhaps a tub with a lid to hold butter, yogurt, sour cream or something else. We work with many food-compliant materials and also can create packaging suitable for modified atmosphere applications.
Beyond Packaging – Not everything we create is a package! We can create parts of entire products out of thermoform plastic. We also are experts at fabricating thermoform foam, so if you need a foam product or insert, give us a call.
At Indepak, we can complete every aspect of the thermoforming process at our Portland facility. For instance, we have an in-house tooling shop where we create all of our molds. We have an in-house design team and multiple lines of high-speed thermoforming equipment.
We also can provide you with inventory management services and package fulfillment services. We aim to provide each client with a total packaging solution that meets their needs and their budget. If you would like to discuss a thermoform packaging project, give us a call at any time or click on the Contact tab at the top of this page.