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A Closer Look at Blister Packaging Machine

Blister packaging is a common choice among drug manufacturers. As with everything else, there are machines that help with this. So, let’s find out what these Trim & Cut The Final Product machines are and how they generally work. 

Introduction to Blister Packaging

In the world of packaging options for products, there is hardly any option that works as efficiently as blister packaging. Here, you have a packaging option that comes with a plastic cavity (which is basically the blister itself) – its job is to hold the product, and it comes sealed with a backing material. 

Operating Principles of Blister Packaging Machines

Automation has come for every part of the packaging process – including the implementation of blister packaging. And at the moment, the best way to make the  process as seamless as possible is to use a blister packaging machine. 

These packaging machines have become especially prominent, especially with them working with the following principles: 

Feeding And Forming The Base Material 

In the case of pharmaceuticals, the first step in the operating pattern for blister packaging machines is to feed the base material into the machine. From there, the film passes through a heating station, where it becomes softer and takes on a pliable state. 

Next, the softened film heads to a forming station, where dies shape its film into proper blister cavities.

Load The Drug In 

With the blister cavities now being formed, you are free to load the drug product that you want to package. The drug is placed into each cavity, and this process is either done by  hand or with a feeding mechanism if the machine comes with that. 

The Drug Is Properly Sealed

Next, you feed the backing material into the machine. This material is usually a paperboard, a foil, or a plastic film, and from here, the sealing station allows enough heat and pressure to make the backing material bond to the blister. With this, you create a proper seal, ensuring that no form of pharmaceutical contamination is allowed. 

As you seal the blister package, you would need to cut the excess material. This way, you can create a uniform, clean edge across the board. Once again, this process can be done manually or automated – it all depends on if your machine allows it, really. 

Implement Proper Quality Control 

All through the packaging process, it’s important to have proper quality control steps. Check the seals to see if they’re defective, and make sure that your packaging is as accurate as possible. 

The Presence Of Automation Systems 

Even with the fact that they’re machines, blister packaging equipment tends to come with automation tools that help in making your job easier. The level of automation tends to differ, though, so you would want to be careful of that when making a choice. 

The Major Types Of Blister Packaging Machines

As a manufacturer, knowing just what type of tool to use in implementing your processes will be one of the most important things you can do. And when it comes to blister packaging, there’s no doubt that you have your pick of the litter. 

Below are the most prominent blister packaging forms, as well as what they do and the unique features that set them apart. 

Manual Blister Packaging Machines

First, we have the manual options, which as you would expect tend to work better for the lowest production grades. With these machines, you will need to conduct steps such as loading and cavity filling by yourself, so be ready to do a lot of heavy lifting. 

Semi-Automatic Blister Packaging Machines

If you need a proper mix of manual effort and automated operation, then the semi-automatic blister packaging machines are what you probably need. These machines automate a few aspects of the entire process, but you will still need to put in a little work on your end as well. 

Automatic Blister Packaging Machines

Then, we have the fully automated blister packaging machines. As you would expect, these machines do just about everything for you, meaning that you won’t have to do much work. Instead, your job is mainly to ensure quality across the board, so the process is easier overall. 

Rotary Blister Packaging Machines

These pieces of equipment will come with spinning carousels that transport the blister cavities through different stations. These stations handle processes such as filling, forming, and sealing, while the entire design makes accommodations for high-speed production.

Inline Blister Packaging Machines

Generally, the beauty of these machines is their linear configuration, which moves blister cavities in a straight line across the different processing steps. You can use them for mid and high-volume production, and they also make it possible for you to customize your work. 

Thermoforming Blister Packaging Machines:

With the thermoforming blister packaging machines, you make use of heat to form plastic sheets into cavities. If your packs have non-traditional shapes, then these machines are perfect for you. Interestingly, they tend to be the most prominent options for pharmaceutical companies. 

Blister Packaging Machine Configurations

We already covered the blister packaging machine types, so let’s examine some major configurations of this tool and how they differ. 

Roller Blister Packaging Machines

In the roller options, you have machines that use a set of rollers to form the cavities. The rollers apply just the right amount of heat and pressure to the material, creating the cavities based on the shape you’re looking to achieve. For uniformity and high-speed production, these machines work.

Flat Forming Blister Packaging Machines

These pieces of equipment use flat molds or plates to create the sheet or film, forming the  cavities themselves. You’d need to heat the plates to soften the material, then apply enough pressure to arrive at the cavity itself. This way, you can create different cavity designs as you need them.

Roller Plate Blister Packaging Machines

The roller plate machine actually serves as a hybrid of the former two options. These machines come with rollers that already have cavities formed on their surfaces, and they apply the heat and pressure to the plastic film as it passes through the machine. 

By combining the benefits of flat and roller forming techniques, these machines allow you to efficiently create packs with uniform cavities, while still being able to offer optimal customization across the board.

Applications in Pharmaceutical, Food, and Other Industries

It might seem like these machines only work in pharmaceuticals, but this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, blister packaging machines work in several spaces, since several industries actually make extensive use of packaging to work. Here’s a quick rundown: 

Drug Making & Pharmaceuticals 

Of course, we’ve got to start with the use of blister packaging in the making of drugs. Capsules, pills, etc. all need to be packaged properly, as this preserves the quality of what they hold.

Other Medical Tools

Blister packaging also helps in holding products like catheters, syringes, and surgical tools, maintaining their sterility and ensuring that they can be used when needed.

Everyday Consumer Products

For delicate consumer goods like cosmetics, batteries, and even kids’ toys, blister packaging can be a solid packaging option. So, the makers of these products need these machines. 

Applications In The Food Industry 

Chocolatiers, makers of candies, and the developers of other related products make use of blister packaging machines to make their confectioneries, using them to maintain freshness.

Vehicle Part Development 

When car makers build components such as screws, nuts, and washers, they use blister packaging machines to protect them during storage and movement.

Materials Used in Blister Packaging

One of the major reasons why a lot of manufacturers tend to appreciate blister packaging is the fact that it is quite flexible. And as a manufacturer, you can choose between different materials to work with across the board: 

  • PVC: The PVC material is probably the most popular for blister packaging. It’s clear and affordable, and it also protects against moisture and other elements. 
  • PP: Polypropylene is also flexible as a thermoplastic, offering clarity and resistance to chemicals.
  • PET: Known as polyethylene terephthalate, this material is tough and also has the benefit of being recyclable. As expected, it also forms a strong barrier against chemicals and more. 
  • PS: Polystyrene offers the benefits of being both light and tough. It resists impact as well, and it doesn’t cost so much. 
  • Aluminum Foil: If you want a backing material that prevents gases, moisture, and light, then you need to get some aluminum foil as your blister packaging medium.  

At the end of the day, there are several options available. You want to consider the material you are packaging, as well as the characteristics you are looking for from a packaging perspective, so you can make a proper choice. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Blister Packaging

Just like everything else in the packaging space, blister packaging is a bit of a double-edged sword. It offers a lot of benefits, but there are still a few things you would want to keep an eye on. Some of these include the following: 

What Blister Packaging Does For You 

It Protects Your Product: When done well, blister packaging offers optimal protection from factors such as light, moisture, and oxygen, so your product lasts longer.

Zero Tampering: Blister packaging will also bring in tamper-evidence, giving your users the assurance that no one has damaged the product before they buy it. 

The Transparency Factor: With blister packaging, you have a visible, transparent barrier that lets your customers see and inspect the product inside. 

No Stress With Access: It’s easy to open and handle blister packaging. Because of this, consumers enjoy a great deal of convenience across the board. 

Easily Customize Your Product: As a manufacturer, you get a lot of flexibility when it comes to blister packaging. It’s tailor-made, so you can determine the shape and size. 

Blister Packaging’s Disadvantages

The Environmental Impact: Materials like PVC might pose concerns for the environment since they’re not bio-degradable. 

Flexibility Isn’t Optimal: You also need to note that blister packaging isn’t suitable for every product. So, be sure to check its viability for you. 

The Cost Of Machines: Admittedly, blister packaging machines can cost some major cash. But, in the end, you definitely get enough bang for your buck.

Differences Between Strip and Blister Packaging

Both strip and blister packaging are popular methods with distinct features. Strip packaging consists of medication doses arranged in a single strip with easy-to-remove perforations, while blister packaging involves medications housed in plastic cavities sealed with backing material. Both offer optimal visibility and are sealed using heat or cold methods. Blister packaging excels in protection as each blister acts as an individual unit, ensuring product safety, whereas strip packaging offers convenience, particularly for multi-dose regimens due to its compact and easily transportable individual doses.

Choosing the Right Blister Packaging Machine

We already listed out the types of blister packaging machines above. And to be fair, different manufacturers also have their own twists on what the machines should be and how they should look. So, how should you as a user proceed? Well, here are a few factors that can help make things easier: 

How Much Can It Produce?

First, consider how much product you want to make – both now and potentially in the future. A packaging machine that can handle this should be your priority. 

Think About Automation

These days, manufacturers want seamless operation, and automation is the way to achieve this. Consider the automation level that works for you, and which makes you most productive. 

Does It Work With Your Material?

Another important factor here is material compatibility. The blister packaging machine needs to be compatible with the material you’re using for the process, so you don’t have quality issues. 

How Are You Sealing It? 

Think about the machine’s sealing method, and make sure to choose a method that offers enough seal strength and integrity across the board. 

Is It Reliable Enough? 

Mostly, this is a function of the manufacturer. Always make sure to work with reliable manufacturers, as this is the only way to ensure that the machine itself is of high quality. 

How Easy Is It To Operate? 

The ease of operation and maintenance for the packaging machine will also play a role in ensuring that you have a process that is as seamless and as reliable as possible.

How Much Is It?

Of course, evaluate your available budget and look into whether the machine will be affordable given your constraints. Remember to focus more on quality, however – blister packaging machines are an investment, and they tend to deliver value when selected correctly.

Conclusion

Packaging has always been a critical part of the production process for different products. And as you can imagine, blister packaging machines help to significantly optimize operations across the board. 

Reach out to us at Sainty Tec if you would like to learn more about these machines or get some for your setup.

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