Monday, 19 November 2018

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Different Types of Healthcare Packaging and its Materials

Packaging is the process in which a product is being protected from outside forces to be shipped and for the product not to be damaged. In addition, when it comes to healthcare packaging, the process must be more delicate and precise. The product must be well sanitized and it must go through several regulations. There are several types of healthcare packaging. They have to be designed differently in order for the products to be fully protected and prevent damages. One type of healthcare packaging is known as blister packaging. Blister packaging is used for capsules and it is used to protect the product from contamination. They can either have a peel-able layer or a push-through lidding to access the package according to Triad Magnetics.

The packages use different materials and concepts in order to be more useful for the situation. For example, water-soluble packaging is useful because the packaging dissolves in water, which makes it more practical for the product to make contact with water without being taken out of the package, such as nutritional supplements. Thus, whenever you need to place a product that needs to dissolve in water, instead of taking it out the package you can just drop the whole thing in a cup of water and wait for it to dissolve and then take the medication. Medical products also use medical polymer films to protect against contaminants and maintain the products’ integrity, because contamination would cause the product to not be as efficient as it should be. If they were pills, it would not be safe to take them because they are exposed. The package should be easy to open. Being able to access the product inside the package is an important part of the package just in case the product is needed immediately.

Aluminum is used in packages. It is used as a barrier against light, oxygen, and moisture. Most of the times it is applied as a foil to the package. Another important factor of healthcare packaging is the seal of the package. If the product is not sealed properly, then it is not sterile anymore and it will have to go through the sterilizing process again. So, most of the packages are heat sealed so they can remain seal and be easily opened. Some of the factors that affect the seal are pressure, temperature, and dwell. The temperature could cause the seal to open or even make the seal too tight to open and of course if pressure is applied by any other object it will penetrate the package.

Healthcare packaging uses technology to its advantage. They have developed a Unique Device Identification (UDI). This helps to keep track of the package and also analyze the package without having to open it. They place barcode or QR code in order to scan the package and see the data. The picture below shows the type of machinery or scanning device that they use.

The packaging industry changes over time and materials can become expensive. Luckily, the marketplace is minimizing materials and costs by using thinner and less expensive materials. The process of healthcare packaging uses several materials to make sure that the product is sanitized and remains sterilized. It consists of a combination of paper, film and foils. That way the product can be wrap and remain protected. Several of the healthcare products are used for surgeries and they must be applied to human skin and bones. That means that the product must remain sterile and clean for the convenience of the patient. If the package is opened, then doctors will not use it because it may be contaminated or damage in some way. Also, the packages must be easy to open because that facilitates doctors or nurses to open the package more easily and they can avoid wasting time. Many of the implant products use multi-compartmental trays. These trays are designed so that the product is stable and protected. The trays are molded in the shape that the implant has to fit perfectly and reduce the risks of damage.

Another method that is used for the materials that healthcare packaging uses is called coextrusion. It is when two or more polymers are often coextruded through a single die to form a multilayer film structure. This structure is stronger and more protective of the product. Since the layers are thicker, the package is least likely to rip or open. Lamination is another method that they use to help the film structure be more effective. Lamination is created when two or more individual films are bonded together with special adhesives and run through rolling, heated cylinders to produce a composite film structure according to medical device and diagnostics industry.

Thus, the process of packaging consists on designing the package for the products, using the right materials such as polymers and films, making sure that the package passes all required tests and is sterilized and lastly be shipped out. It may sound like an easy process, but it is more complicated and delicate than it sounds. If a package fails, then they must figure out how to make the package work and fix it. If the package is opened or penetrated, then it must be sterilized again in order for the product to be in its best condition.

The different designs of the package play a big role in the product because they are the ones that keep the product safe and stable. They protect it from the contamination, vibration, pressure, humidity, temperature and shock. Everyday packaging engineers are trying to design a better package using technological advances.

The most critical part of a package is the seal. This is especially true in healthcare packages. This could cause the product to be shipped back or not even used and that could mean serious trouble in some cases. That is why implants are packed in multi-compartmental trays. Thus, they can be secured and well protected. Each healthcare product has its own packaging for its convenience and for that of the buyer.

References

Allen, Daphne. “Top7 Trends in Healthcare Packaging.” Packaging Digest. 9 December 2016. 7 October 2017

Bockserman, Robert J. “Innovation in Polymer Films for Medical Packaging.” Medical Device Diagnostics Industry. 1 July 1996. 7 October 2017.

“Lamination.” Graphic Products at Canon Slade School. 12 October 2017.

“Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Packaging.” Marden Edwards Overwrapping Technology. 7 October 2017.

“Types of Medical Packaging - A ThomasNet Buying Guide.” Triad Magnetics. 12 October 2017.

“Creating Quality Medical Packaging by Working with an Experienced Materials Converter.” Fabrico a Division of EIS. 12 October 2017.

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