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Value Added Packaging

Wed, 05/18/2011 - 11:01am
Shem Fischer

The demands on medical device packaging experts have increased as new options have been made available to OEMs. Environmental and energy concerns have also contributed. This article looks at how one packaging specialist is offering solutions to the industry.

 

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Thermoform packaging being produced on machine
The past ten years have opened up a world of possibilities for medical package providers. These possibilities can be attributed to healthcare, government, consumers, and conservation groups concerned about energy consumption and the environment. In response to these demands, engineered materials have been developed in conjunction with manufacturing techniques yielding packaging films with greater values in oxygen transfer rates (OTR), water transfer rates, and moisture vapor transfer rates (MVTR). An increased demand for sustainable packaging has also been addressed by partnering with reputable companies that have a solid track record for bringing new, effective products to the market. As such, several advanced thermoform packaging films are now available and ready to serve the demands for innovative medical packaging. The goal is to continue employing manufacturing advancements as the call for efficiency, effectiveness, and change is answered.
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Examples of thermoformed trays, blister packaging with films, and form fill seal packaging

Cyclic Olefin Copolymer (COC) is a resin that was introduced for packaging films in 2003. This resin has been used in the medical industry as a resin of choice for many years due to high water vapor barrier, high optical clarity, and low extractable properties. OraTech has co-developed films containing COC combined with other polymers, delivering a profound engineered barrier with excellent product/packaging results.

Further, the company has teamed up with key partners to offer as many as nine independent layers co-extruded into one film. Typically, each layer is bounded with a tie layer. This is different than the conventional lamination process that utilizes adhesives to bind each film layer together. These adhesives used in traditional lamination potentially can pose issues with product stability, migration, and biocompatibility. Eliminating the adhesive reduces variables, which is always welcome in the realm of medical packaging.

 

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Thermoformed packaging for tray of medical devices
Having the ability to co-extrude various polymers into one custom designed film structure enables an optimum product to be engineered that satisfies precise client needs, performance, and regulatory requirements. For example; for a product requiring a low MVTR with excellent thermoforming properties, co-extruding a COC-based film structure would be recommended. For low OTR requirement, an EVOH-based (ethylene vinyl alcohol) or PVdC-based (polyvinylidene chloride) film structure could be selected. When considering a product requiring both low MVTR and OTR, a combination of the previously discussed performance structures would be an optimal choice.
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A medical device package using various polymer layers for film structure

Shem Fischer is the manager of medical contract manufacturing/packaging at OraTech. He is responsible for sales and marketing. Fischer can be reached at 801-619-0282 or sfischer@oratech.com.

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