Have you ever wondered how they make medicinal packages? Drugs usually fit perfectly into their strips, bottles or sachets, thus forming an ideal dose for the patient to take in. This is of course due to all kinds of safety regulations, but still: how do they do it, producing such a tight fit for such widely varying shapes and sizes of medicine? Since drugs are such a delicate product to handle, manufacturers along the production chain must approach the medicine with care. It is very important that the manufacturer closely monitors the entire process of producing and packaging the medical products and makes sure sterile handling and impeccable hygiene are aptly included as part of the workflow. One of the hygienic and sterile ways to create custom-made pharmaceutical packaging is by using a method called thermoforming. Thermoforming is a term made up of the elements thermal (referring to warmth or heat) and forming (meaning shaping, as any native English speaker will realize). Thermoforming, therefore, means as much as ‘shaping by means of heat’. This is especially useful when dealing with materials that change from a solid to a more moldable state when exposed to heat. Part of the process is placing the material in an oven and heating it up. The material subsequently becomes more flexible, so that the manufacturer can mold it in the desired shape. Plastics, for example, belong to the category of materials useful for thermoforming. This technique is widely used for a variety of materials and for a wide array of purposes and applications.
Thermoforming in the pharmaceutical industry
The type of thermoforming most used in the pharmaceutical industry is thin gauge thermoforming. People usually apply this specific technique to produce any plastic packages that will contain food or pharmaceutics. The machines shaping the packages need sheets of plastic as their main resource. These sheets pass through the machinery, which heats the material and shapes it into the mold of a pill strip, for example. For the pharmaceutical industry, thermoforming has a great advantage, because it sterilizes the plastic before the packing process continues. Moreover, thermoforming is a very speedy process, capable of delivering several thousands of readily elements per hour. One can imagine how beneficial this is for an industry, which thrives on the sale of many small products (such as pills, powders and syrups) to a large crowd of customers. The term vacuum forming means as much as thermoforming, especially when used in the context of the pharmaceutical industry. Right after the machinery shapes the plastic, it extracts the air from the package, leaving it vacuum. For the purposes of medicine safekeeping, this is an extremely useful step, because it noticeably extends the shelf life of the product. This, in turn, is a very useful trait when the drugs at hand must travel across borders to reach their target groups. With carefully packaged medicine, the drug developer is thus able to reach bigger markets with his product. This, however, is only a responsible thing to do when the pharmaceutics have packages that protect them very well. Usually this entails keeping the contents dry, dark and cool, even in different climates. Since thermoforming is such a flexible way of shaping material, the packaging manufacturer is able fully to comply with the wishes and demands of the drug developer. Summing up, here are some of the pros of thermoforming in the pharmaceutical industry:
- fast production rate
- sterile production environment
- guaranteeing long and safe shelf life
- enhancing possibility of broader markets for client
- possibility of creating any desired shape and size
Order packaging machinery
For manufacturers of medicine who wish to control the packaging of their products themselves, there are dealers who deliver the required machinery in order to do so. This way, a company can order thermoforming machines to take up this method of packaging themselves. The dealer also has the responsibility to offer the appropriate climate systems, so that the client can adequately perform climate control in the packaging area. This is the optimal way of adding thermoforming to workflow of the drug developer himself. The equipment dealer will of course be constantly available for any questions regarding the machinery. In addition, when the client encounters trouble with the equipment, they should get in touch with the dealer. Because producing medicine packages is often a very precise business, the thermoforming equipment dealer offers very specialized and customized machinery for every client. Do you need a pill strip for six pills of half a centimeter wide? No problem. Or would you rather have sachets for 600 milligrams of powdered medicine? The dealer takes care of that for you. So when you are considering ordering large amounts of custom-made medical packages or when you would like to purchase the required machinery yourself, you can get in touch with the dealer. They have locations throughout Europe and are thus able to assist you wherever you have your office. When you get in touch, they will discuss your specific wishes and circumstances with you and run through the possibilities. When both parties have reached a decision on an order, the dealer will send the client an invoice and the delivery commences. Of course, there will always be an expert on stand-by in case some parts do not work as they should or other technical trouble occurs. In any case, the client can excellently incorporate thermoforming into one’s own workflow and production process.