What is Flexible Packaging? Exploring the Technology and Materials Used

Flexible wrappers come as highly customizable and economical means to pack products, avoiding rigid containers. Although the technology appeared relatively recently, it has already managed to gain incredible popularity in the packaging market. Nowadays, about 2/3 of all covers produced for product packing belong to this class of wrappers. 90% of produced packages are used to wrap beverages and food. 39% of the global packaging market is occupied by flexible covers.

Flexible Packaging

The success of flexible wrappers is due to their high functionality and convenience. Such covers feature high preservation of product freshness and the needed climate inside packages, ease of transportation, carrying, and opening, etc. Thus, they came to replace bulky rigid containers.

Now, you know what makes flexible plastic packaging popular. Before we go deeper into the industry and outline its peculiarities, let us first answer the question: what is flexible plastic packaging? Flexible packaging is a modern packaging solution that utilizes pliable materials, such as plastic and film, to create a wide range of pliable product containers. Flexible plastic packaging offers a cost-effective and adaptable packaging option for a wide range of products, especially food and beverages.

Brief Flexible Packaging Industry Overview

More and more manufacturers have shifted to using flexible wrappers for packing their products. Thus, the class of covers enters more and more industries. Nowadays, such wrappers are in high demand in the following domains:

  • food (finished, semi-finished, ready-to-eat);
  • beverages (soft, hard, etc.);
  • cosmetic products and pharmaceuticals;
  • personal care;
  • household cleaning products.

Due to a vast range of options, it is possible to pick suitable solutions for any type of product. Flexible packaging can be used for chemicals, food, and non-edible products. Suitable wrappers are chosen, taking into account the physical properties and vulnerabilities of the packed product. In this case, such covers ensure durable and safe storage without loss of physical strength.

How is Flexible Packaging Made?

To have a clear outlook on the topic, it is important to answer the question “What is flexible packaging industry”. The flexible packaging industry is a modern and innovative sector that produces a variety of pliable product containers using non-rigid materials, such as plastic and foil.

Flexible packaging offers many advantages over traditional rigid packaging, such as cost-effectiveness, environmental friendliness, product protection, consumer convenience, and design flexibility. The flexible packaging industry is one of the fastest-growing segments in the global packaging market and has a significant impact on various industries, especially food and beverage, personal care, and pharmaceutical. The list of components for wrappers is an essential part of the technological process. Below, you’ll see what materials are commonly used in flexible packaging manufacturing.

  1. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and the linear one (LLDPE). This type of material allows for the production of lightweight containers of big volumes. Containers feature high resistance to moisture, physical impacts, and chemicals. Thus, LDPE bottles are suitable for pouring all sorts of liquids, including chemicals. LLDPE comes as a highly durable subtype; it is used for packing frozen raw food (fish), large palettes, and consignments. LLDPE features high resistance to tearing, which allows for wrapping units of parcels.
  2. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET, PETE). This material is 100% recyclable, strong, light, and resistant to environmental influences. It does not let gas and moisture penetrate the content. The material is used for the production of bottles, jars, and trays for food and beverages.
  3. Polypropylene (PP). Good resistance to high temperatures and a high melting point are the main characteristics that determine its sphere of use. Containers are used for hot-fill liquids. The variety of applications includes the food industry (yogurts), medical appliances, and automotive machines.
  4. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC, Vinyl). Although it is brittle, the material features high protection of the content from outside impacts. The material is in great demand in the medical, electronic, healthcare, and automobile industries.
  5. Polyolefin (POF). This material is widely used in the food industry since it is food-safe, which is approved by FDA. Besides, it is sustainable and 100% recyclable, which makes it eco-friendly. Such covers feature a high oxygen barrier, due to which candies and other food can be stored durably.
  6. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE). It is a polyethylene thermoplastic that keeps its shape perfectly. Due to its favorable conditions for processing, it is possible to produce different types of containers, from rigid boxes and bottles to flexible bags.

Frequently, combinations of several materials are used. Answering the question “How is flexible packaging made”, keep in mind the specifics of each type. Depending on the cover kind, different technologies and processing methods are applicable.

Types of Flexible Packaging

Considering the issue of flexible packaging technology, it is necessary to understand what types of containers are manufactured. The following kinds of wrappers can be produced:

  1. Sample Pouches. Such covers are made from heat-sealed foil or film and are usually pre-formed.
  2. Printed Pouches. These wrappers have specific marketing information about a manufacturer, product, etc.
  3. Sachets. These are small flat packets with a portioned amount of a product. They are perfect for trade shows for the distribution of sample products.
  4. Printed Roll Stock. It is a long roll of wrappers for future filling. It is delivered to a client unformed. The client cuts, fills, and seals them on site.
  5. Stock Bags. Simple blank bags are used for further application of marketing info, labels, and logos.

Advantages of Flexible Wrappers

Finally, let’s briefly outline the benefits of packing products using flexible covers:

  1. Raw material efficiency and low expenses   Such wrappers require  fewer materials.
  2. Sustainability. Most types of flexible covers are recyclable, which allows for reducing the amount of waste.
  3. Unique designs and high customization. It is possible to design any logo and apply different types of illustrations. Vivid wrappers attract consumers and help manage their behavior and sales.
  4. Prolonged shelf life. Flexible containers create and preserve the optimal climate inside packages, while allows for guaranteeing product freshness and prolonging its shelf life.
  5. Improved functionality. The use of transparent windows, handles, zippers, latches, etc. allows for making them more functional.
  6. Low expenses on shipment. Since packages are flexible and compact, they occupy less space.

So, here, you’ve not only found out the answer to the question “What is flexible packaging material” but also got a comprehensible outlook of the industry. You’ll be ready to find a suitable packaging option for your product and satisfy customers with its quality.