Which is better – clamshell or blister packaging?

Our customers regularly ask for recommendations on types of packaging, so we thought we’d make some basic info available on our blog as FAQs…

Clamshell and blister packaging are both similar types of display packaging and each method has pros and cons.

Clamshell packaging is pre moulded using a thermoforming process (where a plastic sheet is heated to a pliable forming temperature, formed to a specific shape in a mould, and trimmed).  It can be specifically shaped to your product and/or formed into a range of shapes for specific display objectives; for example, custom tri-fold (triangular-shaped) clamshells that can sit on a shelf, stand in a display or hang on a peg rack.

Easy-Open Clamshell Packaging; source: Wikipedia

Clamshell packs are better suited to high volume product packing and can offer high levels of tamper-proofing, however product packaging with a clamshell pack does require expensive tooling.  There is significant and growing consumer dislike for clamshell packaging (Wrap Rage) but easy-open tabs can be added to custom pack designs to counteract this issue.

Blister packs generally consist of a plastic front (produced mechanically shrinking film over a mold) and cardboard back, with the product effectively sandwiched in-between. You get the product visibility of a clamshell combined with better ease-of-opening.  The backing cards offer an excellent cost-effective branding opportunity and are sufficiently durable for most lighter-weight products.

Both blister packaging and clamshell packaging can be manufactured with EIPPA approved materials.

So essentially, neither is better, they are similar but have differing strengths.  Clamshells offer the highest level of tamper-proofing and can be designed to offer a broad range of point-of-sale display options,  consumers dislike them but perhaps not enough to refrain from buying something they want.

Blister packs offer a similar ‘window’ onto your product but with a higher percentage of the pack made from cardboard.  Availability of plastics recycling still varies across the UK so cardboard packaging has compelling merits from an environmental perspective.  For smaller and/or less expensive items, this is a very suitable option.