Nowadays, almost any produced or assembled industrial item must withstand unfavourable conditions during the transport from branch plants or suppliers up to their destination. The articles are handled, unloaded and loaded multiple times on the way. Additionally, mechanical shocks, friction and spillage may occur at any time during the trip. For this reason, a well-designed package can make the difference between a safe and a damaging trip.
Thermoformed blisters trays
Thermoformed trays and blisters allow each item to be kept in its own precisely-shaped nest. The packing solution prevents the products from touching each other or any potentially damaging surfaces. Operators arrange the trays and blisters in larger returnable packaging such as VDA-KLTs. The applications may include other reusable injected containers or even cardboard boxes. The containers are shipped enclosed between a pallet and a pallet lid. The resulting packing unit offers maximum stability and protection of the goods during handling, storing and shipping.
Multiple layers of products generate a high number of products per packing unit. The gained volume translates into substantial savings in storage and transport. By placing a larger quantity of parts in the same packing unit, the beneficiary also saves unused space, which can sometimes occur with standard packaging. Furthermore, the workspace remains clean and tidy. This is because additional fixing or protecting elements – such as paper or foam – are not required to pack the items individually.
The thermoformed trays for transport additionally keep the shipping products clean. In the case of other individual packaging methods (cardboard, paper), the generated waste can affect the overall appearance of the delivered goods. Also, tiny scraps of material can get into the packed parts or components. Thermoformed trays give products a professional, neat appearance without affecting the content. The trays can also be washed whenever necessary over time.
When the product’s height permits, our customers can opt for stackable thermoformed component holders. This allows them to store more products using the same surface area. The sensitive parts are completely protected from dust and pollution. So only the top-most layer must be covered with a lid.
Rotary stackable trays
Operators can stack rotating stackable thermoformed trays one on top of another when full of products. But once the items are removed, they can nest the empty vacuum formed component holders inside each other with only a simple 180° rotation. This way, companies save up to 80% of the storage and return transport volume.
Thermoformed intermediate layers represent a base and a lid in one solution. This allows the same tray to accommodate the parts and also sit onto the products from the tray below. Its construction is challenging and makes use of an egg-tray principle. Firstly, the nests are designed according to the parts. Then the base contour of the component holder is shaped to fit precisely onto the underneath layer. As a result, the trays can be stacked interconnected on top of each other.
Frames with interchangeable inserts
For companies that regularly use specific tray dimensions, thermoformed frames with interchangeable inserts can be highly beneficial. These are stackable component holders. They combine an existing standardized frame with an individually fitted base insert for the intended products. The frame is distinguished by its special contour. This contour allows precise positioning. The purpose is to deploy the thermoformed component holders on automatic conveyor systems as well. The frame is reused as often as required and for any compatible inserts.
The manufacturing industry has used robotic processes for decades when assembling, testing, handling or packing components. For highly automated production and warehousing environments, we can design thermoformed trays with various openings. Additionally, their frames can be optimized for gripper arms.
We can provide all trays with various cavities that allow access for the operator’s fingers to remove the parts. Recesses or handle slots further facilitate manual handling and tray removal from the container. Bevelled or differently designed corners ensure anti-twist protection. Optionally, cutouts and TPU coatings can protect very sensitive parts. Angled frames provide water-repellant features. Oil-resistant materials are also available.
Thermoformed packaging is a protective and cost-effective solution for high volumes of goods that the operators must pack individually. The most suitable products to be packed are small or medium-sized ones. Thermoformed packaging includes trays, blisters, inserts, and component holders. The range comprises intermediate layers, containers and lids as well. These are all completely tailor-made industrial solutions. The production process is based exclusively on customer requirements and product specifications.
Vacuum formed trays and inserts offer almost unlimited configuration possibilities. Their dimensions and thicknesses can vary, depending on the parts to be placed inside and the optimization of their number. Additionally, the trays must also fit the standard crates and containers that each company uses for the respective application. Design possibilities include self-supporting trays and intermediate layers that can sit on the underneath products.
Transformation process – from plastic sheets to thermoformed trays
Thermoforming transforms a straight plastic heated sheet of an even thickness into a 3-dimensionally shaped one. This conversion makes use of vacuum and pressure. Our technology is based on vacuum forming. We heat the plastic sheet to an optimal moulding temperature. The sheet is then shaped on a 3D mould by sucking (vacuuming) the air between the plastic sheet and the mould.
We construct the 3D mould following precisely the shape of the products that must be placed inside the tray. We analyze every aspect of using the tray, stacking it or inserting it into another packaging. We consider the sensitive parts of the items, the optimization of their number per tray or any specific requirements. Even the nest positioning is designed using the available space at the maximum.
Every thermoforming project goes through a complex design process. Then it is followed by the execution of the provisional and final mould. The last step of the process is the actual production. The customer can first test a sample of the nest and then the complete tray before series production. In this way, the resulting trays and blisters provide cavities that optimally secure and protect the parts during handling and transport.
We offer our customers a variety of marking options to facilitate product placement or visual identification. Embossing, for example, can help to quickly and safely identify the product or the package type. Customization options play an important role in reducing or even eliminating damages and operational errors. This refers to trays with handling indications or directional markings. Such features help the operator avoid misplacement of products (poka-yoke). Also, inserting different-coloured strips on the tray (during the production process) will mark the stacking direction.
Features, advantages and benefits
Thermoformed plastic trays offer an optimal balance between workability, content protection and price, often lower than injection moulded packaging or other packing products. They are produced with minimal raw material consumption. They also offer high recyclability.
Thermoformed trays are:
- Impact and deformation resistant
- Lightweight yet sturdy
- Longlive even under repetitive use
- Weather resistant
Thermoformed trays stand out for:
- Safe and stable packing
- Reduced handling
- Increased operating speed
- Excellent stackability
- High packing density
- Damage reduction
Thermoformed trays can be produced from material sheets with an initial thickness of 0.4 – 10 mm. This allows the accommodation of parts and components from numerous industrial segments. Most of our customers come from automotive, electronics and other parts-manufacturing industries. Commonly used materials are PS (HIPS), ABS, PP, PE and PC. In the case of electronic components, the trays are produced from electrically conductive materials and blends. This offers protection against electrostatic discharge. If desired, the trays are made from static dissipative materials. For the medical industry, PET-G material is a transparent, aesthetic and hygienic option.
When the project allows the trays to travel into a loop, we recommend that our customers use returnable thermoformed trays. This is a more cost-effective investment. Additionally, it is a friendlier solution for the environment. These versions have stiffer frames for stackability. They also prevent the trays from slipping into each other. Typical applications include fuel pumps, stators and wheel bearing sensors. With the right design features, they are also suitable for automatic assembly machines and for robot handling. Reusable thermoformed trays can be designed even in heavy-duty versions for packing and transporting larger or heavier workpieces.
There are many applications where the trays are intended for short-term use. And sometimes, their recovery is not a viable solution. These can be too difficult to take back, or the costs simply exceed the price of new trays. In this situation, it is required to develop trays for one-way trips. Also called blisters, these are disposable thermoformed trays. At the end of their life span, such blisters can be recycled. Designed with the minimum thickness – often less than 1 mm – they still comply with all product and application safety requirements. Thermoformed blisters can accommodate different nozzles, sensors or printed circuit boards. They, too, are available in stackable, nestable and even collapsible designs. We offer our support for both large and small series projects.