The benefits of sealed trays compared to pouches and clamshells

Sealed trays offer benefits that pouches and clamshell packaging cannot. The major advantage is product protection. A sealed tray protects a medical device for the entirety of its shelf life—through the sterilization process, shipping and distribution, storage, and ultimately, until the product is opened under sterile conditions and used in a medical setting.

For instance, many medical devices have to be unsealed and presented in a controlled manner by scrub nurses to surgeons in the operating room. Sealed trays are much better suited for this compared to flexible pouches. With a sealed tray, the nurse can peel off the lid to expose the medical device positioned in a rigid, robust platform. In certain instances, the sealed tray is designed so that the medical device can be presented in a specific way. In other instances, once the tray is opened it becomes part of the product preparation, serving as an area for mixing chemicals before a stent is placed in an artery, for example.

Pouches and clamshell packages cannot be used in the same way. Pouches do not have the rigid structure of a tray, and clamshells cannot maintain product sterility, nor offer easy opening. The main disadvantage to tray sealing is the cost. Sealed trays usually cost more than pouches.

Why the use of tray sealing is trending upward

The use of tray sealing is trending upward for two main reasons.

First, compared to pouches, sealed trays can offer better protection over a product’s entire shelf life. Second, many manufacturers are moving to tray sealing because there is a growing perception that products packaged in trays have a higher value than those packaged in pouches. Of course, manufacturers that want to move to tray sealing will need to re-evaluate their heat sealers. Achieving a hermetic bond between the lid and the tray requires an exceptionally flat and parallel sealing platform, as well as the highly regulated and consistent application of temperature and pressure.