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Blister Packs Vs Clamshells: Which Should You Choose?

Blister Pack Vs Clamshell

Choosing between blister packaging and clamshell packaging can be quite difficult as many people believe them to be the same thing. They are both made through the thermoforming process and can look quite similar on a shelf at a retail store. Nevertheless, it is important for you to understand the difference between the two, so you can make the best informed decision on the right packaging solutions you will need for your application.

Overview: Key Differences Between Blister Packs and Clamshells

Blister pack vs clamshell: What is the difference?

What is a Blister Pack?

A blister pack is a popular type of packaging that is used to seal product or products between thermoformed plastic cavities or a single cavity with the backing of a chipboard, paperboard, foil, or plastic. The sealed thermoform plastic is strong, rigid, and durable, making it capable of holding products in place. The backing of a blister pack can be used to prevent product tampering, add graphics, product visuals and information.

Blister Pack Applications

Blister packs are a versatile packaging solution used to packaging many consumer good products, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and cosmetics. Here is a list of popular blister pack applications:

  • Electronic goods
  • Toys (Hotwheels and action figures)
  • Small office supplies (pens, pencils, clips, and markers)
  • Batteries
  • Toothbrushes
  • DIY goods (screws, nails, nuts and bolts)
  • Pharmaceutical tablets and capsules
  • Products vulnerable to break or with delicate parts
  • Small cosmetic and personal care products (make-up, eyelashes, and cream)

Benefits of Blister Packaging

Blister packaging is an ideal packaging solution for many businesses looking to bring their products to market due to their benefits and features. Below are a list of benefits for packaging your products with blister:

  • Good product visual
  • Can hold multiple items
  • Good product protection
  • Product tampering resistant
  • Tightly secures product
  • Inexpensive
  • Clear visual of product

Blister Pack Features

Blister packs are customizable, which gives it a wide range of features you can take advantage of. Below are a list of features for blister packs:

  • Add custom graphics, logo, product information, and more
  • Custom cavities to hold and secure products
  • Hanging tabs
  • Fully sealed (cold or heat)
  • Print options (lithography, flexoprint, and digital print)
  • Thermoform material options: PET, HDPE, PP, and PVC
  • Backing material options: chipboard, paperboard, foil, and plastic
Different Types of blister packs

Blister Pack Style Options

Blister packs come in a variety of four options to better help you address your packaging needs. Below are a list of blister pack styles with their descriptions:

Face Seal

The traditional style of blister packs, face seals are popular for holding and protecting small or light-weight products, low-cost and ease of use.


Trap blisters is a blister pack sealed between two cards that holds a product within its custom cavity. These blisters are a good option for heavier and bigger products.

Full Face Seal

Full face seals provide products with extra durability and strength as the blister seal extends to the entire blister card. This type of blister is more expensive to produce, but provides consumers with a higher perceived value for the packaged product.

Mock Clamshell

Mock clamshells are a one piece blister, where the blister card is sealed to the back of the blister. Usually, mock clamshells are designed with a lip to provide extra strength and durability to the product.

Medical Blister Pack
custom blister pack medical

What is A Clamshell?

A clamshell is a type of packaging designed as a one-piece container with two separate halves joined together by a hinge, this enables the package to come together to close. Clamshells can be designed to be reusable, re-closeable, or sealed tight. The most common type of clamshell is made out of thermoform plastic, but it can also be with other materials.

Clamshell Applications

Clamshells are a popular packaging solution in the food, consumer goods, and industrial industries. Below is a list of everyday clamshell packaging applications:

  • Food products such as produce, pastries, herbs, and other food products.
  • Small tool sets
  • Lightbulbs sets and other electronics
  • Gift sets
  • Cosmetic sets
  • Use to package high end items
  • Hamburger clamshell boxes
  • Egg cartons and salad containers
  • Takeout containers

Benefits of Clamshell Packaging

Many businesses find it quite suitable and appealing in selecting clamshell packaging as their product solution for its benefits and capabilities. Below is a list of benefits for clamshell packaging.

  • Lightweight (good for freight costs)
  • Easy to recycle
  • Seals products from contamination
  • Can hold multiple items
  • A variety of materials and thicknesses available
  • Can be made with custom cavities to hold and secure products

Clamshell Features

Clamshells can be customized to fit your product needs. Below are just some of the features that make clamshells appealing:

  • Sealed or snap, tab resealable.
  • Clamshells can be sealed with label
  • Can be Stackable
  • Hanging tab
  • A visual can be inserted
  • Print options (lithography, flexoprint, and digital print)
  • Thermoform material options: PET, HDPE, PP, and PVC
  • Other material options include: chipboard, styrofoam, and paperboard. Available in a variety of thicknesses
  • Add custom graphics, logo, product information, and more to insert placed inside
Clamshell packaging for produce
chipboard clamshell containers
styrofoam clamshell

Clamshell Material Options

As mentioned earlier clamshells are primarily made with thermoform plastic, which can consist of plastics such as Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polypropylene (PP), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE). Thermoform applications can be used for industrial applications, food contact to prevent contamination and consumer goods. 

Other clamshell material options include: paperboard, chipboard, and styrofoam. 

Paperboard clamshells are recyclable and reusable material. They are primarily used to package grocery items and food products such as egg cartons.

Chipboard clamshells are lightweight, inexpensive, and recyclable. Typically they are used in restaurants to hold food. For example, a takeout box or a hamburger box.

Styrofoam clamshells, also known as polystyrene, are typically used for cold and warm food applications. For example, a styrofoam takeout container from a restaurant. 

Clamshells have a wide variety of materials options which makes it highly versatile to cover a lot of packaging applications.

custom personal care clamshell product

Which Should You Choose?

You should choose the packaging application that closely aligns with your product needs, budget, and goals. Blister packs and clamshells are quite similar in packaging applications to an extent. Both package consumer goods, retail products, cosmetics and electronics. However, by noticing key differences can help you select the right packaging for you.

Blister packs are ideal for products that are inexpensive, cannot be contaminated and/or need to be tightly sealed. Blister packs are largely associated more with pharmaceutical and medical applications. In addition, if you are focusing a lot more on visuals to capture and acquire your consumers, then blister packs may be your solution.

Clamshells are typically used to package products that need to be stacked, high-end, and do not require to be tightly sealed. They are used most often in the food industry.

If you are interested in packaging solutions for blister packs or clamshells, then contact Brown Packaging today to get started.

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