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So you just got your hands on some packaging and you want to know if it's a good match for your product. Sounds like the perfect time to run some tests and do a little research! Taking the following small steps now can help save time, money, and frustration down the road. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are six things you should test to get started on your path to packaging bliss.
We recommend customers check temperature tolerances because different plastics can distort at specific temperatures. Not sure what temperature your packaging can handle? The best way is always to test! While it's no replacement for live field testing, you can also check out the plastic resin comparison guide, which shows distortion temperatures for each of the 6 plastic types. Make sure to take into account storage conditions in your facility, as well as shipping conditions and the conditions in which your customers will use the product.
Bottles and jars are run in different gram weights, which results in different wall thicknesses. Manufacturers will maintain a specific min/max wall thickness on their spec sheets. Wall thickness is important to check when using automated filling or labeling equipment. It also may affect product compatibility (some items with a thinner wall may panel, the bottle sucks in, faster than items with a thicker wall)
We provide a template with decoration dimensions for most of our items but it is important to note that these are only suggestions and often contain the max decoration area. A smaller portion of the area could technically be used, depending on preference and printer equipment. Also, it is important to check and make sure your label fits the decoration area, leaving a little bit of room for quality printing or label application. Make sure to check the container to see if it has a slight taper, as this will affect the label. All injection molded containers have a slight taper (PP and PS single wall and double wall containers).
This is probably the most important step! Make sure that your product fits well with the container, closure, liner, and decoration materials selected. Everyone's product formulation is unique, so you'll want to test your product and packaging together to make sure nothing unexpected or unpleasant occurs. When a product reacts with a particular plastic, it can cause paneling (the bottle sucks in) or other issues. Such reactions do not always happen right away. Sometimes it takes a few weeks or more to manifest the problem. There are testing methods to recreate the aging process quickly in a lab, but it is also a good idea to consider how the products will be stored and shipped in the long term and conduct testing accordingly. It’s also important to ensure the closures you select fit the container and function properly with your product. If you are using liners, check that they are creating your desired seal and do not become degraded by the product. You can learn more about this important step in our Compatability Testing Tips article.
Often times a customer asks for a certain size of container but doesn't realize that each manufacturer has a different overall capacity. We've seen 3 oz bottles that are actually closer in volume to 4 oz bottles once filled to overflow capacity. It is imperative to fill the bottle and evaluate the amount of space taken up with your product and ensure it is satisfactory to your expectations.
Last but not least, your packaging needs to comply with the standards and regulations of the industry, state, and country you are selling in. Some packaging options are completely fine for certain industries or jurisdictions, while others are not. For example, child-resistant packaging is not needed for many food storage items but may be required for cannabis or vaping. Each industry has different requirements, so it is important to do your research and make sure the packaging you select is acceptable. Remember that you are the expert of your product and its use, which makes you responsible for compliance. Additionally, some retailers have specific requirements with leak resistance, tamper evidence, child resistance, etc. and it’s important to research this ahead of time to know what your retailers are expecting from your packaging. If you want to learn more about general requirements for your industry, a good place to start is the National Institute of Standards and Technology.