While the most common type of thermoformed packaging for industrial applications is a heavy duty thermoformed tray, other options include clamshells, lids for returnable sleeve packs made from plastic corrugated, and pallets. Whichever you choose to use depends entirely upon what you want it to do. Choosing a method that conforms specifically to your needs can help save money in the long run, since your product will be packaged according to exact specifications. Here is a list of some other ways to save money using heavy gauge thermoforming:
1. Before placing an order, provide a sample of the product to be packaged to your supplier. This way, your supplier can design trays that meet the exact specifications of your product. You’ll also get a more accurate, better-designed initial quote.
2. Plan ahead. Because thermoformed trays are typically custom-made, it can take a bit longer to fill an order. If you wait until the last minute to order, you will incur a lot of charges that could be avoided if you planned ahead.
3. Determine whether or not you can stack additional weight on top of your product. If this is possible, your thermoformed trays will not need to be as deep. This means smaller trays made with less plastic, which means a substantial cost savings for you.
4. Order thermoformed trays that are stackable and nestable, so they will stack on top of each other when loaded with product, and nest inside each other when empty. These take up less space, are easier to store, and also can help save money on shipping costs.
5. Have trays marked with a one-inch stripe on their sides. This will help operators identify when a tray is fully loaded or empty, which can save time and labor costs.
6. Before production, ask for concept sketches and dimensions of your thermoformed trays. This way, everyone will be clear on what is required versus what is being ordered and produced. It there is an error, it is easier to fix during concept design rather than after the returnable packaging is already produced.
7. Make a production tool instead of a wood prototype tool for thermoformed trays. Prototype tooling is time consuming – it can take up to two weeks! Production tooling can be modified and adjusted, speeding up overall design and production time. This also saves from having to pay the additional cost of a wooden prototype, which is completely useless after the job is completed.
8. Once tooling is complete, evaluate plastic thicknesses by having thermoformed tray samples made. If your product can be supported by a thinner material, save money by ordering thinner plastic.
9. Stamp thermoformed trays with an identification mark with company name, address, phone number, and other important information. This will ensure the returnable packaging is returned to the correct address.
10. When you no longer need your thermoformed trays or they become obsolete, ask suppliers to buy them back for recycling. The price paid will be a scrap value, but anything is better than nothing!
In closing, heavy gauge thermoforming is a cost effective and efficient form of returnable packaging. These tips will help you communicate with your packaging producer and keep your costs to a minimum.