PCL was recently hired by a client to conduct a transit study per ASTM D4169 on a newly developed product line. After the “shake rattle and roll” was complete, samples were brought into our controlled environment room and subjected to tests including visual inspection (ASTM F1886), bubble leak testing (ASTM F2096) and seal strength testing (ASTM F88).
Bubbles emanating from a hole in the pouch film
During testing, multiple samples failed bubble leak testing, indicated by a steady stream of bubbles emanating from the pouch film. PCL contacted the client, who made the trip to our lab to review the samples. PCL evaluated the failures with our client, reviewing each sample in great detail. After evaluation, it was determined that the root cause of the integrity failures was caused by the flange of a thermoformed tray sealed inside of the pouch. Movement experienced during the vibration portion of transit caused the tray flange to rub repeatedly against the pouch and the wall of the shipper box, slowly creating a hole in the film.
With the cause of the failures identified, the next step was to determine the best path forward. The client had invested significantly in production tooling and inventory of the current packaging system, creating an interesting challenge. The ideal scenario was to solve the problem without forcing the client to scrap inventory or investing modifications to tooling. We had our work cut out for us…
PCL collaborated with the client and determined that rotating the pouch around the tray could be a possible solution to the problem. This allowed the flange of the tray to rub against the Tyvek portion of the pouch, which is more robust than the thin film. With all parties in agreement, it was time to put the solution to the test by running another transit study. In an effort to fully support our client, we handled all activities pertaining to the study. PCL received devices and packaging to the lab where we assembled the new configuration and boxed everything up into the appropriate configuration. The new samples were then subjected to drops, compression and vibration before the moment of truth – bubble leak testing. We held our breath as the lab technicians submerged the first pouch under water and began inflating it with air. The sample passed! All remaining samples were then subjected to the bubble leak test and all of them passed, too. We had achieved success without making any physical changes to the packaging or associated tooling.
PCL is your one stop shop for root-cause analysis of packaging failures. We can work with your team, or as your team, whichever is preferred. Our group of skilled packaging engineers will identify the issue, determine the cause, offer suggestions and/or design improvements, and test all options to determine the best path forward. If you’ve had issues or concerns with performance of a packaging component or a particular design, let us take a look at it. Chances are, we’ve probably seen something similar in the past and can offer solutions to help build confidence in your product-package system.