Industry knowledge
What Difference Between Flexible Packaging and Rigid Packaging

2021-07-23 14:19:36

Both flexible and rigid packaging have a wide range of uses in the present packaging industry. They have exclusive, as well as overlapping areas of application. The differences, however, lie in construction, durability, customizability, and pliability.

Weight and Size of Packaging

When it comes to the weight of the packaging, rigid packaging is heavier than flexible packaging. That’s because rigid packaging is often made from denser and thicker materials. For example, paperboard boxes, tin cans, or glass bottles. Flexible packaging such as sealed pouches, on the other hand, uses lighter materials such as plastic or polypropylene.

The size of the packaging depends on the requirements. Rigid packages generally take up more space as they cannot be squeezed together when bundled. Rigid packaging is meant to prevent the deformation of its inner contents. Flexible packages are flat, can bend easily or be bundled together to save space. This makes flexible kraft paper or poly mailers the go-to solutions to ship soft goods.

Durability and Barrier Properties

Rigid packaging better protects its contents. But, it’s prone to external deformation. For example, the surface can be easily dented or scratched, damaging the surface or print. Flexible packaging does not dent or deform easily. Although such packs could be damaged during shipping if pierced by a sharp object, flexible packaging is less likely to be affected by cosmetic abrasion.

Fragile products are usually shipped using rigid packaging. Electronic items— such as computer processors, smartphones, cameras, televisions— come in rigid packaging coupled with protective packaging like styrofoam or air pillows. In all these cases, the cost of rigid packaging is often a very small fraction of the actual product cost.

Flexible packaging is often used in low-cost products in the food and cosmetics industry. Chips, biscuits, bread, milk, frozen food, sauces, creams – all come in flexible packaging.
Flexible Packaging in the Food Sector:

Flexible packaging is dominating flexible food packaging trends. That’s because of its protective properties. For example, retort pouches are becoming increasingly popular owing to their construction. They are made up of multiple layers of polymers and often metalized sheets, such as aluminium. This offers chemical and thermal shielding to the products on the inside. The pack offers an air-tight barrier, prevents exposure to light and heat, and is temperature tolerant to help retain the freshness of its contents. A classic example is the Paper Boat pouch that’s broken the conventional trend of using rigid cartons for beverages to adopt flexible packaging.

However, there are exceptions too. The Pringles packaging, for instance, is rigid packaging made from tin and cardboard, with an inner layer that offers great protection.

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