Packaging Terms

Blister Packaging

A hard, rigid shell called a “blister”, which is typically made out of PVC or PET material, encapsulates a product and then is secured to a blister card.  The sealing process is done with a blister packaging machine and custom seal tooling which heats the back of the blister card in the flange area of the blister to activate the adhesive coating.  Blister packaging is a very popular packaging option for a retail product.

Clamshell Packaging

Two halves of a thermoformed PVC or PET material to encapsulate a product for retail.  A printed graphic or “insert” card is used inside the rigid clamshell to help market the product.  There are several clamshell design options including hinged, 2 piece and tri-fold.  There are also many sealing options including RF (radio frequency), UV, spot weld or button lock.  Clamshell packaging is typically used for high-end retail products such as tools or consumer electronics, as it is a higher cost solution.

Contract Packaging

Contract packaging is the service associated with the outsourcing of any packaging project to a third party provider who has the required capacity, capability and / or environmental certifications.

Cello Wrapping

A horizontal form, fill and seal operation using an OPP (oriented Polypropylene) film to wrap a retail product.  “Tuck wrap” and “overwapping” are synonymous terms that describe this clear or printed film that wraps a product using 2 sealed ends and a “fin” seal down the middle.  This is a high speed and high volume application.  Candy and playing cards are examples of products that use cello wrapping.


A broad term that has many meanings but typically fulfillment refers to a type of hand assembly such as POP display assembly, rework, pick and pack or direct mail.

Skin Packaging

“Skin” refers to a Surlyn film which gets heated and then “sucked” over a product to a printed board to seal and protect a product.  This is a common packaging technique for items such as gift cards, promotional items, hardware accessories and other low-end retail products.

Blend and Fill

A tandem process of blending ingredients first then filling into pouches or rigid containers.  Typically refers to for primary packaging of liquid or dry powders such as soup mix, cake mix or seasonings.

Shrink Wrapping

Shrink wrapping is a process used to fully wrap a PVC or Polyolefin film around a box, card or product, and then using a heat tunnel to shrink the film to conform to the geometry of the product.  This is a popular option for a retail product such as software and DVD’s and is an inexpensive way to protect a product while giving it a glossy outer finish.

Club Packs

A specialized packaging method that is dictated by Club Stores such as Sam’s and Costco.  Generally refers to the PDQ or display tray that houses a number of retail packages so that the trays are stackable in a way that is consistent with Club store merchandising.

Gift sets

2 or more retail products or “gifts” that are arranged or bundled to give the product set more value.  Gift set packaging is often found in Health and Beauty, cosmetics and hair care retail shops.


The contract service associated with placing a product or products into a polyethylene or polypropylene bag then sealing the end to secure the product inside the bag.  Bagging can be a manual process or automated based on the size of the production run.


Filling dry or wet ingredients into a pouch using vertical or horizontal form, fill and seal packaging machinery.  Pouching is typically a term associated with “primary” filling of a food item where direct contact is made with the ingredients or materials.


The act of inserting a product, bag or powder directly into a chipboard folding carton then gluing both ends.  “Cartoning” typically refers to an automatic process that is done using a cartoning machine such as a Clybourn.

Stick Packaging

A newer pouch style where the packet is long and narrow. Stick packaging was originally designed as a feature to easily add a flavor or some other powder additive to bottled water.

Vertical Form, Fill and Seal

A high volume pouch filling method where the film is converted (formed and sealed) while pulling the film from the roll in the vertical plane.  A “fin” seal, which is the fold over seal down the center, rear of a pouch, is evidence that a vertical machine was used.

Horizontal Form, Fill and Seal

A pouch machine that converts and indexes a pouch along the horizontal plane.  A common alternative for a stand up pouch that may require a gusset or a zipper.  A Bartelt is the most common horizontal form fill and seal machine as it is flexible and can pouch powders or liquids based on the delivery system set-up.

Bag in Box

A reference to a pouch or bag being inserted into a chipboard box.  Macaroni and Cheese is an example of a bag in box.

Rigid Packaging

This refers to packing or filling into a more solid or “rigid” container, which would include plastic bottles, glass containers, plastic tubes, composite cans and boxes/ cartons.

Flexible Packaging

This refers to the “film” that is used for pouching a product.  PET and Paper /Poly /Foil/ Poly (PPFP) are common structures used for flexible packaging.  Flexible film is considered a less expensive and more sustainable alternative to rigid packaging.

Powder Filling

The act of filling a powder into a pouch, carton or container.  This is a dry process versus a liquid fill and can be done manually or fully automated.

Liquid Filling

The filling of any liquid or beverage into a pouch, carton or rigid container.

Primary packaging

A packaging service where contact is made directly with any type of wet or dry product, materials or ingredients, food or non food.

Secondary Packaging

The packaging of a product that has already been wrapped or packaged once, but requires an additional, or secondary packaging step.  Example: pre-wrapped hard candy into a poly bag.

Hand Assembly

Hand assembly or “manual” assembly refers to a packaging service that uses strictly human labor to complete the packaging process and final pack out of an item.

POP Display Assembly

This is the hand assembly or construction of a POP Display, or “Point-of Purchase”.  Custom corrugated shelves, a header, a special skid and loading of the product are all included in a POP display assembly process.


Kitting refers to the gathering of multiple items and organizing them according to customer specifications.


Typically refers to a rework process where something on a previously packaged item needs to be redone, or done a different way.  Repackaging can also mean using manual labor to reorganize the way a product was stacked, palletized or packed out.

Pick and pack

A fulfillment service that describes a specific method of picking inventoried items, packing them into a shipper box and then drop shipping them to pre-specified locations.  Online order fulfillment is an example of a “pick and pack” process.

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