The shelf life of a product in a package can be very different from the projected shelf life obtained from testing the flat film that makes up the barrier.

Abstract: Published May 2015.

Analyzing films to determine their OTR and WVTR is an essential part of the R&D process, but permeation rates in finished packages can be much higher due to damage caused during manufacturing, shipping, and distribution. To obtain the true permeation rates into a package, it is essential to conduct permeation testing on the package as a whole. 

Most packaging R&D work is done using flat films, which is essential for identifying suitable packaging materials.

However, when a film is formed into a package, defects created during the manufacturing process as well as during shipping or distribution can weaken the barrier provided by the package as a whole. This must be taken into account during development or the shelf life of the product may be less than expected, which can lead to problems such as recalls or even legal action. Many companies avoid this issue by overpackaging their products. This is not an effective solution since it leads to increased production costs, higher costs for the customer, and a negative environmental impact.

A more effective solution is to determine the permeation rate of the finished package to ensure that it remains an effective barrier while avoiding the costs of overpackaging. The following case studies illustrate the importance of testing the whole package, as well as providing examples of how this type of testing can be done.

This paper contains:

  • Case study 1: Flat film vs. finished package
  • Case study 2: Bottle vs. closure
  • Case study 3: Retort packaging, OTR testing, and shelf life
  • The package testing process