Updated: Aug 2, 2021
Here at Packaging Automation, we specialise in tray sealing, manufacturing tray sealing machines in a range of sizes from small manually operated to fully automated twin lines, but we do often get asked about the differences between tray sealing and thermoform.
The most common types of packaging machines are tray seal and thermoform, but is one better than the other?
In simple terms, tray sealers, also referred to around the globe as : tray lidding, heat sealer and top sealers; are machines that apply plastic film lids to pre-formed trays of varying materials, sizes, and depths.
Thermoform is a plastic moulding technique that can be used to form the tray as well as create a sealed pack in a multi stage process.
With tray sealing the product is placed in a pre-formed rigid tray before it is sealed, in some cases the air is removed or modified before the lid is sealed. (To create a vacuumed, gas flushed or skinpacked pack.)
Here’s some key features of tray sealing:
Tray Sealing produces a hermetic seal (airtight), this is especially important if using MAP (modified atmosphere technology) to extend shelf life
Tray Sealed Packs can be used to enhance the shelf appeal of products
Tray Sealed Packs can be stronger than packs sealed by other methods contributing to less damage in transportation, storage and in the retailer outlets
Tray Sealing gives a greater degree of flexibility for customers who have multiple product lines, differing tray sizes and a range of tray materials as the machines are designed for quick changeovers and the change parts are relatively inexpensive
There can be environmental benefits as tray sealing can use less plastic and PA machines are designed to be low energy
And if you need any further convincing that tray sealing is the best option, the PA tray sealing machines not only achieve three times the output of thermoformers, but the footprint is smaller and more importantly the machines are much less expensive!