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Q: Plastic Packaging in Consumer Electronics ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Plastic Packaging in Consumer Electronics
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: zarkon-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 01 Aug 2002 01:18 PDT
Expires: 31 Aug 2002 01:18 PDT
Question ID: 47929
Smaller-sized consumer electronics products, namely portable CD
players and universal remote controls, typically come in a certain
plastic packaging. This hard plastic is difficult to open and likely
to cause a cut finger more often than other packagings.

And yet, companies still continue to use these - I'm seeking the
following information:

1. Any information/specifications regarding the packaging, including
specific manufacturers, if any
2. Purposes for use (I'm assuming security)
3. Problems with replacing them
Subject: Re: Plastic Packaging in Consumer Electronics
Answered By: lot-ga on 01 Aug 2002 04:36 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello, zarkon-ga
I used to work for Philips Audio and designed clamshell and blister
packs for their CD portables and accessories in creative and part
structural capacity.
We didn't have any strict guidelines to work to, but PVC was used for
the plastic where permissible, and a PET type variant was used for
other countries. This didn't make any difference to the design only to
the cost, PVC was cheaper.
Philips packaging was drop tested to test for durability, this was a
simple test by dropping the package from about waist level onto a hard
concrete surface several times. The packaging had to survive and so
did the product. The welds were quite 'aggressive' to prevent the pack
from bursting if it was dropped. Their were also rub tests where the
packaging was oscillated to mimic the movement of being shipped and
transported. If the packaging was holding the product in the wrong
places or wrong grip tension, it can cause scuff marks on the body of
the product and a consumer would not be happy! Sometimes it couldn’t
be avoided with direct product to packaging plastic contact so small
squares or rings of foam buffer was added in strategic places to
cushion the product from the plastic pack. Generally the hole width
was standard but if Walmart wanted the packs to fit their hangers then
we would make the width of the holes suit their hangers exactly.
Important graphics on the pack have to avoid the hanger hole area as
many stores have a large price tab which blankets that area. If the
pack was a single hole design the centre of gravity need to be
considered so the pack hung straight and not at an angle. The
manufacturers / suppliers we used were all in China, who were
contracted to work with a set of companies. Sometimes it might be
undesirable to have a competitors products packaged in the same
factory and suppliers were chosen carefully (copying etc). However for
reference here is a list of clamshell manufacturers from the Google
web directory:
Google web directory: Business > Industries > Manufacturing >
Packaging > Contract Packaging > Thermoformed
The main purpose is product visibility to show off the product. If the
product is packaged in a box the consumer only sees a photo, seeing
the product is so much more tangible. Consumers are funny animals : -)
even if there is a photo on the box they like to open the box to see
the contents. Clamshell packaging is particularly effective at Point
of Sale due to the product visibility. However from a perceived
quality level and from internal market research it was felt that a
cardboard box presentation made the product more expensive, and was
more suited to being a gift than a clamshell. The clamshell was
thought to devalue the product as this packaging is associated with
cheaper and disposable products like batteries, cheap gifts, toys etc
though it’s suitability for POS outweighed the disadvantages. The
American market prefers a clamshell over the box maybe because most
outlets are non-selling floor with no sales assistant (product is
visible) The American market is also prefers headphones for their CD
portables where the rest of the world predominately prefer in-ear
headphones. Yep the rest of the world don’t like to mess up their
hair!... yes how vain (the hand band flattens the hair)The American
market like to hang the hand band around their neck... must be all
those roller bladders out there ;-) So the American clamshell
packaging was always bigger!
If there are accessories with the product, e.g. rechargeable
batteries, car adaptor etc they can be shown off as well giving plenty
of added value, this works less successfully with a box. Any Point of
Sale stickers on the product is also highly visible on a clamshell.
Security as you point out, is an issue with small high value consumer
electronic products, a clamshell can be strapped to the hanger with a
security wire. The welding is also extremely strong, and unless you
can rip through a yellow pages directory with your bare hands, you
can’t open a Philips clamshell pack without the aid of some scissors.
This prevents shop lifters opening the pack and depositing the
contents. For remote control use, you can expose the buttons through
an aperture in the pack so the consumer can touch and feel the
buttons. However this tends to soil the product, with finger prints,
dirt, dust etc. For CD portable you can demonstrate the LCD display if
the unit is fitted with batteries and put into ‘demo’ mode where the
display cycles through the modes and the consumer can see the flashing
back light and digits changing, but this is a very rare
implementation. Another benefit of using a clamshell is the consumer
is assured that this is a fresh package that is being bought, ‘never
been opened’. Though these days some boxes use tamper evident seals,
‘self destruct’ holographic stickers which cannot be stuck down again.
The clamshell is much cheaper than a box in high volume as you need to
cut the box, assemble and fold it together. A clamshell just gets
pumped out of a mould.
It doesn’t get replaced. If the customer has an issue with the product
(opened blister) and brings it back to the store it goes back to
Philips for ‘post mortem’ and statistics get recorded so the technical
problem can be avoided in the future, and the customer gets a new
product. If a customer changes their mind and exercises their
statutory rights they are supposed to bring it back to the store in a
resalable condition, and in this case unopened. I guess it is down to
the retailer to judge if they can resell the product if the pack has
been unsealed. I have seen some retailers who stick the clamshell pack
back with sticky tape, though it tends to remain on the hangers as an
unloved product.
So a big yes if a pack is opened, there is a problem replacing them,
due to their ‘sealed for life’ characteristic.
I hope that is a satisfactory answer,
If you need clarification please ask,
kind regards

Clarification of Answer by lot-ga on 01 Aug 2002 06:53 PDT
ah... I just picked up your question 3. from another angle.
Meaning can clamshells be replaced by another form of packaging?
..thereby no being difficult to open or causing cuts on the fingers.
They can be replaced with a box with a transparent plastic window, as
this allows visibility of the product, and can be hanged on hangers
too if desired by the retailer or just stacked up in the normal way. 
To stimulate the vacuum forming of the clamshell (where the shape hugs
the profile of the product), a vacuum forming can be used for the box
aperture too, but is more expensive than a plain clamshell.
regards lot-ga
zarkon-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Very thorough response covering all three of my inquiries; and yes,
the clarification version of #3 was what I was looking for.


Subject: Re: Plastic Packaging in Consumer Electronics
From: dexterpexter-ga on 01 Aug 2002 01:55 PDT
Small eletronics are static-sensitive and can be harmed by the static
inherent in plastic.  Often these tough plastic bags are anti-static
to prevent harming the components inside.
Subject: Re: Plastic Packaging in Consumer Electronics
From: dexterpexter-ga on 01 Aug 2002 02:03 PDT
Additionally, there are often components sent within the packaging. 
Cheap plastic   could tear during shipment and spill the contents,
resulting in an unhappy customer with lost parts.  Thicker bags assure
that the parts are properly contained, I think.  The way to tell thick
plastic bags from their anti-static counterparts is in the color. 
Anti-static bags often come painted in clear and black in a checkboard
like pattend.  Also, some bags come silver or another color that
prevents light from entering and damaging light-sensitive devices.

Usually remotes will come in thick plastic bags.
PC-boards will come in anti-static bags.

Hope that helps a little.  As for the clarifications you asked for, I
will check those out, too!


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