flexible packaging questions
April 20, 2021 Comments(0)

“What’s SUP?” : Flexible Packaging Terminology And Acronyms

Do you ever feel lost when seeing a quote from your printer? Some of the flexible packaging terminology and jargon can be overwhelming…even for those who have experience in ordering. It’s no wonder: You have a businesses to run and don’t have time to learn every aspect of the packaging industry.

That’s why you trust companies like PSG to provide expertise on films/substrates that are best for your product. Still, it would be nice for you to have a basic understanding of the terms and products associated with your order. It will not only make you a better buyer, but it will make communication with your printer more efficient. Time is money.

making sense of packaging terminology

3 Reasons You Should Care About Flexible Packaging Terminology

There are many reason why you should care, but keep these 3 in mind when you’re starting a project.

BRAND INTEGRITY

Don’t forget: your brand is on the line. You, and/or your company, have worked very hard to build a reputation for your product…make sure you have some familiarity on what’s being wrapped around it. When developing a new product, there’s often trial and error involved. In this case it’s really useful to know what not to use.

AVOID OVER-ENGINEERING

Sure, it’s great to have a “bulletproof” package with a shelf life of a million years, but at what point is it over-engineered? (possibly costing your company unnecessary margin)

Remember that PSA from NBC in the 80’s and 90’s? (The More You Know!) It’s true. You don’t want to get bogged down in the minutiae of every flexible packaging detail, but the more educated you are as a buyer, the more time and money you’ll save on your project. Tip: Get material data sheets and learn your target moisture and oxygen transmission rates. This way you get the perfect balance of barrier (aka: shelf life) and cost efficiency. 

IT’S NOT ONE SIZE FITS ALL

A lot of our customers have more than one product and more than one way to package it. The structures and manufacturing process for roll stock is different than that of a stand up pouch or mylar bagYou’ll need to know the limitations of material machinability, printing, and structural integrity/barrier. If your product is available in brick-and-mortar retail shops, make sure pouch sizes conform to the allotted shelf space.

List Of Flexible Packaging Terminology / Acronyms

Now that you’re ready to learn more, please use the quick flexible packaging terminology / acronym grid below as a quick reference. There are links to printed examples, blog posts, diagrams, and videos. Despite being a large list, this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking for a term that isn’t here, or one you might have questions on, just shoot us a line.

flexible packaging terminology packaging questions

PP = Polypropylene Type of film commonly used for bar wrappers, chips and snacks
OPP = Oriented Polypropylene The clear layer that is reverse printed and laminated to the MET-OPP layer – comes in matte or gloss
MET-OPP = Metalized Oriented Polypropylene The shiny metal inside of a bar wrapper or chip bag – very malleable
CPP = Cast Polypropylene Usually used to increase machine performance on the filling line – enhanced sealing capabilities
PET = Polyethylene Terephthalate  A lot of pouches use this for most print and barrier layers- clear and/or metallized forms – good gas barrier and low moisture transmission
MET-PET = Metalized Polyethylene Terephthalate The shiny metal inside of a pouch or sachet – more stiff than MET-OPP
PE = Polyethylene Used in everything from water bottles, to stretch wrap, to pouches – high clarity – can be rigid (HD=high-density) to more malleable (LD=low density)
PE-(LLDPE) = Linear Low-Density Polyethylene The layer of a pouch that seals all the other layers together – makes the pouch thicker, more stiff
PEST = Polyester Commonly referred to as Mylar (DuPont brand name) – most pouches have this as a layer – see PET above
PVDC = Polyvinylidene Chloride If you want a clear window on your pouch, but need barrier, this is a common film to use – think pet treats and granola
EVOH = Ethylene-Vinyl Alcohol High-barrier film used commonly for meat and cheese products – can be used for a top web (like for single use beef sticks) or pouches
NY = Nylon Very strong pouch material with puncture resistance – if your product is heavy and sharp, ask for this – good for pasta
ALOx = Aluminum Oxide A high barrier coating that is applied to clear material – good for clear bar wrappers
PLA = Poly Lactic Acid Common film structure for bio based bar wrappers – comes in clear and metallized 
COLD SEAL Cold seal is an adhesive applied to the film in order to create the seal bonds – no heat needed – good for rapid filling and energy savings – automation only
RLS = Release Coating In order for the cold seal to release from the roll during the filling process, a coating must be applied so the adhesive doesn’t stick
HB = Health Beauty – PE Health and beauty films are very high barrier – lotions, essential oils, and most liquids, can leak easily if  the proper film isn’t used – also used on stick packs
COS WEB = Cosmetic Web HB is a type of cosmetic web – often used for powdered stick pack– also called stick pack film- can come in an EZ tear variation
PCR = Post Consumer Resin Plastic that has been recycled and is ready to be reused – some stick pack films offer this
SUP = Stand Up Pouch What you’re most likely looking to order if you’re reading this – more efficient vehicle when compared to rigid packaging
SURP = Stand Up Resealable Pouch Same as a SUP – only calling out the zipper for multi-use
PRC = Press To Close Referring to how the consumer closes the zipper – Most pouches require you to press the zipper in, while some offer sliding mechanisms
CR = Child Resistant Normally used as a term for special zippers that aid in poison control and packaging controlled substances – CR can also refer to a regulatory thickness of film – usually 4+mils thick (see mil thickness at the bottom of this list)
3SS = 3 Side Seal Also called a sachet…customers often reference Emergen-C packets
OVTR = Oxygen Vapor Transmission Rate The rate of which gas (oxygen) enters / releases from you film – lower the number = higher the barrier (*if you nitrogen flush, the barrier keeps the gas inside the wrapper)
WVTR = Water Vapor Transmission Rate The rate of which moisture enters / releases from you film – lower the number = higher the barrier
MVTR = Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate See WVTR
HFFS = Horizontal Form Fill Seal Automated filling machine, such as a flow wrapper, that uses printed roll stock to form around a product – see diagram
VFFS = Vertical Form Fill Seal Same as the horizontal only this machine stands up right – like a stick pack machine – see diagram
SBS = Solid Bleached Board Specially treated paper for bar cartons and display boxes
MIL = MIL/Gauge/Microns This is the thickness of the films used. PSG uses both mils and gauge. (example: .48mil = 48 gauge) You may also run into “microns”, which is a common thickness measurement outside the US. Here’s a handy chart that helps convert the various thicknesses available. 
PER/M = Price Per Thousand When you see /M that is the cost per 1,000 units or impressions. example: $10/M for 500,000 units = $5,000 ($10 x 500) or $0.01/ea

Interested in  functional food or innovative snack packaging ? At Prairie State Group, the commitment to our clients is centered on top-quality printing and food safety. Contact us today to learn more about our flexible packaging and pressure sensitive label products.