Webinar Recap: Foil Fundamentals for Medical Packaging Applications


Some Oliver team members recently had the opportunity to conduct an educational webinar about the foils used in healthcare packaging.  The webinar was hosted by Andrea Hecker, Sr. Product Manager, Pharma & Diagnostics with the technical expertise from Geoff Pavey, Technical Fellow. The session offered a comprehensive look at the crucial role of foils in protecting medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Speakers dove into three informative sections: an overview of medical-grade foil, a case study debunking the myth that thicker foil is always better, and a guide on selecting the appropriate foil structure for various applications. 

Foil Overview 

Contrary to the everyday tin foil found in grocery stores, medical-grade foil used in healthcare packaging is a material engineered for protection. These foils are typically constructed from multiple laminated structures, bonded through adhesion or extrusion lamination processes. The primary function of these foils is to shield medical devices and pharmaceutical products from moisture, sunlight, and oxygen—elements that can compromise their integrity. For instance, in drug-coated devices, foil packaging prevents the product from drying out, ensuring its efficacy and safety. Essentially, these foils act as guardians, locking in beneficial properties while keeping harmful elements away. 

Blog image foils webinar

Case Study: Thicker Foil Isn't Always Better 

A common industry misconception is that thicker foil automatically means more protection, but that isn’t always true. In this portion of the webinar, Geoff showed two nearly identical foil laminations, where 1 structure is 35ga and the other is 100ga. Both laminations were put to the test against a gelbo flex test. Materials were then evaluated using a variety of test methods such as microscopy and dye penetration. Surprisingly, the thicker 100ga foil exhibited more through-holes under stress, proving that thicker does not always mean better. This finding underscores the importance of selecting the right foil thickness based on specific needs rather than defaulting to the thickest option. 

Selecting the Right Foil Structure 

The webinar closes out with advice on how to select the right foil for your packaging needs. There are many factors to take into consideration. It’s recommended to start off by asking these questions: 

  • What device or product is being packaged? 
  • Does this item contain liquid? This affects the type of lamination to consider choosing (i.e. or adhesion or extrusion) and can affect the chemical resistance of the sealant layer. 
  • What is the device/product structure? Is it sharp? If so, foil doesn’t have good puncture resistance and it may not be the right material to select. 
  • What type of sterilization does the contents require?  
  • What elements need to be kept out? Protection from moisture, sunlight, and or oxygen is a common need. 
  • Are there any cost considerations? Though it's a common practice to default to thick foil, it’s not always what’s best for device protection and will come at a higher cost. 

Foil Fundamentals

A Guide to Different Foils in Medical Packaging Applications 

Watch the full webinar
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