What is the Difference Between Flexible & Rigid Packaging?

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What is the Difference Between Flexible & Rigid Packaging?

When it comes to building a packaging strategy, there are plenty of tips and insights that business managers can follow to start out on the right foot.

Whether that is saving money on packaging costs, building a robust supply chain or even venturing into custom packaging for that bespoke attention to detail your customers will appreciate.

But one of the most crucial steps to an effective packaging strategy is making sure the type of packaging you use aligns with your product and its needs.

In this article, we will explore the key differences between two very different types of packaging: rigid and flexible packaging. We will look at the benefits and disadvantages of both types, when they can be best used and how to find the right packaging options for your business needs. Read on to learn more!

Rigid Packaging

Rigid packaging is a form of packaging that does not change its form without considerable force. It typically has a firm or stiff structure, preventing it from being folded, crushed or pierced.

Rigid packaging is most commonly made from hard materials, like glass, wood, metal or plastic. Examples of rigid packaging include:

  • Jars (e.g. foods, chemicals)
  • Cases (e.g. CD/DVD cases)
  • Tubes (e.g. snacks, cosmetics)
  • Crates (e.g. furniture, industrial-scale equipment)
  • Containers (e.g. food, medicines and electrical goods)

Pros And Cons Of Rigid Packaging

Depending on the needs of your products, rigid packaging can either be a huge help or a hindrance to your packaging needs.

The advantages of rigid packaging are:

  • Security – Rigid packaging tends to be harder to tamper with.
  • Durability – Rigid packaging is hard to pierce or crush, keeping it lasting longer than flexible forms.
  • Protection – Rigid packaging is less likely to pass on any damage from bumps or knocks onto your product.

The disadvantages of rigid packaging are:

  • Weight – Rigid packaging is typically more dense and in some situations, may add unnecessary weight to the package, increasing costs.
  • Harder to deliver – Rigid packages are unable to conform to package receptacles like mailboxes or mail slots.
  • Higher Shipping Costs – Some rigid forms of packaging can leave empty spaces, increasing the packaging dimensions which can lead to increased shipping costs.

Flexible Packaging

Flexible packaging is a type of packaging that easily conforms with the space or product around it. This allows it to pass through tight spaces and be pliable in different environments.

Flexible packaging is typically made from soft and thin materials, like plastic film, foil or paper. Some materials like cardboard may be considered an in-between option for flexible and rigid packaging.

There are many types of flexible packaging around us, particularly with food products. Examples of flexible packaging include:

  • Bags (e.g. grocery bags, shipping bags)
  • Wraps (e.g. packaging wraps and films)
  • Sachets (e.g. single-use condiments and liquids)

Pros And Cons Of Flexible Packaging

Like its rigid counterpart, flexible packaging does work better with some products and environments than others.

The advantages of flexible packaging are:

  • Affordable – Flexible packaging tends to be fairly affordable as it uses less materials than rigid forms.
  • Lightweight – Many forms of flexible packaging are light and will not add any substantial weight to to the product for shipping.
  • Best for mailboxes – Small, flexible packages can easily slot through a mailbox without getting crushed or needing to be sent elsewhere.

The disadvantages of flexible packaging are:

  • Low durability – Flexible packages like plastic bags can be easily pierced or cut, especially if they contain a product that is heavy or has sharp corners.
  • Hard to recycle – Some flexible packaging types are harder to recycle because of their thinness, even if their more rigid form is able to be recycled.
  • Environmental concerns – Many flexible packages come from valuable or non-renewable materials like plastic and metal, this may be a concern for many environmentally-conscious consumers.

Flexible Packaging Or Rigid Packaging: Which One Is Right For My Company?

When choosing between flexible and rigid packaging, you will want to focus on finding the best option for your product and buyer needs.

For your product, consider its:

  • Value – Expensive items may be fragile and need extra protection with rigid packages.
  • Shape – Some products may benefit from flexible packaging that conforms to its shape.
  • Density – Small flexible items like clothing can easily be bagged or wrapped in loose packaging, thicker items that are not foldable will require sturdier packaging to prevent damage.
  • Weight – Heavy items can crush through flexible packaging, particularly if dropped or packed improperly. Lighter items may have their shipping costs substantially increased if the packaging adds unnecessary weight.

For your buyer, consider the following questions:

  • How do they expect to receive their package?
  • Would they prefer a heavy or lightweight package?
  • Do they prefer security over easy-to-open packages?

Once you have this information on both your product and buyer needs, you will likely be more confident about what type of packaging is right for you.

Here are some examples below to help you decide between rigid and flexible packaging forms.

If you have a lightweight, non-fragile product, consider flexible packaging.

If you have a small product that you want your buyer to receive inside their mailbox, opt for flexible packaging where possible. Learn how to confidently find mailbox-friendly packaging here!

If you have a sensitive product that could easily be crushed or smashed, you should aim for rigid packaging. Remember, you can also use void fill to shield the product inside the package if it does not easily conform with the package’s shape.

If you have a heavy or large product, you may want to choose rigid packaging over other types. This is because it may weaken flexible packaging, especially if it has any sharp corners that may protrude or cut through.

Crownhill Packaging Has Got You Covered If You Need High-Quality Packaging Supplies! Order From Us Today!

If you are looking to purchase or want expert advice on finding the right packaging solutions for your business needs, contact Crownhill Packaging. As proud providers of packaging across North America, we supply a wide selection of quality packaging products, including sustainable solutions. Let us help you turn your packaging strategy and its products into an advantage for your business.

To learn more or enquire about our packaging product and service catalog, reach out to our friendly team today!

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