Boston Scientific refers to itself as a leading innovator of medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world.
The Marlborough, MA-based company’s products and technologies diagnose or treat medical conditions, including heart, digestive, pulmonary, vascular, urological, women's health, and chronic pain. But it’s not just the medical products themselves that are innovative, it’s also their packaging.
Take, for example, the ACUITY Pro® lead delivery system package, designed with and supplied by Nelipak Healthcare Packaging, developers and manufacturers of custom thermoformed packaging for the medical device and pharmaceutical industries.
Nelipak and Boston Scientific teams prioritized voice-of-customer inputs during tray and lid design. All together, the package combination is now used to hold 16 different catheter shapes in custom-fit cavities.
The tray utilizes innovative features including knurling surface patterns and catheter curve-containment channels to improve interface and protective properties. These designs helped Boston Scientific reduce individual package volume by 50%, while gaining a 315% palletization and sales bag load efficiency increase, and decreasing sterilization costs 50%. Material reductions yielded significant savings per saleable unit.
Package design needs
To learn more about how the tray was developed for Boston Scientific, Healthcare Packaging spoke with Nelipak’s Group Marketing Manager Sean Egan, Design Manager Chris Morgera, and Senior Account Manager Brian Flynn.
Together, Nelipak and Boston Scientific engineers identified the following key design needs for the tray/lid combination:
• Develop a single tray and lid configuration to contain one catheter and accessory set
• Design tray and lid to hold 16 different catheter shapes in custom-fit cavities
• Protect the catheter and accessories through sterilization, distribution, and storage steps
• Reduce overall package volume to reduce waste and storage space
Designing the next-generation ACUITY Pro package required the two companies to address the following opportunities for continuous improvement:
• A reduction in individual package volume could significantly improve the quantity and selection of product that can be transported in sales representative’s product bags.
• Maintain or increase protective properties and user interface of the packaging system while reducing overall individual package volume.
With those opportunities in mind, engineers had to develop a single pouched tray and lid combination that consists of one catheter and accessory set repositioned to hold eight individual curved shapes, each with two available effective lengths. This would require 16 differently shaped catheters in custom-fit cavities. Additionally the packaging had to maintain integrity of the product post ISTA 2A distribution testing.
The teams decided to use a snap-on lid with protrusions that contour to the catheter curves to ensure consistent curve presentation post distribution. Additional features included making the snap interference progressively easier during lid removal after the initial snap is disengaged, and engraving a “Lift Here” in the lid to guide the end-user.
Nelipak and Boston Scientific developed a way to minimize the contact between the tray and lid without compromising the protective properties of the packaging. To do that, they created a pyramidal grid (knurling) pattern of grooves in the tray.
The knurling pattern restricts direct surface area contact between the tray and lid to pyramidal peaks rather than flat, smooth surfaces. Knurling also aids in entry and exit of ETO gas and water vapor during sterilization. The feature works in conjunction with sterilization channels built into the tray to help prevent moisture from becoming trapped by the tray/lid assembly per the high pressure/heat/humidity environment faced during ETO sterilization.
The tray and lid components are designed to interface and lock in place with snap fits so that external pressures and/or impacts applied to the assembly cannot deform the tray cavities and/or lid cover features. The added protective features of the ACUITY Pro tray/lid design eliminate the need for a shelf carton component.
The tray knurling increases the overall rigidity of the thermoformed assembly. This improves ergonomics and handling of the tray and also works to prevent tray warping during ETO sterilization. Another advantage is that the knurling helps define the device/accessory cavities through the contrast it provides to the non-knurled surfaces.
Product protection is another benefit from the new design as the tray/lid assembly protects and contains the catheter and accessories during distribution through the use of segregated cavity features. The features are designed so that the lid, when mated to the tray, cannot be deformed to the point of product-contact during external impacts or applied pressure. The tray/lid assembly maintains integrity of the product/packaging post exposure to ISTA 2A distribution conditioning.
The ACUITY Pro package utilizes one tray/lid assembly for large catheters and one for small catheters. Both the large and small ACUITY Pro tray/lid assemblies fit within one universal shipper. This configuration reduction creates production, distribution, storage, and sterilization efficiencies through inventory floor space savings and palletization consolidation.
ACUITY Pro packaging makes it easy for end users to identify product in that the user can visually confirm the catheter curve shape prior to use in addition to reading the product label.
Honors for Boston Scientific’s thermoformed lead delivery system pouched tray and lid packaging
• AmeriStars award in the Medical Device category during EastPack in NY.
• WorldStar 2015 award from the World Packaging Organization
• Will be recognized in the Medical and Pharmaceutical category at IPACK-IMA 2015 in Milano, Italy in May.
• Less waste (material reduction and elimination of shelf carton)
• Materials are 100% recyclable
• Cradle-to-grave production and distribution cycle efficiencies are realized through the volumetric reduction and material savings of the ACUITY Pro design.