Ameristar Awards Celebrate Efficient Protection

Three medical device packages were among winners in this year’s AmeriStar awards program, organized by the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP). More than 150 packages were entered into the North American competition. According to IoPP, judges evaluated and analyzed packages from 18 categories at IoPP Headquarters in Naperville, IL, on February 16, 2012. Student AmeriStar entries were also judged on February 16.

Recognized in the Medical Device category were TEQ’s package for the Thoratec HM2 Tray Set, Prent Corp.’s package for Cook Urological, and Sealed Air Corp.’s package for the SmartPrep2/BMAC2.

The Thoratec HM2 Tray Set produced by TEQ and packaging engineer Bill Horkins of Thoratec.

To produce the Thoratec HM2 Tray Set, packaging engineer Bill Horkins of Thoratec worked with the design engineers at TEQ ( to replace an existing design with a more-protective, fully recyclable package system. Two modular inner trays accommodate different pump systems and accessory trays to be interchanged within the system while using the same Tyvek lids (provided by Oliver-Tolas), sealing equipment (from Belco), and parameters.

The new design eliminated “a flat flange male-formed tray design that occasionally allowed edge sealing of the Tyvek to delaminate during peeling during package use,” explains Todd McDonald, CPP, TEQ’s director of sales and marketing. “This [problem had] generated reportable field complaints and jeopardized product

The new design features a Denset lug to hold the tray vertically, which not only protects the product during shipment, but also allows rotational removal of the inner trays, explains McDonald. “It incorporates multilevel tray placement for ergonomic handling, ambidextrous peel design (centered or left and right), holes die-cut in lids to aid peeling and reduce repetitive (pinching) injuries, reduced width areas on the bottom of the outer tray to allow easier gripping, and reduced flexing due to reinforced ribbed areas near pull tabs.”

Hold tab areas are designed to allow thumb placement on top and index finger contours on the bottom. “Trays are strong enough that they can be held by the tabs alone without slipping and possible dropping of the tray or products,” McDonald explains. Product snap features guide manufacturing personnel during package assembly, while eliminating the need for inner retainer trays and protective caps of the product.

The new tray uses the same carton size as previous tray systems, and the tray system itself features materials that are separable and recyclable, such as virgin PETG or PE.

Sealed Air Corp.’s tray system for the SmartPrep2/BMAC2 replaced a previous design consisting of five trays. It included optimization of the value chain through space savings, order of use, and product protection. The new package reduced the product footprint by 30% and packaging volume by 10%. The volume of sterilized contents was also reduced by 30% and weight by 50%.

Cook Urological's new tray from Prent.

When it first started work on its Bakri Postpartum Balloon, Cook Urological was looking to create and produce a well-organized product in a package, and to cut down on the amount of time required to prepare using the life-saving device. Prent Corp. and its designer Julie Isferding worked with the company on a thermoform solution: a tray/retainer combination that would hold various lengths of products, while providing ease of use, offering protection, and aiding in product identification.


This recyclable PETG package requires a pouch application; the retainer keeps the product securely in the tray below and accommodates several lengths of tubing held on top of the retainer prior to use. The engraved graphic logo gives customer identity. Two fold-over hinged flaps secure in a central point to help keep the package compact. The retainer also has an allocated cavity for the tip end of the tubing, which is snapped into place with the tubing coiled around the retainer in its specific cavity then the hinged flaps are folded and snapped into place, securing the product. A formed feature/cut combination at one end of the retainer acts as a removal feature. The form/cut combination at the opposite end of the tray provides an area were the various ends of the tubing can be threaded underneath. These features both allow penetration of sterilization to the product located in the tray below. A perimeter snap ring holds the retainer and provides the track for the tubing to coil around. Two other snap bar features give extra holding power between the tray and retainer. The tray’s return flange helps to avoid contact with the pouch, eliminating abrasion and simplifying loading of the package into the pouch.


According to the designer, the package helps conserve cost. Because the tray/retainer stack combination minimizes the footprint, more product can be shipped in the same amount of space. The tray also saves time needed to use the product to help stop hemorrhages. One assistant can take the components in the retainer and start prepping the saline IV bag while the physician or other assistant is prepping the patient with the components in the tray. In addition, the structure allows for placement of the Cook Urological logo; this helps the company increase brand awareness.


Ameristar Awards judging considered package innovation, sustainability, protection, economics, performance, and marketing.

Winning packages were honored at the AmeriStar and IoPP Honors & Awards Dinner, taking place Tuesday, May 22, 2012, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL.

For more information, visit

No votes yet