For those new to the packaging industry, finding straightforward answers can be difficult. Ask a simple question, and the response will likely be filled with jargon and language that only an expert would understand. A clamshell package is a retail packaging type that secures the product between two hinged sheets of (often sealed) thermoformed plastic. But if you were to ask “how much for clamshell packaging?” it can lead to an answer that leaves your head spinning.
The truth is, while there are many different factors that influence the price of a clamshell package, three basic elements will play the biggest role in the price of your quote:
- The volume of the order
- The size and shape of the part
- Selecting stock or custom-made tooling
Understanding how these factors impact cost allows you to make educated decisions on design and purchasing decisions when developing your clamshell packaging.
1. The Volume of Your Order
It stands to reason that the more parts you order, the more you can expect your order to cost. However, the more parts you order, the more efficiently your supplier can manufacture, leading to a great decrease in the per part cost. This discount will be most apparent for orders between 1,000-100,000 pieces, and will start to diminish after that. The size of the order also affects the size of the tool used to form the package. Larger volume allows the manufacturer to use a larger tool size, allowing more parts to be produced at once. Forming more parts per run gives the buyer cost savings through quicker machine times and less material waste.
2. Size and Shape of the Part
Packaging buyers need to consider the size and complexity of the part they plan to purchase. A larger clamshell will affect how much material is used, the cost of the tool, and will take longer to produce a given quantity. Packages designed with complex features or made with specialty plastics will often require more time to produce, increasing production cost and extending price. Shipping costs will also be higher for large parts or those that don’t stack efficiently.
To get the most out of your package while keeping costs in control, define your packaging goals early. Are you looking for product protection, theft deterrence, or the ability to merchandise your product on a peg and/or on shelf? Clear goals during the design phase will ensure that your final package will meet all expectations without unnecessary costs.
3. Stock vs. Custom Tooling
There are benefits to both stock and custom clamshell tooling, but the choice of which tooling type chosen will have an effect on the cost of your package. With stock tooling, the tool is already designed and pre-made for anyone to use. While you will not have a unique package for your product, the time and money saved from not having to create a custom tool makes this an attractive option for brand owners selling products with lower volume or at a lower price point.
In some cases, it is best to make the investment in custom tooling. If your packaging goals include any of the following, you might need to make the switch:
- Retailer requirements
- Improve theft deterrence
- Provide better product protection
- Differentiate from the competition
- Improve efficiency of assembly or secondary sealing operation
- Right size your packaging
- Improve product visibility
Understand the Basics to Meet Your Product’s Needs
Volume, size/shape, and tooling are the top three factors that affect your clamshell packaging cost. There are other elements that will play a role in the final price, such as insert cards and the cost to seal and package your product. While these costs are not insignificant, understanding how the “Top 3” affect price gives you a better idea of how to prioritize the needs of your product packaging. A clamshell package can provide many uses to brand owners, and knowing how those uses align with your goals will provide you the opportunity for the best package for your product at a practical cost.
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