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Dow Adhesives and Coatings for Medical and Pharma Packaging

Dow-Hirez.png For decades, food and beverage manufacturers have reduced their use of rigid packaging in favor of flexible packaging to minimize their carbon footprint while reducing the cost of manufacturing, shipping, and storing their products. Unsurprisingly, several manufacturers of medical, pharmaceutical, personal, and home care goods have followed suit, but some face unique challenges in making a switch.

For example, the medical and pharmaceutical industries face a higher barrier of entry to adopt flexible packaging because of the array of chemicals, solvents, and sterilization techniques their products are subjected to or contain. These conditions are often damaging to materials used to make flexible packaging, such as adhesives and coatings.

Medical and Pharmaceutical Laminating Adhesives and Heat Seal Coatings

To address these challenges, Dow developed specialized laminating adhesives and coatings to meet the structural integrity, durability, and compatibility requirements of flexible packaging used in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. These adhesives and heat seal coatings feature high bond strength and fast cure times with various packaging materials. This contributes to stronger, more durable packaging that can be completed faster due to quicker postprocessing times.

Overall, Dow’s laminating adhesives and heat seal coatings are designed to provide medical and pharmaceutical packaging converters with the following benefits:
  • Increased laminate and packaging durability
  • Higher manufacturing efficiency and excellent visual quality of laminates
  • Flexibility in producing laminates used in several different medical and pharmaceutical applications

Detailed below are common types of flexible packaging used for medical and pharmaceutical applications and the Dow adhesives and heat seal coatings that are optimized for them.

Medical Wipe and Chemical Packaging

Solvents and chemicals like isopropanol, ethanol, and iodine are frequently used to disinfect or sterilize medical equipment and skin prior to administering treatments. These solvents and chemicals are often packaged in individualized pouches with wipes for convenience and safety. The pouches are typically made of multiple layers of plastic film, metallized film, or foil, and the laminating adhesives used to seal these layers must not dissolve or degrade upon contact with chemicals. shutterstock_1625502043.jpg

Dow’s PACACEL™ L75-200/CR-202 is a solventless adhesive ideal for packaging containing isopropanol or ethanol wipes due to their chemical resistance to alcohols. This adhesive develops excellent bonds on metallized films, other various types of films, and foil. It cures within two days at ambient temperature and enables line speeds of up to 1,300 ft/min without misting, providing high efficiency and fast turnaround times.

Dow’s ADCOTE™ 577/CR 87-124 is a solvent-based laminating adhesive that features high chemical resistance and is also a good choice for isopropanol or ethanol wipes. This adhesive cures within three days at ambient temperature and bonds well to foil, metallized film, and films made of PE, PP, PET, nylon, PVC, and PVDC-coated substrates.

Dow’s ADCOTE™ 102A/Coreactant F system is designed for maximum chemical resistance and is suitable for packaging containing challenging chemicals like iodine. It cures within seven days at ambient temperature and forms good bonds to many of the same materials listed for the previous adhesives.

Sterilizable Pouches

Every year, millions of medical instruments are sterilized via ethylene oxide or gamma irradiation prior to use in medical procedures. These instruments are packaged in pouches made of medical paper and Tyvek®.

Both the paper and Tyvek® are porous materials that allow for sterilizing treatment like ethylene oxide to permeate through the packaging to the instruments. These pouches are constructed using heat-sealable coatings, which seal the two materials together.

Dow’s water-based ADCOTE™ 37R345-PS heat seal coating is an excellent choice for sterilizable pouches because it features good porosity after curing, functioning as a breathable coating that permits sterilization via ethylene oxide or gamma irradiation. It provides high bond strengths to medical paper and Tyvek® and may even be used as a compounding base for other medical heat coating formulations.

Pharmaceutical Pill Blister Packs

While a bottle is an extremely common format to place pill medications in, blister packs offer several advantages in terms of filling efficiency, preventing child access, and reducing contamination risk. These blister packages are made by sealing a clear, thermoformed laminate containing the pills to a foil or paper backing. shutterstock_686692003-1.jpg

The clear laminate is typically made of an Aclar® film and a PVC film, where the outer layer of Aclar® acts as a moisture barrier and the inner layer of PVC acts as an oxygen barrier to keep the medication stable.Dow has designed two adhesive systems to allow converters to manufacture the Aclar®–PVC laminate and seal this laminate to the foil or paper backing. The AQUA-LAM™ 444A/CR 7-103 laminating adhesive is a water-based system with excellent thermal stability and optical clarity, making it perfect for maintaining the visual quality of the blister layer and allowing it to be heat sealed to its backing without issue.

Dow’s ADCOTE™ HS 36X101 is a solvent-based heat seal coating that forms strong bonds between aluminum or paper and PVC. It features a low activation temperature and has good clarity, permitting efficient, optically appealing blister packaging to be manufactured.

Table of Adhesives and Heat Seal Coatings

Application Adhesive Coreactant
Alcohol wipe pouches PACACEL™ L75-200 CR-202
ADCOTE™ 577 CR 87-124
Iodine pouches ADCOTE™ 102A Coreactant F
Sterilizable pouches ADCOTE™ 37R345-PS -
Pill blister pack laminates AQUA-LAM™ 444A CR 7-103
Pill blister pack sealing ADCOTE™ HS 36X101 -


Dow has developed a portfolio of specialized laminating adhesives and heat-sealable coatings to maximize the efficiency, durability, and integrity of flexible packaging used in medical and pharmaceutical applications. These adhesives and coatings form strong bonds with metallized films, other commonly used films, and foil substrates. They are optimized for the requirements of the specific applications they are designed for, such as breathability for sterilizable pouches or optical clarity for blister packages. Click below to discuss your application and request a quote or sample of Dow’s laminating adhesives and heat seal coatings today.
Aclar® is a registered trademark of Honeywell International Inc.
Tyvek® is a registered trademark of DuPont.

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