One question we get often is, “What special packaging materials do I need for e-beam sterilization?”
The short answer: None!
Why don’t I need special packaging?
To use ethylene oxide sterilization, for instance, you need some form of breathable packaging to allow the gas (aka the sterilization medium) to penetrate through and reach the product. The electrons used in e-beam sterilization, however, can penetrate through most packaging materials, so no special breathable packaging is needed.
Don’t I have to maximize the packaging for the tote size?
Unlike gamma sterilization, e-beam sterilization at our facilities doesn’t require the use of totes. We have a looped conveyor system of flat carts that we load the cases on in a single layer. This means there isn’t a minimum or maximum amount of product you can send in, and there aren’t any totes to “maximize.” Each run has a special setup, customized for YOUR product.
Are there any materials I can’t use in my packaging?
Most of the commonly used packaging materials (polyethylene bags and cardboard boxes) can be processed using e-beam without any detrimental effects. Glass, however, does discolor with radiation sterilization methods, so, for example, clear glass vials used in pharmaceutical applications will turn dark. (Still want to use glass with gamma or e-beam sterilization? You can think about using amber colored glass to start off with so discoloration will not be noticeable.)
How do I determine what box size I need?
Box or case size depends a lot on the specific product and how you want to package it (e.g. is the product stacked inside the box? Randomly oriented? Is there one really dense spot on the product?). Reach out to our Tech Services team and they’ll be happy to help steer you in the right direction. In the meantime, these videos can provide more information about how electrons penetrate through boxes of different densities: E-BEAM Crash Courses.