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Recent News from MFG Tray

Pharmaceutical Trays: Benefits of Composite vs. Stainless Steel

Posted on September 8, 2022

Unfortunately, COVID-19 isn’t over. While it may now seem more like a daily inconvenience than a global pandemic, it’s still very much a present danger. Because of a looming winter in which cases could spike and consistent market growth, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies still have an increased demand for high-quality material handling products. Plus, don’t forget, beyond COVID-19, there continues to be over 10,000 diseases and nearly infinite combinations of illnesses and injuries.

To keep people healthy, advance the healthcare industry, and build strong businesses, pharmaceutical and biotech companies need material handling products that deliver dependable performance and results. If you’re curious to know why composite trays are better for the task at hand, this piece is for you. In it, MFG Tray discusses the current pharmaceutical market, the benefits of composite material over stainless steel, and where to source industry-leading material handling trays.

A Booming Market

Pharmaceuticals enhance people’s quality of life. Whether to treat age-related illnesses or chronic diseases, the global consumption of medicine is only growing. In 2014, total pharmaceutical revenues worldwide exceeded $1 trillion for the first time.

Iqvia, a multinational healthcare firm, and researchers from George Washington University project the global pharmaceutical market will grow to $1.6 trillion by 2025.

With the growing use of artificial intelligence and lights-out manufacturing practices to supplement manual processes, it’s critical for companies to consider how their material handling equipment integrates with mechanical and robotic applications.

Automated manufacturing processes help businesses’ bottom lines. They may even alleviate some of the production issues brought on by COVID-19 and the supply chain crisis, such as staffing issues or labor shortages.

Ultimately, those in pharmaceutical processing need dependable handling products that they can integrate into machine applications. When it comes to pharmaceutical trays, there are four core varieties:

  1. Deep Storage Trays
  2. Gel Cap Drying Trays
  3. Sterilization Trays
  4. Vial Trays

In today’s clinical market, material handling equipment manufacturers typically use thermoplastics, stainless steel, or composite material. It’s important to find what works best for your internal processes.

The Benefits of Composite vs. Steel

MFG Tray 236008Before comparing MFG Tray’s composite material to stainless steel, it’s crucial to discuss traditional plastic trays. We’ve previously written about the vulnerabilities of standard thermoplastic trays, which include:

  • Bends and dents due to improper handling
  • Creep rupture caused by stress
  • Warping and bending due to humidity

In the material handling world, thermoplastic trays are often the cheapest choice. However, low-end handling equipment can ultimately cost a company more money, as they could result in:

  1. Increased equipment costs: While thermoplastic handling equipment may meet initial demand, it will fail faster than its composite and stainless steel counterparts.
  2. Lower product quality: Cheap handling equipment can cause sticking, scuffing, and inconsistencies in your products.
  3. Production interruptions: Tray defects can slow down/halt production and result in lower product yields.

Why Is Composite Better Than Plastic?

It’s more

It’s easier to

It’s less likely to

Temperature resistanceDisinfectCrack
Humidity resistantMaintainDent


For those reasons, many pharmaceutical companies have opted for either composite material or stainless steel. Both are strong and stable, bend and dent-resistant, and can be integrated into automated processes. However, composite material still has a leg up on stainless steel.

First, MFG Tray’s composite pharmaceutical trays are more economical than metal options. The best part is that you aren’t sacrificing quality. Composite material still has more dimensional stability than plastic handling products, meaning it won’t bend or sag under heavy loads.

Unlike stainless steel, composite trays won’t dent or corrode when frequently used with chemicals, detergents, and alkaline solutions. Even with that level of durability, composite trays are significantly lighter than most stainless steel counterparts. In fact, composite material can be up to 70 percent lighter than steel, depending on the material formulation.

Finally (and this can be critical for biotech companies), there are composite tray options that are electrostatic discharge (ESD) safe.

Why Is Composite Better Than Stainless Steel?

It’s more

It’s easier to

It’s less

Humidity resistantMaintainDentable


With so many benefits of composite material, companies involved in healthcare may use MFG Tray’s products for purposes outside of storage, drying, and sterilization, such as:

●      File storage

●      Instrument storage

●      Lapcare trays

●      Linen bins

●      Specimen storage

●      Sterilization trays

●      Storage drawers

●      Transport carts

●      Utility trays

●      Vinyl tray storage


Material that Matters

Pharmaceutical and biotech companies require affordable and effective handling equipment to ensure quality and a healthy bottom line. Composite products from MFG Tray allow you to move, stack, and integrate your trays into your process flow without fear of warpage or sagging under heavy loads.

If you’re interested in purchasing or learning more about MFGTray’s pharmaceutical handling products, please contact us today. All of our drying trays and vial trays conform to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Regulation Title 21 CFR 177.2420. We can also help you develop individualized solutions for specific material-handling challenges in your company.



Leading manufacturer of high-strength, glass-reinforced composite containers, trays, boxes, flats and totes for material handling in the metal working, plastics and electronics assembly industries, as well as in food service, confectionery and pharmaceutical processing.

MFG Tray continually develops customized solutions for specific material-handling challenges and applications. Customers are encouraged to contact MFG Tray to discuss any unique handling and design requirements.