Refinements and Forming Set Designs that Boost Productivity and Package Quality
Optimizing packaging performance requires fine-tuning of the entire product flow process—from the way product is distributed into the measuring system through to the filled, sealed, and cut bag or pouch.
Symptoms of product flow issues on vertical baggers include downtime from product blockages and poor end seals and cutting problems due to product contamination of the sealing jaws and knife. Considered in isolation, as one-time incidents, each problem may only cause a relatively short period of downtime and a small amount of product and film waste. But when the cumulative impact of product flow issues is considered over time, the costs can mount. Read more
NeedThere is no one-size-fits-all solution for the design of crimpers and sealing jaws on horizontal flow wrappers and vertical baggers; they should be specified according to the packaging film, products, and conditions of your packaging operation.
This post, the last in our four-part series, reviews design options for crimpers and jaws. The optimal combination of serration patterns, materials, and special features can dramatically improve seal quality and productivity when sealing across extra film layers at the end seal. Read more
The first two parts of this series explored the potential problems created by end seal wrinkles and creases and ways to eliminate or reduce them on horizontal flow wrappers (Part 1) and vertical baggers (Part 2). In some situations wrinkles or creases are unavoidable, and, even without those issues, most packages have the inevitable transition between multiple film layers created by either a fin or a lap seal. This can make it more difficult to achieve quality seals, and attempts to do so can lead to additional issues:
• Excess pressure can easily crush or split the end seal.
• Overheating distorts the seal and can cause poor hot tack, where the film springs back open, or “moons,” before the seal can set.
The operating window for creating quality seals can be elusive, resulting in packages that leak or are distorted and either fail to protect the product or have little appeal to consumers.
This post reviews some of the detailed solutions in Greener Corporation’s Knowledge Center that will help you seal over extra layers of film at the end seal by refining the set-up and adjustment of crimpers, sealing jaws, and knives.
Varying thicknesses of film at the end seal can cause sealing problems, especially at the transition points of multiple film layers created by the fin or lap seal, gussets, wrinkles, creases, and at the corners. Applications of pressure and heat must be great enough to cause the sealant layer to flow into and seal off these voids. However, excess pressure can easily crush or split the end seal, while overheating distorts the seal and can cause poor hot tack, where the film springs back open, or “moons,” before the seal can set.
The operating window for creating quality seals can be elusive, resulting in packages that leak, are distorted, and have little appeal to consumers. Read more
Varying thicknesses of film at the end seal can cause sealing problems, especially at the transition point between two and four layers created by the fin seal, gussets, wrinkles and creases, as well at the corners. Applications of pressure and heat (if applicable) must be great enough to cause the sealant layer to flow into and seal off these voids. Excess pressure can easily crush or split the end seal, while overheating distorts the seal and can cause poor hot tack, where the film springs back open, or “moons,” before the seal can set.
The operating window for creating quality seals can be elusive, resulting in packages that leak, are distorted, and have little appeal to consumers.
An important step in troubleshooting these issues is to eliminate unintended wrinkles and creases. This post, the first in a four-part series, will examine this process on horizontal flow wrappers; Part 2 considers these issues on vertical baggers.
When end seal issues such as leakers or splitting occur, an important initial step is to determine where, and how often, the trouble shows up. For problems that occur inconsistently—perhaps leakers on every other package, or splits only on the top or trailing end seals of the package—you need to determine if the bad seals show up randomly or according to a pattern. Do the problems occur on every package? On both ends of the package?
Start out by collecting a series of packages produced by the machine during production conditions. Number the packages sequentially and mark the machine flow direction. If you are working on a horizontal wrapper with multiple crimpers, label each pair (ex: A, B) and mark each seal according to the set of crimpers it came from. Now you can trace the problem seals back to the place they occur.
For heat seal applications, each packaging film structure has a Seal Initiation Temperature (SIT), at which the sealant layer is heated enough to flow into and seal off gaps in the end seal and provide a minimally acceptable seal, and a Maximum Temperature, beyond which the film distorts, fractures, or has inadequate hot tack (seal strength and integrity while the seal is still warm). The temperature range between the minimum and maximum is the film’s Operating Window.
For a number of reasons, regulating heat is not as straightforward as simply adjusting the temperature setting within the operating window for the film you are running.
♦ The sealing face of crimpers and sealing jaws is often hotter in the middle than at the ends, where heat dissipates more quickly. These inconsistencies are readily apparent in the thermal profile shown below:
Stainless Steel Crimper Thermal Profile
The corporate engineering department at a large, international company commenced a project to reduce material costs for a variety of products that are individually packaged on horizontal flow wrappers. Greener Corporation was invited to participate in a series of meetings that defined the project’s initial goals:
- To reduce the cut-off length for each package by reducing the overall seal width, thus allowing the product envelope to remain unchanged.
- To achieve material savings without degrading seal integrity or productivity levels.
- To achieve a project payback period of twelve months or less.