There 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.
Transitions on the end seal between varying thicknesses of film created by the fin seal, lap seal, gussets, and wrinkles make it more difficult to maintain the operating window necessary for quality seals:
Too little pressure leaves gaps, or leakers, at these transition zones.
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 at transition zones or “moons,” before the seal can set.
The end results can be packages that fail to protect the product or have little appeal to consumers, as well as lost production time spent attempting to meet package quality standards.
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:
•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.
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.
Following is a list of procedures that will help you troubleshoot intermittent seal problems. You can find additional details by clicking on the links or images in each section: Read more
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:
Greener Corporation has published a series of white papers devised to help optimize package quality and productivity on horizontal and vertical form fill seal packaging lines. In addition to helping you solve problems, these technical articles provide foundational information you can use to implement proactive improvements—an approach that helps deter problems from occurring in the first place.
The first video in Greener Corporation’s “Tech Bites” series explains how adjusting backlash on horizontal flow wrappers helps prevent problems such as fractured end seals and premature failure of knives and anvils.