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