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Form Fill Seal Machines Packaging Proves to Be Right Package at The Right Time

Form-fill-seal machines are machines that form the package, fill it with a wet or dry product and seal it closed. Most FFS systems use flexible film to form the primary package, such as a bag or pouch. But gable-top and aseptic cartons are also created in a form-fill-seal operation.

The Vertical form fill sealing machine (VFFS) is a type of automated assembly-line product packaging system, commonly used in the packaging industry for food, and a wide variety of other products. The machine constructs plastic bags out of a flat roll of plastic film, while simultaneously filling the bags with product and sealing the filled bags. Both solids and liquids can be bagged using this packaging system.
The typical machine is loaded with a continuous flat roll of plastic film, which has had labeling and artwork applied to the exterior or interior of the film. Note that while plastic is the most commonly used packaging material in the food industry, the technology can also be used to form continuous metalized foil/film, paper, and fabric product containers by changing the edge sealing/seaming methods. For some products the film may first be fed through a sterilizing chemical bath and dryer prior to use in the packaging system.

Vertical or Inclined Form-Fill-Seal Packaging machine
For a vertical form-fill-seal the film approaches the back of a long hollow conical tube, which is called the forming tube. When the center of the plastic is near the tube, the outer edges of the film form flaps that wrap around the conical forming tube. The film is pulled downward around the outside of the tube and a vertical heat-sealing bar clamps onto the edges of the film to create the "fin Seal", bonding the film by melting the seam edges together.
To start the bagging process, a horizontal sealing bar creates the "Bottom Seal" by clamping across the bottom edge of the tube, bonding the film together, and cutting off any film below. This sealing bar can be on a fixed height, which is called an intermittent sealing process. Faster systems include a sealing bar that moves down with the bag while sealing. This is called a continuous process. The product is either pre-measured by a multihead weighing system or the sealed tube end is then lowered onto a precision weighing table and the product to be bagged is dispensed through the long conical tube in the center of the bag. When the gross weight of the product-filled bag is reached, filling stops, and the horizontal sealing bar seals the top of the bag, simultaneously forming the bottom of the next bag above.
During the final sealing process, the bag may be filled with air from a blower or from an inert gas supply such as nitrogen. Inflating the bag helps reduce the crushing of fragile products such as potato chips, while inflating with inert gas helps drive out oxygen and retards the growth of bacteria that would spoil the product. Other product finishes such as hole punching for retail hanging racks will be done concurrently or just after the "Top Seal" is made.
Each FFS machine is equipped with a receiving hopper and a double-screw feeder system, fitted with filters and a vacuum arrangement to mechanically compact the product driven by the two densification screws. This first phase of the process partially reduces the volume of powder by removing some of the excess air. The product is fed to the filling mouth where a precise weight is dosed into the preformed bag.
The volume of the powder is further reduced with a second de-aeration system: sintered probes are inserted into the product in the bag and a vacuum applied, extracting more of the remaining excess air. The combination of the two systems allows a significant reduction of the powder volume coming from the process.
Many food filled packages are filled with nitrogen to extend shelf life. Food manufacturers are often looking for ways to improve their geographical reach or otherwise extending the shelf life of their product without the use of chemicals. Nitrogen filling is a natural means of extending shelf life. More and more manufacturers are choosing to create and control their own nitrogen supply by using an on demand nitrogen generators.
Dual web systems are also available for four side sealed pouches, as well as pouches requiring different materials for each side. Dual web systems use two rolls of material instead of one, which are fed in from opposite sides of the machine. The bottom and sides are heated sealed together to form the pouch, and the product is loaded from the top. The pouch with the loaded product then advances downwards; the top is sealed and the pouch is cut off. The sealing of the top of the pouch forms the bottom of the next pouch.