What is a VFFS Machine?

A VFFS or vertical form fill sealing machine, is an automatically run machine used in forming, filling, and sealing where packaging of products is concerned.

Advantages of VFFS

Vertical Form Fill Seal Machine
Vertical Form Fill Seal Machine

· Highly Convenient

Compared to normal or traditional packaging machines, vertical form fill sealing machines work to ensure you achieve the best results within a short time period. So, it saves you time.

· It doesn’t take much space

Even with a space that is not too big, you will be able to fit a VFFS machine, and it will work perfectly.

· Flexible on Materials to Package

Vertical form fill seal machines are ideal for packaging materials of different types. These can include cellophane, aluminum foil, paper, polyethylene, metallized film, composite or laminated film, etc.

· Labor Intensity is Limited

This form of packaging will give your workers some free time and make it easier for them to relax.

· Keeps Workers Safe

Because the machine is automatic, all products that produce dust and other toxins will not end up affecting workers or causing any health problems.

  • Saves energy and is safe for the environment.
  • Easy to use.
  • Comes with a quick bag size change feature.
  • Packaging with these machines means waste is almost non-existent.

How to Choose VFFS Machine

1. Machine Weight, Dimensions, and your Space

You need to ask yourself where you will have the machine positioned, the space you have, the height of your space, etc. This is where the weight and dimensions of the machine also come in. If all these factors are not considered, you will end up buying a good VFFS machine for your space, but it will not meet your needs.

Simplicity in Use

It is always important to choose VFFS machines that are very simple to use and those that can be programmed to work on their own without supervision. So, they need to be easy to integrate, operate, and require less maintenance.

· Cost

Due to the different brands and models of vertical form fill seal machines out there, you need to decide based on your budget. However, it is best to stick with a price that is reasonable.

· Type of Packaging Bag

The type of packaging bag features that the machine offers are necessary. Where packaging companies are concerned, there is always the need to buy machines that you can easily switch to use other packaging bags to meet other production needs.

· Size of the Packaging Bag

The machine you choose should have the capacity to meet the needs of various packaging bag sizes. If it meets just one size, you will find yourself in a fix when you need other bag sizes packaged.

Packaging Speed

Where speed for packaging is concerned, you must know the number of items that the machine can package at a time, how fast it works to deliver, and how accurate its fillings and sealing are.

Dual Web Systems vs Single Web Vertical Form Fill Seal Machine

Single web systems are seen more in the area of packaging food applications while dual web systems are perfect for medical device and IVD products.

Dual web systems make use of two rolls of the materials that are fed into them from the different parts of the machine while the single web systems have a single feeding part or entry.

Difference Between HFFS and VFFS

Probably, you could be asking yourself how HFFS vs. VFFs machines compares:

  • HFFS machines require a lot more space to be stationed or fitted than VFFS requires.
  • VFFS doesn’t come with a lot of packaging closures and types like HFFS machines do.
  • HFFS machines need a lot of maintenance compared to VFFS machines.
  • HFFS machines are ideal for large businesses due to their ability to meet high production demands, while VFFS machines are perfect for small to medium-production companies.
  • VFFS machines can increase sachet production through the multiple lanes available, while HFFS machines can deliver heavy nags with nozzles and zippers.
  • VFFS machines are low-budget machines, while HFFS machines are high-budget and complex machines.

Vertical Form Fill Seal Machine Driving Mechanisms

Pneumatic VFFS Machines

These machines make use of compressed air. This compressed air is used to power their seal and cut systems. Due to how reliable they are, small and medium-scale companies greatly benefit from them.

Advantages:

  • They come with a reduced cost upfront.
  • They are easy to operate.
  • Can be highly dependent on.

Disadvantages:

  • Speed is always limited.
  • Limitations in accuracy.
  • Energy consumption is high.
  • Flexibility is less or minimal.
Pneumatic VFFS Machine
Pneumatic VFFS Machine

Servo-Driven VFFS Machines

These machines make use of electric motors to ensure there is precision in control where their seal and cut systems are concerned.

Advantages:

  • Speed and accuracy are always high.
  • Comes with high flexibility levels.
  • Saves energy even while in use.
  • Enhanced automation as well as control.

Disadvantages:

  • Initial costs are always high.
  • Its complexity is high.
  • Has the potential to cost more where maintenance is concerned.
Servo Driven VFFS Machine
Servo Driven VFFS Machine

Parts of Vertical Form Fill Seal Machine

Film Transport System

This part feeds packing films from rolls into the machine. It is in charge of controlling the tension and alignment of films to ensure the process is smooth and specific.

Forming Tune and Collar

This part is responsible for shaping packaging films into cylindrical tubes. The collar works by wrapping films around forming tubes, which ensures the ideal sizes and shapes for the final bags.

Vertical Seal System

This component does its job by sealing all film edges. It does this to form a tube that is continuous. It creates a very strong and dependable seal using pressure or heat.

Horizontal Seal and Cut System

This system is what forms the top and bottom bag seals. Its seal is created through pressure or heat and a cut mechanism that ensures all individual bags are separated.

Fill System

Fill systems dispense products into bags. These systems include auger fillers, piston fillers, and volumetric cup fillers. You will decide which to use based on the requirements of the product being filled.

Control System, or HMI

Control systems keep an eye on and manage the whole vertical form fill seal procedure. This system ensures all other parts of the machine are in perfect cohesion and that it is consistent and precise with packaging. To make operation very easy, there are touchscreen interfaces these machines come with.

Parts of VFFS Machine
Parts of VFFS Machine

Heating Jaws

Work on perfecting the sealing of bags to ensure there are no mistakes.

Dancer Arm

How a Vertical Form Fill Seal Machine Works

 

Step 1: Film Transporting and Unwinding

  • The process begins with a rolling stock being used and a roll of film being put on a spindle assembly at the end of the VFFS machine.
  • As the machine works, the film is pulled from the roll using film transport belts.
VFFS Working Principle
VFFS Working Principle

Step 2: Film Tension

  • After the film is unwound from the roll in step 1, the film passes over the weighted pivot arm of the machine, known as the dancer arm.
  • It is this arm that moves up and down as the film moves to ensure the film is kept under tension.
  • This helps to keep the film from wandering from one side to the other as it moves.

Step 3: Optional Printing

  • After the film goes through the dancer, it travels through the optional printing units, that is, if you have one installed.
  • These printers might be of the inkjet or thermal type. They have ideal codes and dates printed on the films.
  • Also, they may be used in placing registration marks, logos, and graphics on films.

Step 4: Film Tracking

  • After the film has successfully passed under the printer, it goes through the registration photo-eye.
  • This photo-eye is responsible for detecting the registration mark on the printed film.
  • Also, it manages the pull-down belts that are in contact with the film when it reaches the forming tube.
  • The film is kept in the right position by the registration photo-eye. This makes it possible and easy for films to be cut in the right spot.

Step 5: Film Positioning

  • With film tracking completed, the film goes past film tracking sensors.
  • These sensors can spot the position of the film even as it goes through the machine.
  • A signal is immediately generated for an actuator to be moved if sensors detect that the film edge is not in the right position.
  • When the signal is sent, the machine sorts it out before the process goes on.

Step 6: Bag Forming

  • With film positioning done, the film goes into the forming tube assembly for the forming process to begin.
  • As the film crests the collar or shoulder that the forming tube comes with, it is well folded around the tube.
  • This makes the outcome a film length with two external film edges that overlap one another. This is how the bag begins to form.
  • You can have the forming tube set up to have a fin or lapseal made.
  • This seal mostly overlaps the two external film edges, which results in a flat seal being created.
  • At the same time, the insides of the two external film edges are joined by the fin seal, which ends up creating seals that stick out like fins.

It is necessary to note that lap seals are known to be more elegant or more pleasing to the eye than fin seals. Also, lap seals use less material compared to fin seals.

Step 7: Introducing the Rotary Encoder

  • When seals are created in step 6, a rotary encoder is put close to the collar or shoulder of the forming tube.
  • It is driven by the moving film that comes into contact with the rotary encoder.
  • As the film moves, for each movement length, a pulse is generated, which is then moved to the programmable logic controller, or PLC.
  • On the human-machine interface or HMI screen, the length of the bag set is given in the form of a number.
  • When the setting is completed, continuous motion VFFS machines’ film transport does not stop. However, it stops on intermittent-motion VFFS machines.

Step 8: Gear Motors come in

  • At this stage, two gear motors draw the film down. These two-gear motors mostly drive friction pull-down belts that can be seen on both sides of the forming tubes.
  • These belts that use vacuum suctions for package film gripping can be replaced with friction belts if you want.

Friction belts are mostly ideal for products that have a lot of dust. This is because they do not experience much wear.

Step 9: Filling and Sealing the Bag

  • When using an intermittent motion packaging machine, the film will pose for a short while. This happens to ensure the bag that has been formed gets its vertical seal. The hot vertical seal bar bonds the layers of all films together through contact with the film’s vertical overlap. Then, the film stops to get its horizontal seal from the sealing jaws.
  • When using a continuous motion packaging machine, the vertical seal mechanism continuously stays in contact with the film.
  • After, the heated horizontal seal jaw set adjoins to have the top seal of the first bag made and the bottom seal of the second bag done.
  • When sealing is done, the jaws close. Due to that, the products to be packaged are dropped down the forming tube and then filled into the bag.

Step 10: Measurement Correction

  • Measurement and the release of quantities are handled during this step.
  • Filling apparatus such as auger fillers or multi-head scales is used here to make this check before dropping into every bag.

These filters do not usually come standard with these machines. So, you will need to have them added or installed.

Step 11: Discharge Bag

  • A sharp knife moves out of the heat-sealing jaws to cut the bag after products have been filled into the bag.
  • The jaw then opens up, and the bag with the sealed product in it drops.
  • The cycle ends here.

The bag that is completed can be moved onto a conveyor and moved to other equipment.

New Technologies on VFFS Packaging

Frame Construction

This is a new technology that has been shown to give much support and stabilization to the equipment. This helps the machine to work well since the frame is very strong.

Touchscreen Controls

Currently, there are VFFS machines made to come with touchscreen controls. This mostly had to do with the HMI, or human-machine interface, and the programmable logic controller, or PLC. They help to ensure everything is in perfect as far as operation is concerned.

Speed

These days, the VFFS machines being made are designed to be very fast. They are made to come with a lot of speed.

Carbon Footprint Reduction

Current VFFS machines are designed to help you reduce environmental degradation. So, you get to use less water and very few chemicals, as recycling of materials is more common.

Servo Operation Systems

Due to the servo-driven systems, you have much more control over the parts of the machine.

Heating Jaws that Work Perfectly

With heating jaws included in these machines, your bagging time is reduced immensely. Also, your production rate is increased.

Applications of Vertical Form Fill Seal Machine

  • Food packaging. Used to package products such as spices, sugar, salt, etc.
  • Used to package coffee to keep it fresh always.
  • Can be used to package snacks like popcorn, chips, nuts, etc.
  • Used to package pet food such as treats, kibble, supplements, etc.
  • Cosmetic industry.
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Agricultural products

Conclusion

The use of vertical form fill seal machines is exciting and highly beneficial. All you need to do is be informed to make the right choices and benefit from them completely.

More Resources:

How to Troubleshoot VFFS – Source: LOM

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