Form Fill Seal Machines
Form Fill Seal (FFS) machines are packaging machines that form, fill and seal a package on the same machine. The main types are vertical form fill seal (VFFS) and horizontal form fill seal (HFFS) machines – a term often used to cover horizontal versions of flow-wrappers, sachet machines, blister pack machines, four side seal machines and thermoform fill and seal machines.
How does a form fill seal machine work?
In FFS machines, packaging material is fed off a roll, shaped, and sealed. The bags/packs are then filled, sealed and separated.
Many FFS systems are highly sophisticated and feature computer interfaces and control networks. Greater speed and versatility are the major benefits of FFS systems for user companies. For example, snack producers demand systems that have the versatility to provide fast changeover between many different packaging formats to meet growing demand for single serve packs. Vertical FFS machines are capable of creating virtually any size or shape. These range from standard pillow packs to bags sealed on all four sides.
Which products are packaged by FFS machines?
FFS machines employ a wide range of material types. They are used across numerous markets including food, drinks, cosmetics, electronics, stationery, tobacco, chemical, medical, and pharmaceuticals.
Products commonly packaged by form, fill, seal include:
What are the types of Form Fill Seal machines?
Form fill seal machines are often divided into the types of packs they produce:
Bags and Pillow Packs: FFS machines used are flow-wrappers, lower reel flow-wrappers, vertical form fill seal, stickpack and mandrel form fill seal.
Bottles and vials: Blow fill seal machine.
Cartons: Vertical carton board form fill seal machine.
Pots, trays and blisters: Cold form fill seal, thermoform fill seal, or blister form fill seal machines.
Sachets and Envelopes: Edge seal, horizontal form fill seal, vertical sachet form fill seal machines.
Sacks and Bags: Tubular sack form fill seal or vertical form fill seal machines.
Each type of machine is described below:
Packaging machines which use flexible packaging material to form a package. The package is then filled and sealed in a sequence of operations to form a three- or four-side sealed sachet.
There are three main types:
Edge Sealing Machine
Horizontally operated form fill seal machine in which the product is placed on a horizontal web of film before being sealed on three or four sides to an upper web of film. Machines may have one or two reels of material and can produce one or more lanes of packs. Uses: Greeting cards and medical dressings.
Packs are formed and sealed on two or three sides and filled vertically with the product. The remaining side is then sealed while the film web is moving horizontally but the pack remains vertical. Uses: liquids, free flowing powders and wipes such as hand cleaners, cosmetics, etc.
Uses one or more webs of film to form a pack which is filled vertically and sealed to produce a three or four sided sealed sachet. They can have one or two webs of film and several lanes of packs. Uses: tea bags and pack liquids and free flowing powders and solids.
Tubular Form Fill Seal covers two main types that cover larger bags and sacks:
Tubular Bag Form Fill and Seal Machine
A packaging machine which forms a bag from a reel of lay flat tubular flexible packaging film. Bags are formed from a tube of lay flat flexible packaging material and are then filled and sealed within the machine.
Tubular Sack Form Fill and Seal Machine
A packaging machine which forms a sack from a reel of lay flat tubular flexible packaging film. The sack is then filled with product and sealed within the machine or by separate machines.
A packaging machine which uses flexible packaging material to form a tube. The tube is then filled vertically with product and sealed in a sequence of operations whilst the film is transported vertically downwards.
Uses: powders, liquids, free flowing solids.
Vertical Form Fill and Seal Machine for Cartonboard
A vertically operating form fill and seal machine which uses a cartonboard laminate. The cartonboard is formed, filled with product and sealed to produce a carton.
Uses: The well-known Tetra Pak carton for milks and juices is a variant of a carton VFFS pack.
A packaging machine which forms packs from a reel of flexible material on one or a number of mandrels, before filling the packs with product and sealing their tops within the machine. Packs are formed using flexible packaging material on one or more mandrel to form the pack, which is then filled and sealed within the machine.
Uses: Traditionally used for flour and sugar.
Blow Mould Form Fill and Seal Machine
A packaging machine in which plastic granules are melted, extruded, blow moulded to form a container, filled with product and sealed within the machine.
Uses: pharmaceuticals and related products, such as sterile unit doses e.g. eye drops.
A horizontally operated machine with the packaging material mounted above the operating level where the product is loaded horizontally with a longitudinal seal formed below the pack.
Uses: solid products like biscuits, chocolate bars and phone cards.
As above, except the packaging material is mounted below the operating level and the longitudinal seal is on top.
Uses: delicate products like vegetables and airline cutlery.
Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is a form fill seal packaging system which is used in controlling or removing the atmosphere surrounding a perishable product. Shelf life is extended by modifying, controlling or removing the atmosphere surrounding perishable products using sophisticated horizontal and vertical form fill seal systems.
A Thermoform fill seal machine is a FFS machine in which a web of thermoformable material is heated and formed with pressure and/or vacuum, before being filled vertically with product, sealed with a top film or magazine fed lid and finally cut to produce individual packs. Machines can produce one or more lanes of packs and may incorporate equipment to evacuate packages before they are sealed.
Uses: cheese, bacon, fresh and cooked meats.
Blister Thermoform Fill Seal
The most common form of thermoform fill seal. They are used almost exclusively for pharma pills and capsules.
Deep Draw Form Fill and Seal Machine
Packaging machines which use deformable or thermoformable packaging material to form a package. The package is then filled and sealed in a sequence of operations to form a deep drawn pack.
A form, fill and seal machine in which a web of deformable material is formed under pressure in a die press. The formed contaoiner is then filled vertically with product, sealed with a top film or magazine fed lid, and finally cut to produce individual packs. Machines can produce one or more lanes of packs.
Uses: single serve jam and preserves.
A Stick Pack is a horizontally or vertically-operated FFS machine forming a thin three-sided sachet from flexible packaging materials resembling a stick or pen. Uses: sugar, tea, coffee, sauces, shampoos and toiletries.
A Strip Pack is a vertically-operated FFS which produces strips of individually sealed packs joined together in predetermined lengths for a variety of uses, including soluable medicines.
- Horizontal product infeed mechanism
- Film unwind mechanism
- Film folding box
- Longitudinal seal mechanism
- Transverse seal mechanism
- Transverse cutting mechanism
- Discharge conveyor
- Film forming tube
- Automatic filling device
- Film transport mechanism
- Mandrel bag forming mechanism
- Bag fold and seal
- Bag seal
- Multihead weigher
- Augur filler
- Block bottom bag
- Deformable material
- Film reel
- Film web
- Flexible packaging material
- Lay flat tube
- Paper/foil laminate
- Pre-made bag
- Pre-made sack
- Side seam seal
- Thermoformable material
- Longitudinal seal