Vacuum Filling Machines




Vacuum Filling Machines

Vacuum packing machines and vacuum filling machines are essential parts of processing and packaging lines for many products, especially foodstuffs, ranging from low viscosity liquids to high viscosity doughs, paste-like meat products and solid fresh food products.

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What is the difference between vacuum filling and vacuum packing machines?

Vacuum filling machines are based on the use of vacuum pumps for drawing products from a tank or a hopper into a preformed container, usually a tin, pouch or bottle. Their principal role is to fill containers ready for sealing, ready for secondary packaging, storage and transport.

Vacuum packing machines use a pump to remove air from a bag or pouch containing a measure of product. Once the vacuum has been created, the pouch is heat-sealed.  

How do Vacuum Filling Machines work?

Vacuum filling machines use vacuum pumps to draw viscous products from a tank or through a hopper. The machinery then fills rigid containers with a measured amount of the product, either through a nozzle or a portioning function.

Vacuum filling machinery varies from simple, single nozzle bench-top equipment that is ideal for low-volume producers through to powerful, fully automatic vacuum fillers for high-output, industrial-scale plants. 

Product portioning is usually based on volumetric measurement, such as the fill level in a glass or plastic bottle, but weight measurement is also in use, particularly for food products. High levels of accuracy are achievable, including the precise filling of small bottles of perfume and essential oils. 

Vacuum sealing machine is an alternative term for vacuum filling equipment. 

How do Vacuum Packing Machines work?

Vacuum packing is used to protect products, mainly foods, from contamination and oxidation. Doing so extends shelf life and aids handling for storage, transport and in retail.

Like vacuum filling, vacuum packing requires the use of a pump. However, for filling purposes the pump is used to create a vacuum which draws viscous products into a container. For packing, a pump is used to void oxygen from a pouch which already contains food or other products.

There are two types of vacuum packing machine. More traditional machines are based on a chamber where a pouch containing the product is placed. Air is pumped from the chamber and a heat seal strip seals the pouch.

The other type of vacuum filler does not involve a chamber, but instead, under the machine’s lid, connects the open end of the pouch containing the product to a pump. Once air is removed, the pouch is heat-sealed by a bar sealer.

Which products are vacuum filled?

Vacuum filling is in widespread use for liquids such as wine, spirits, perfume, essential oils, aromatherapy, cleansers and specialty chemicals, solvents, alcohol, nail polish, nail polish remover, acetone, paints and paint thinners, inks and e-liquids. There are options for filling small bottles as well as larger containers.

The technology is also frequently used for a range of ‘pasty’ food products including sausagemeat and dough. The vacuum filler can be linked to cutting equipment for accurate portioning and to shaping equipment (e.g. for burgers).

Vacuum filling is also capable of gentle product treatment, and with the right feed setup, products are filled in pristine condition. Options include machinery able to handle volatile liquids with appropriate safeguarding, and air-free systems which avoid oxygenation and other harmful effects.

Which products are vacuum packed?

Many types of product can be vacuum sealed as long as it is appropriate to pack them in a flexible pouch which can form a close-fitting, air tight barrier around the product. Food is the principal sector for vacuum filling machines, for products including fresh meat, charcuterie, seafood, cheese, rice, pasta, dried fruits, chocolate and snacks.

Vacuum packing is also used for various pharmaceutical products and some valuables and collectables including coins. In cookery, vacuum packing comes into play for sealing foods in bags or pouches for sous-vide cooking in water baths.

What are the key features of Vacuum Filling Machinery?

Any decision about investment in new vacuum-filling machinery needs to be made on the basis of the product and the throughput required. The types of container to be used are also a key consideration. For liquids, glass or plastic bottles or cartons are most common, but these could vary from very small containers (e.g. for nail polish) to larger formats. 

Vacuum filling machines are generally made to be used with dry or wet products. Options exist for machinery which have the flexibility to work with both.

Due consideration also needs to be given to the level of automation and integration that is needed with existing processing and production lines. Leading suppliers also offer comprehensive control and reporting technology that facilitates effective and efficient management of the machinery, and helps staff to operate at optimum levels.  

For drinks and food products, the ability to maintain hygiene and degerminate the equipment is essential. Low viscosity liquids present less of a challenge, but for oils and meat products, the ability to clean equipment thoroughly and regularly is a highly important part of its design.

Attention also needs to be paid to maintenance and down-time, so we advise working with a supplier who can demonstrate high levels of reliability and service support.

What are the key features of Vacuum Packing Machinery?

Vacuum packing machines are used in many different contexts. Simple, low-cost machines are used in domestic kitchens to pack foods of various kinds, and for fashionable sous-vide cookery. By extension they are also to be found in catering and retail settings.

In businesses with a larger throughput, machines with programmable single or double chambers with two or more sealers are used, with powerful pumps for faster operation. Chamber machines for commercial use create a higher level of suction and create a stronger vacuum than external vacuum packers. The larger the chamber, the larger the product that can be sealed, and larger equipment can be used to vacuum seal multiple products at the same time. For faster throughput and automatic operation, chamber belt machines feed bags and pouches into the chamber by conveyor in a continuous operating cycle.

Vacuum Packing and Vacuum Filling FAQs

What types of vacuum machine are used in packaging?

Vacuum technology is used in various types of machine used in the packaging industry.

Vacuum Filling Machines

As described above, these machines use a vacuum pump to draw products from hoppers or feed vessels into containers positioned in line with the feed nozzle.

  • Single head vacuum filling machines feature a single nozzle.
  • Twin head vacuum filling machines have two nozzles.
  • Linear vacuum filling machines feed containers to the filling area on a horizontal conveyor.
  • Rotary vacuum filling machines bring containers to the filling zone on a rotary conveyor which is replenished with containers within the conveyor system.

Vacuum Packing Machines

Vacuum packers or sealers pump air out of bags and pouches which contain products to create a vacuum. The bags and pouches are then closed by a heat sealed strip.

  • External pump vacuum packing machines operate by placing the opening of a loosely filled bag or pouch over the pump nozzle. Air is removed to create a vacuum, and the bag is heat sealed.
  • Chamber vacuum packing machines are based on bags placed in a chamber which is voided of air to form a vacuum. A heat sealing bar within the chamber forms an air tight seal.
  • Table top chamber vacuum packing machines are a compact chamber machine suitable for smaller throughputs.
  • Single chamber vacuum packing machines feature a single chamber in which the vacuum is created.
  • Double chamber vacuum packing machines have two chambers for increased throughput.
  • Chamber belt vacuum packing machines feed bags or pouches by a conveyor belt.
  • Form fill seal machines are a version of vacuum packing machines which form the bags or pouches, seal them in vacuum, then pass the sealed bags into secondary packaging.

Vacuum Sealing Machines

A vacuum sealing machine is an alternative term for vacuum packing machines.

Vacuum Forming Machines

Vacuum forming machines use vacuum technology to pull a flexible board or substrate over a form or mould to create a shaped tray for products such as softer fruit.

What is the difference between vacuum forming and thermoforming?

In thermoforming, a sheet of plastic or other material is heated to become pliable. It is then shaped using a mould, and trimmed. Vacuum forming uses vacuum pressure to give a sheet of material the desired shape. It is ideal for contoured packaging for food or electronics.

There are two basic types of moulds - male or convex and female or concave. With male moulds, the substrate is placed over the mould to contour the inside. With female moulds, the thermoplastic sheet is placed inside the mould to form the outer dimensions of the part precisely.

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