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Vertical Form Fill and Seal Machines

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What is a form fill and seal machine?

A vertical form fill and seal (VFFS) machine is a packaging machine that is used to produce pouches or bags from a flat roll of packaging film. VFFS machines are commonly used to package dry goods, powders, snacks and other products for a variety of industries including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

VFFS machines commonly consist of a product feeder, a film unwinder, a forming and sealing station, a cutting station and a discharge conveyor. The machine pulls the roll of packaging film downward into the machine and the film is formed into a tube by sealing the edges together. The product is dispensed into the tube through a filling system in pre-measured and programmed quantities, after which the bottom of the tube is sealed to create a pouch or bag. The sealing process is finished by a heated vertical long seal bar to ensure the contents are hygienically sealed. The pouch is then cut off from the rest of the packaging film and the process is then repeated to create additional pouches. VFFS machines can be configured to produce pouches or bags of an array of shapes and sizes including flat pouches, stand-up pouches and gusseted bags. They can also be equipped with additional features such as printing, labelling and zip-lock closures.

Types of VFFS bagging machines

The “A” range of Autopack VFFS machines consists of the A100, A200, A300 and A400 models which vary in physical size, as well as the capabilities of bags or sachets that they can fill and the speed of production depending on the model, although all are stainless steel and have a range of filling options. Some models can double the pack lengths on the control panel,

The A100 is a pneumatic draw-down entry-level machine producing up to 40 packs per minute of up to 200 mm wide and 250 mm length pillow packs. It is possible to connect to additional modular options for Euroslot heading, labelling, printing and gas flushing as well as other forms and shapes of bag or sachet sealing.

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Benefits of form fill and seal bagging machines

There are many benefits of VFFS machines, and they have been a tried and tested format for decades across a wide range of industries.

One of their main benefits is their versatility where one model of VFFS machine may be suitable for many different industries and applications. Able to package powders, granules, liquids and solids from one machine, they can run almost all heat-sealable films on the market and can be integrated with a vast range of automatic filling options, such as augers, liquid fillers, linear weighers, multi-head weighers, indexing conveyors and volumetric fillers. They are such flexible machines as if the current application it is set up for comes to a halt, it can be easily repurposed for another application without significant engineering input. Additional bag and sachet shapes, sizes and seals, such as gusseting, block bottom, Euroslot headings, tear notches and so many more are easily retrofittable.

The touch of a button will automatically change the bag length allowing for different weights and volumes of product to be filled on the same forming tube. They increase efficiency for manufacturers by automating the packaging process, speeding up production times and creating a vastly higher output than is possible with manual labour. Another huge benefit is the cost of the initial outlay being relatively low compared to other primary packing machines and, along with a small footprint and low energy running costs, ownership of a VFFS machine gives a quick return on investment.

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The process starts at the rear of the VFFS machine with the film unwinding unit which is calibrated for tension and to allow for film accumulation when the bag is indexed. This area can be fitted with printers, labellers, zip applicators and valves. The film registration unit is used with printed film to allow the image to be kept in line with the cut length of the bag. When no printing is required on the bag it will measure the length of the film before sealing and cutting. The film then passes over the forming tube which takes the flat film and forms it into a tubular shape which is sealed together using a heated vertical long seal bar. There are two film pull belts—the right side and the left side both of which are powered by a single motor with encoder feedback. The film pull belts provide the force to pull the film through the machine and are used to maintain good tension on the tube.

The horizontal sealing jaw is responsible for three major functions—to seal the top of the previously filled bag, to create the bottom seal for the soon-to-be filled bag, and to cut or separate the completed bag from the bottom of the new bag. The front and back cross jaws operate as a pair. The front and back jaw will both have a top seal area (horizontally) and a bottom seal area. The knife is recessed and is activated by a pneumatic actuator. The opposite jaw set will contain a slot for the knife to pass into. A high-powered pneumatic cylinder actuator is used to close the jaws and provide the necessary sealing pressure to provide good seal quality.

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VFFS Equipment - FAQs

A VFFS machine is a machine that creates individual bags from a single roll of film as well as fills them automatically with a product, sealing and then cutting them from the roll to continue the process over and over.

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