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. And most blister packs are produced with a thermoform/fill/seal machine, a close cousin.
FFS machines might fill the package from the top or the side.
The final step can include a 3- or 4-sided seal. For many years, heat sealing has been the preferred method to perform the crucial final step. One trend we’ve seen in this market is for ultrasonic sealing, which is suitable for heat-sensitive products, permits sealing through liquids and uses a narrow sealing band to reduce excess and save on material use. More recently, ultrasonic developments include the forming of logos for branding or other graphics into the seal area. For more on this, see www.packagingdigest.com/ultrasonic
For thermoform-fill-seal applications in the healthcare arena, vision inspection has been integrated for confirming product loading and positioning in the formed cavities, detecting seal imperfections, and discovering contaminants. Vision inspection is also being integrated for the real-time verification of two-dimensional (2D) bar codes that may be printed onto packages in line in preparation for meeting FDA’s Unique Device Identification requirements, sister publication Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News reports.