2020 Product Review: Piston Filling Machines

Both automatic and semi-automatic piston filling machines offer a versatile filling solution for a wide range of products. However, when packaging thick products that do not flow easily or products that include particulates such as sauces, jams or jellies, the piston filling machine will often offer the best filling solution.

Piston fillers allow product to enter an empty cylinder before being pushed out by the piston into the waiting containers. The cylinder allows for a large, open area for product to gather, which is why the machines are ideal for products with large particulates or chunks. The piston filler also offers a highly accurate volumetric fill in that the volume of the cylinder will not change from cycle to cycle.

Piston and cylinder combinations are available in different sizes, but one piston size will allow a packager to fill a range of bottles. For example, a sixteen- ounce piston could be used to fill not only sixteen-ounce containers, but four and eight ounce bottles as well. In fact, by cycling the piston twice, a sixteen-ounce piston could also be used to fill thirty-two ounce containers. Where the range of container sizes is extreme, multiple pistons might rarely be used, as cycling the piston too many times to fill a single container can greatly harm the efficiency of the machine.

As noted earlier, piston fillers are available in both semi-automatic and automatic variations, allowing them to be used as a filling solution for projects both large and small. The three most common types manufactured include the automatic piston filler, which uses a power conveyor, indexing system and PLC to allow for repeated cycles of filling without continuous operator interaction. Tabletop piston filling machines are also popular for low to medium production facilities. These versions, as the name suggests, sit on a tabletop and require the operator to position the bottle and activate the fill each cycle. Finally, semi-automatic machines built on full frames provide a solution for packagers who expect growth and plan to one day make the move to automatic production.

All piston filling machines will be manufactured specifically for the packager and the packager's project. So while some form of the three versions above make up a majority of the piston fillers produced by Liquid Packaging Solutions, custom machines may also be built for custom projects. To learn more about these filling machines, visit the Piston Filler page of the LPS website or contact LPS to discuss your own project and needs today.