Molten Filling Machines
Molten Filling Machines
Molten filling machines are used for products such as wax, candles, glue and other products that must be filled while hot. Many times, the heating process will thin very thick products, or even liquefy solid products, so that they will flow through a filling machine. However, usually these product must not only be kept hot, but they must also be kept at a consistent temperature throughout the fill process, as changes in viscosity can lead to inconsistent and unreliable fill levels, plugged product pathways and other packaging machine issues.
To keep the product at the same temperature throughout the product pathway, molten fillers will often use heating elements on the tank, pump, tubing and/or nozzles. These elements will be matched with temperature controllers to ensure the temperature and the viscosity of the product remains constant. The heating can be achieved using tape, blankets, jackets or other elements that can safely be warmed and controlled through the use of a temperature controller.
The operation of a molten filling machine does not differ that much from any other liquid filler. For automatic models, a touchscreen interface will allow the operator to easily set and record delay and duration times as well as turn on and off the different components of the filler. Both indexing and fill times, if not factory pre-set, can be quickly and easily determined by manually running through a fill cycle.
Semi-automatic molten fillers will usually require the placement of the bottles on a slide track and the alignment of the bottles under the fill head. The operator of the semi-automatic filling machine will then step on a foot switch or press a finger switch to activate the fill cycle. While the semi-automatic machines are productive for many molten products, keep in mind that to be efficient on this type of machine, the operator will need to handle the product filled container shortly after the fill to remain efficient. For products requiring extremely high temperatures, the automatic molten filler has the benefit of added safety through less container and product handling by the operator.
In addition to the obvious added safety issues surrounding the packaging of molten products, the main difference (from an operating perspective) with a molten filler is the necessary warm up time before production starts and the cool down time before any maintenance or cleaning can be performed at the end of the day. This time is usually minimal and will be far outweighed by the efficiency of the machine versus hand filling, it should still be considered when moving to automation.
For a number of products, automating the packaging process will require a molten filler. In addition, the packaging line will require other special components, such as heat resistant conveyor belt or possibly even a cooling conveyor to allow product to set between the filler and the capping machine. However, do not assume that just because your product is thick or sticky - or even a solid! - that automated packaging is not available.