Packaging Machinery 2021: Liquid Filling Machines
Different filling machines will complete their tasks using different principles. These different principles, however, do not necessarily coincide with specific industries. In other words, different filling machines will be seen in the same industry depending on the specific product being filled and the needs and desires of the specific packager. In addition to the different principles, certain filling machines are also better at handling different viscosities. While a boom in a certain industry may lead to an increase in the use of one filler over another, such increased demand is not the biggest factor in the use of a type of filler. Below we look at four different filling machines that will likely lead the way on the LPS production floor in 2021.
Piston filling machines use a fill by volume principle that allows packagers to work with a range of products. The piston filler uses a cylinder to assure the same volume of product is pulled from a bulk source with each cycle. As the cylinder size never changes, the volume pulled into the cylinder never changes, allowing for very accurate volumetric fills. Historically, these machines have been popular in both tabletop and automatic versions, for both low and high production demand, and the versatility of the machine means that is unlikely to change in 2021. The push of the piston and the large cylinder make the filler ideal for thick, or high viscosity products, but the piston filler can also handle lower viscosity products as well.
The overflow filling machine represents the one non-volumetric filling machine on this list of the four most popular filling machines. Overflow filling machines allow a packager to fill each container to the same pre-set level in the bottle. Also available in semi-automatic and automatic models, this machine is popular among packagers using clear bottles which allow the liquid to be seen inside the bottle. The level fill creates an aesthetically pleasing shelf appearance for clear container products. This fill is achieved by using special nozzles that seal over a bottle opening and allow product to "overflow" through the nozzle and back into the holding tank when the desired level is reached. The overflow filler is generally used for water-like, free-flowing products, as pushing extremely thick products back through the overflow port can lower efficiency through extended fill times.
Another filling machine used generally for free-flowing products is the gravity filling machine. As the name suggests, this bottle filler uses gravity to allow bottles to be filled to a specific volume. Product is held in an overhead tank and gravity nozzles open and close for a pre-set amount of time, allowing the liquid to flow from the tank into the waiting containers. Each fill head will be individually adjustable as to time, to ensure an accurate volumetric fill on each head where the machine utilizes multiple fill heads. Like the other machines, these fillers can be manufactured with varying degrees of automation to be used by packagers large and small. High viscosity products, like honey or pastes, are not ideal for the gravity filler, as the slow flow will lead to inefficient fill times.
The pump filler can be thought of as a way to achieve the volumetric fill of the gravity filler for thick products. Rather than rely on gravity, these machines use a pump to help push thicker products from the holding tank to the bottles or other containers. The pump used for any given pump filler will be matched to the product or products being run. Pump fillers may fill by time, just like a gravity filler, or they may fill by pulse. A pulse will equal a specific function of the pump. For example, if a gear pump is being used, a pulse may be equal to a full turn, half turn or quarter turn of the gear. Pump fillers, like the other filling machines mentioned above, can be manufactured to handle a range of speeds or production demand.
Not sure which filling machine would work best for your own project? Contact Liquid Packaging Solutions to discuss your products, bottles, production demands and more with a packaging specialist and help determine the ideal filling solution for your own needs!