Piston Fillers for High Viscosity Products - An Overview

Piston filling machines are popular as both tabletop and automatic inline machines at Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc. While these machines can handle a wide range of viscosities, they are more popular for packagers that have thicker products such as honey, jams, jellies, syrups and the like.

While tabletop piston fillers are typically single head machines that will require an operator to place each container under the head and activate the fill cycle, automatic piston fillers can have multiple fill heads and will use a PLC and an operator interface to allow for hands off filling as the bottles or other containers travel down the conveyor. Both levels of automation will use a volumetric filling principle that, due to the unchanging nature of the cylinder being filled with product, will always be highly accurate.

Cylinders included on either machine are available in different sizes that will allow for the equipment to fill a range of container sizes. To understand how the machine fills a range of containers, a packager should first understand how a piston filler generally works. Simply put, the piston will retract from the cylinder allowing product from a hopper or bulk source to enter the cylinder. Once the cylinder is full of product, the piston returns to the cylinder, pushing the product through the fill head or nozzle and in to the bottle.

One advantage of an LPS piston filler over some other models is the ability to partially pull back the cylinder. For example, with an eight ounce cylinder, the piston filler can be set up to pull back only three ounces, rather than the full eight. Other machines will fill the cylinder with eight ounces of product and attempt to dispense only three, which can lead to lower accuracy on the fills. So an LPS piston filler with an eight ounce cylinder can fill a wide range of containers up to eight ounces with one retraction without sacrificing accuracy.

Piston filling machines also have the ability to fill both viscous and free flowing products, which makes the machine ideal for packagers dealing with a range of products having a range of viscosities. This versatile machine can also be set up as a semi-automatic filler on a full frame, which allows for the machine to be upgraded to run automatically if product demand grows in the future.

Standard features on the automatic piston filler include a heavy duty portable frame, touchscreen control panel, power height adjustment, vision systems and tool free adjustments. The tabletop machine will include foot pedal or finger switch operation, simple volume adjustment via a handwheel and tool free adjustment as well. To learn more about these machines, visit the Piston Filler section of the LPS website or contact a Packaging Specialist at LPS today.