V-Shapes is an innovative supplier of the convenient, hygienic and durable single dose form/fill/seal packaging machine known as Alpha. At PACK EXPO Las Vegas, the company debuted its unique AlphaFlex system, which adds inline digital printing to form, fill and seal capabilities (1). This professional-grade, compact dispensing and delivery system from V-Shapes offers high-quality, synchronized digital printing on both sides of pouches.
It should be noted that AlphaFlex is powered by Memjet DuraFlex® digital printing technology and ColorGATE, a modular solution for color and data management throughout the packaging production chain. V-Shapes AlphaFlex dosing and dispensing technology enables vertical integration of high-volume production of patented V-Shapes single-dose pouches, eliminating the need to outsource printing and returning full manufacturing control to owners of the brand and to co-packers.
V-Shapes says developing synchronized feeds and professional-quality printing of the patented single-dose pouches was no small challenge, and the company adds that the revolutionary filling/converting machine was made possible by to a variety of important partnerships, including Memjet, Siemens, and SIHL, as well as the talented team of V-Shapes engineers. SIHL is the converter that produces the flexible film materials used to make the pouches. Several different adhesive laminates – some including aluminum foil for barrier purposes and some not – can be used depending on the specific application.
The AlphaFlex features in-line printing integrated into V-Shapes’ six-lane ALPHA machine, allowing package converters/fillers to complete the complete manufacturing process of V-Shapes’ unique single-dose pouches under one roof with a compact footprint and full color. branding capabilities – online, on demand and with the highest quality in the industry. In the AlphaFlex configuration, the print module prints single-sided single-dose pouches in-line, synchronized with each other and precisely matched for cut, fill and seal.
Another novelty in the portfolio of equipment offered by V-Shapes is its digital printing solution close to the VS dflex line. An early adopter of this system is US Health Supply of Mooresville, North Carolina, which identifies, sources and delivers safety and medical supplies to frontline workers and first responders. Health Supply US already operates two V-Shapes Alpha single dose packaging machines. “Once we installed our first Alpha and were on our way to our second, it also became clear that we could easily print onsite with the VS dflex printer rather than outsourcing it,” says the associate. director Cesar Garcia.
The VS dflex proximity roll-to-roll printer, which also incorporates Memjet DuraFlex® inkjet printing technology, makes it easy to print flexible packaging on-site, eliminating the need to outsource printing or to immobilize other printing equipment in the factory, in particular for shorter series of personalized bags. For Health Supply US, these acquisitions dramatically transformed the design and approval process for single-dose products, making it easier to meet tight customer delivery deadlines and setting the company apart from the competition.
“I have a background in printing and have looked at all possibilities of being able to show our customers immediately what their packaging would look like instead of putting together a file, sending it to an outside printer, having them print a print run massive and then come back and put it on our Alpha to fill it up,” says Garcia. “By using both the Alpha and the VS dflex, I’m able to do everything on the spot and on demand; and that saves me about 2.5 weeks minimum for each project, dramatically improving our cycle time Now I can go see a client in the morning, and in the afternoon I print them sample pouches that I can show them the next day !
The VS dflex produces color printing with aqueous inks at 1600 DPI at speeds up to 24.7 m/min (90 ft/min). SIHL’s specialist film allows inks to absorb instantly without the need for UV treatment or drying, and the speed at which the dflex works means it can be used for production runs, not just samples. The flexibility offered by the combination of V-Shapes Alpha and VS dflex has also opened up new opportunities for the company. Garcia says, “While we were originally looking for sanitizers for packaging, we are now also looking to produce various types of creams and lotions. Besides the need for medical gels that can be conveniently and hygienically dispensed, we also see opportunities for packaging high-end or sample sauces for cosmetics, as well as products for other industries. This allows us to provide our customers with a complete end-to-end solution that goes beyond simple bag filling.
Rovema took advantage of the PACK EXPO Las Vegas to launch its CBF (Collect, Buffer, Feed) concept. This unique, patented innovation brings remarkable flexibility to dose mixed products into a single bag or dose varied products into their own separate bags in a perforated “chain bag” format, all on one machine.
The machine presented at PACK EXPO was a Rovema vf/f/s system. Above was a B&R SuperTrak, which uses magnet technology to guide individually controllable shuttles along a track using long linear stator motors. Mounted at various locations above the SuperTrack were three separate dosing units, each responsible for depositing a different product into containers mounted on the SuperTrak shuttles. When these containers reach the feed tube of the vf/f/s machine, their contents fall down the tube and into a bag formed from a roll of flexible film.
The best way to appreciate what CBF brings to the table is to view two typical applications: fixing kits for DIY furniture and tea packed in perforated string bags. Suppose a fixing kit should contain a screw, a washer and a nut. By placing each item in its own dosing unit, all three items can be easily dropped into the shuttle-mounted containers that move around the SuperTrak and then down the supply tube of the vf/f/s system. What better way to make a single bag containing all three items in one production run?
Now imagine a distributor of teas who wants to pack a chain bag of three units with green tea in one bag, black tea in another and chamomile in a third? Again, there would be three dosage units each containing a different tea. When the green tea falls into the feeding tube, the heat sealing tools close on this dose and a puncture is made. The same thing happens for the dose of black tea and again for the dose of chamomile. Except that after the introduction of chamomile, Rovema tooling cuts the three-point chain bag free and it falls into the discharge chute. Switching from individual bag production to chain bag production is done on the HMI panel.
Other examples of bespoke applications for the CBF concept would be a single bag containing a powder and a solid. If both are dosed from a single dosing unit, it is difficult to have real control over the proportion of solid to powder. This problem is completely solved when the powder can be accurately dosed from one unit and the solid from another. Or imagine a muesli mix. Again, by dosing rolled oats, raisins, sunflower seeds and walnut pieces each from their own dosing unit, much greater control of product proportions can be achieved.
It should be noted that when it comes to chain bags, the system can be programmed so that each unit is the same size. But if an application requires the units to vary in height, this can also be programmed on the HMI.
As for the types of dosing units that can be integrated into the CBF, cup fillers and auger fillers would in almost all cases be components manufactured by Rovema. But combination scales can also be part of the mix, in which case Rovema would integrate a machine from another OEM.
Two final remarks on the launch of CBF. The Janich & Klass PC-based controller that governs the Rovema vf/f/s system is tightly synchronized with SuperTrak’s B&R PC-based controller. And finally, Rovema says the CBF concept can also be applied to its range of SBS machines, which combine form/fill/seal technology with specialized top forming systems for compact bricks and block bottom bags.
A final innovation on the f/f/s side of things was on display at Butler Automatic, a leading producer of web splicing equipment that keeps horizontal and vertical form fill sealing systems running without interruption. Historically, splicing has always been done by applying tape. Sometimes, especially in cold, wet, or dusty conditions, this area spliced with tape may catch on the forming collar. So Butler invented what he calls S3, or Same Side Seal Technology (2). This is a way to remove the tape and use a hot wire tool to join the sealing side of the expiring roll to the sealing side of the new fed roll. The company presented its new solution at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.
As is the case with its previous offerings, a large quantity of film is accumulated on a system of dancer bars so that, during the making of the splicing, there is no interruption in the operation of the packaging machine. which receives the flexible film. Butler says the S3 is available on new SP1 automatic splicers or as a field upgrade on existing SP1 splicers.