If you’re packaging pharmaceutical products in bottles then an automatic capping machine is equipment you must have.
Well, as a businessman, you will need to save on the time you spend on capping.
In this guide, you will learn about an automatic capping machine that will enhance your capping needs.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in and begin with the basics.
What is Automatic Capping Machine?
In any packaging line that involves liquids, you need to have a reliable capping machine.
The machine will ensure that after filling the bottles, they will get a proper seal preparing them for the next step.
Bottle with cap
In this section, you will learn about the machine that will assist you to complete your packaging line.
Let’s begin with the definition.
An automatic capping machine assists in faster and better placement of caps on top of different containers.
What do I mean?
It means that you can use the machine to place, fit and tighten caps on different containers.
The containers can range from beverage bottles, medicine bottles among others.
Although there are many cap types out there as you will learn, below are some examples of the caps.
Automatic capping machine
- Screw caps which have threads to secure the cap to the container such as plastic screw caps
- Crown caps
- Press-on closures which hold in place using undercuts and beads instead of threads
- Tamper-proof seals which will change in appearance after removing them from the container.
- Tear-off caps which you will simply tear off from the bottle.
- Crimp flutes
- Cork caps that use a lightweight elastic bar of a cork oak for bottle closures.
- Child resistant closures that have a mechanism that make it difficult for a child to open such as pharmaceutical containers.
The capping machine will automatically handle the containers and strengthen the caps to rates depending on the type of machine.
As an operator, you will have to adjust the capping rates of the machine accordingly.
I guess you might wonder why you need to have an automatic capping machine.
Of course, it has its benefits and demerits too.
The machine comes with a lot of benefits that you will realize as soon as you begin using it.
You will realize an increase in production output.
Apart from that, you will see an increase in production efficiency through accurate torque values.
It will help in eliminating labor fatigue and prevents unnecessary injuries
Most automatic capping machines are aseptic and you can easily clean them.
The design of the machine does not allow the presence or growth of pathogenic micro-organisms.
You can use some types of machines in different places due to their portable nature.
You will also save a lot of money as you will not need to hire a lot of human labor.
Well, let’s proceed to the types of automatic capping machines.
Types of Capping Machines
In a liquid packaging system, having a reliable capping machine is very important.
Depending on the type of cap, there are different types of capping machines available.
You can either use chuck cappers, snap cappers, and spindle cappers under the main classification of cappers.
Fully automatic capping machine vs. semi-automatic capping machine
The machines can range from a single head, handheld to low speed all the way to high-speed rotary chucks.
These machines perform different functions at different rates.
Let us have a look at some of the capping machines that you might need for your packaging system.
· Automatic Inline Capping Machine
It is the most popular machine that you can find as it can work for different containers and caps.
The machine can work up to a speed of 200 caps per minute depending on container configuration and capsize.
It will achieve torque control using spring or air load clutches that will tighten and release after reaching target torque.
· Automatic Chuck Capping Machine
This machine is more reliable and costly due to the specific bottle handling change parts.
It also has specific for every different cap size.
They are important in applications that deal with small bottles that may topple over.
It will assist in the particulation of tightening surfaces suitable for pharma industries.
· Automatic Snap Capping Machine
It is a special machine that you can use for NEPCO applications.
It uses the same principle as the inline capping machine but uses minimal pressure to secure the caps in position.
It has fewer moving parts making it less expensive in comparison to other machines.
You are likely to find snap screw types which are hybrid versions.
This version requires both torquing action and downward rolling force.
· Automatic Cap Placer Machine
This machine works better with containers larger than 80 mm.
To prevent cross threading the machine will maintain the containers in a vertical position.
It depends on a cap tightener to place and achieves the target torque of the cap.
You can use it in conjunction with a cap tightener to economically replace a chuck capper.
· Automatic Cap Tightener Machine
You can use this machine for tightening and retightening purposes.
You will have to use it together with a vertical placer to provide the target torque.
In many cases, the machine is for retorquing caps after a series of inductions of sealing events.
Upstream induction can produce too much heat and loosen the caps.
The automatic cap tightener will re-tighten the cap to target torque.
· Automatic Benchtop Capping Machine
This machine works under the same principle as the handheld capping machine but with higher torque reliability.
It depends on an air cylinder that will press down the cap after activation by a footswitch.
The process will ensure a high degree of torque with less labor involvement.
· Handheld Capping Machine
Using this machine will guarantee very low costs and a very high degree of labor.
This machine is purely pneumatic even though you can find electric configurations.
Pneumatic capping machines are easy to operate and repeatability torque will depend on your consistent application of downward pressure.
· Hazardous location capping machines
Hazardous materials including flammables, solvents, and combustible products also require capping.
The machines are explosion proof with intrinsic safe electrical enclosures to insulate electrical systems.
It will protect the hazardous material from autoignition from the electrical systems.
In case of any ignition, the explosion-proof nature of the machine will prevent further damage.
How to Choose a Capping Machine?
As a new player in the packaging industry, you might have some difficulty in choosing a capping machine.
Since there are numerous types of capping machines in the market making a choice may challenge you.
Having the right information at your fingertips can help make the right choice.
In this section, you will go through some of the factors to consider when choosing a capping machine.
Fully automatic capping machine
1. According to the size range of the caps
Whenever you are going for an automatic capping machine, there is an important question you should ask yourself.
What is the size of the range caps that I intend to use?
Caps usually range in diameter from very small e.g. 5 mm to very large 120 mm.
A great size range is often impractical to work on in a capping machine.
Sizes of bottle caps
Very large caps will, therefore, require a capping machine with vertical placing devices and a cap tightener.
Extremely small caps may also pose a greater challenge as it will limit the type of capping machine.
The bottle caps may be too small for any other machine except the “monoblock” system to handle.
The size of the diameter of the caps will also determine the most suitable sorting device.
Small caps may require small vibratory sorting systems while large ones will require bulk elevator sorters.
2. According to the geometries of the caps
In this case, you will have to look at the geometries of the caps you intend to place on different containers.
The height to width ratio of the caps constraints your cap sorting choices.
It will also play a role in determining the type of capping machine you will use for the application.
Flat caps are very easy to handle (sort, apply and tighten) and can work on all types of sorting machines. however, in case the shape changes and the caps become taller than their width.
Your options for choosing an automatic capping machine will reduce to vibratory and centrifugal systems.
Types of caps
The geometries of the caps will determine whether you will choose a machine that is capable of stripping the caps.
It may also give you the choice of picking a machine that will pick and vertically place the cap on the container.
It will also determine and influence your choice of having an “inline” or chuck vertical style capping machine.
Some closures such as pumps, dropper dips and spray heads are economically prohibitive for automatic placing and sorting.
In this case, you will have to go for a tightener to strengthen the caps after manually placing them.
3. According to the closure design and fit of the closure
In this case, you will have to look at the design of the closure and how it fits onto the container.
Some enclosures with tread caps will solely depend on vertical chuck type placement on to specific containers.
The perfect example of this type of cap is the detergent pour spout cup.
They are tall and have a skirt that fits into the mouth of the container before engaging threads for tightening.
Closures such as plugs, stoppers, and corks depend on vertical sorting and placing on to the containers.
The machines that will handle this type of closure run much slower on intermittent motion than inline capping machines.
In line capping machines run on continuous motion and are less expensive in comparison to the vertical placement intermittent machines.
Different types of caps
In case of very small plug designs, you will use “monoblock” systems which might be very expensive for small producers.
4. According to the level of automation (Automatic, Semi-automatic or Manual)
Among the greatest constraints to production processes is the level of automation of the capping process.
Manual capping process is labor intensive and can pose extreme health risks.
It might seem to be cheap but overly expensive in the long run.
It is a slow process and you can never exceed capping 10 containers in a minute.
Semiautomatic capping machines will guarantee you higher rates of containers per minute.
Usually, 15 containers to 20 containers per minute.
Section of fully automatic capping machine
Despite the increase in the number of containers, it will cap in a minute, the labor input is also high.
Fully automatic systems that will sort, place and tighten the caps can reach rates of above 200 containers per minute.
This will depend on whether the cap style is in continuous motion or not.
Caps that depend on the intermittent motion will have a slightly lower production level.
You can reach a maximum of 30 t0 60 CPM on either a single or double plunger and chuck system.
Despite the high speed, the initial cost of purchasing and installing the machine is high.
You don’t have to worry about it as the machine will enhance your production output.
5. According to plant environment and operation considerations
The environment where you will install the automatic capping machine will also determine the type of machine to buy.
Your choice will further depend on the operational considerations that you intend to explore.
In case you intend to work with corrosive chemicals and explosive material.
You will go for a machine with materials that can withstand chemical corrosion.
The supplier should be capable of providing you with a machine that has the right frame style and electrical considerations.
The machine should also be capable of meeting the right quality standards set for different environments.
6. According to Future Production Estimates
Just like any other machine, you need to go for a capping machine that will allow future upgrades.
Benchtop capping machines are likely to hit the ceiling in the future.
Especially with the advancements in the level of technology.
Semi-automatic capping machines can give you an allowance for future upgrades.
You can decide to fully automate the machine to increase the productivity of the packaging plant.
It can be a good option, to begin with especially if you have a lower cost of initial capital.
You need to have a good plan for your project when choosing a capping machine.
Remember that demand might increase and technology will also advance.
So, go for a machine that is flexible enough to adapt to future changes in production scale.
7. According to the level of Integration
A good machine should be able to integrate well with other machines in the production line.
As an example, a benchtop capping machine cannot integrate properly with a power conveyor and automatic fillers and labelers.
An automatic capping machine will roll up to the existing conveyor and automatic conveyor system.
You should go for a machine that will integrate well with other machines in the production system.
It will save you installation time and also enhance the level of production.
8. According to the Initial investment Capital
The amount of investment capital that you have will affect your choice of machine.
The higher the investment capital, the better your chances of getting a good capping machine.
Bottle capping station
Apart from the factors that you have gone through, there are numerous other factors to look at.
i. Cost of additional change parts
ii. Floor space available
iii. Speed of operation
iv. Torque accuracy
The above considerations will assist you in making the right choice for an automatic capping machine.
You have to specify the details to your supplier so that you can get a good capping machine.
Remember to examine the machine for stability, tolerance variance, and any bad inputs.
Applications of Automatic Capping Machines
Capping of containers is the last but very important step in the packaging process.
You can use the capping machine in capping containers in different applications.
Many industries depend on the automatic capping machines to assist in tightening the caps on their packages.
In this section, you are going to learn about some of the industries where automatic capping machines come in handy.
Applications of automatic capping machine
· Industrial or General Packaging Applications
You can use the automatic capping machine in a number of industrial applications.
In many cases, the machine usually assists in placing and tightening the caps on different packages.
Some of the industries include cosmetic industries which secure their content in different types of containers.
Chemical industries also depend on the machine due to the sensitive nature of their products.
· Food and Beverage Processing Applications
You will realize that most of the soft drinks you consume are always in bottles or cans.
Apart from that, food processing industries also preserve food in containers with easy to break containers.
All these processes depend on automatic capping machines to assist in capping the food containers.
· Agricultural Applications
Whenever you purchase agricultural inputs such as pesticides and solvent fertilizers among others.
You will note that most of them come in bottles with very tight seals.
To achieve the tight and tamper-proof caps.
The agricultural input producers depend on automatic capping machines to make such caps.
· Medical and Military Products
The pharmaceutical industry often produces and deliver medicine in different types of containers.
This is not different in any way with military products.
Due to the sensitive nature of these industries, you have to deliver the products in very tight seals.
Automatic capping machines assist in making the tamper-proof seals to avoid any contamination.
Parts of the Automatic Capping Machine
When we talk about the automatic capping machine, you will realize that it comes as a unit with different parts.
These are the parts that work together to enable the machine to place and cap different containers.
Since the machines are different, it is obvious that they will have different parts.
As an example, chuck cappers use rubber inserts while spindle cappers use spinning wheels to tighten caps.
Technical drawing of automatic capping machine
In this section, we are going to look at some of the parts that make up the automatic capping machine.
Let’s dive right in.
Belts or conveyor belt system are very important parts of the automatic capping machine for transport.
You will depend on the belts to move the containers from one part of the machine to the other.
You will also need the belt to guard the containers firmly in position during the placing and capping process.
· Chucks and Inserts
The chucks and inserts will assist you in clamping the caps in position before inserting them on the container.
They are available in different sizes and materials.
You will choose the type of chuck and inserts depending on the type of application.
· Chute Parts
You will need the chute parts or the capper chute to hold the caps in place.
It will place the cap on every container that passes through the chuck or spindles.
It uses different principles to ensure continuous placement and tightening of the caps on the containers.
A clutch will assist the spindle capper to allow for more consistent and accurate torque on the caps.
The function might vary depending on the machine you are using.
In many cases, the clutch is magnetic and will firmly hold the metal caps for accurate and consistent torque.
The air cylinder is a very important part of the pneumatic automatic capping machine.
It is suitable for closing snaps and twist offs on different types of caps.
Apart from that, you can depend on it to hold back the caps in a capping machine.
· Gear Boxes, Motors, and Drives
You can also refer to these parts like the engine of the capping machine.
They assist in controlling the movement of the parts of the capping machine.
You will control the speed of these parts from a control panel on the capper machine.
· Gripper Discs
Just as the name suggests, gripper discs increase the holding grip of the machine.
It increases the torque and the holding strength to prevent spills or any form of misplacement.
It maintains the containers in an upward position as it waits on the placement of the caps.
· Guarding Clamps and hardware
The general function of the guarding clamps and hardware is protecting the parts of the machine from damage.
It assists in holding and joining the different parts of the machine.
Some of the guarding clamp hardware include guarding hinge, guarding handle among others.
Transport in the automatic capping machine system also depends on pulleys.
The pulleys have a connection to the gears and belts to assist in the movement of different parts.
You will find them in different sizes depending on the type of machine you are using.
· Shafts and Sprockets
These parts work together to assist in the transmission of rotary motion between the shafts.
They come in handy, where the gears are not suitable for impacting linear motion.
In short, they are important parts to assist in the movement of different parts of the machine.
· Feeders and sorters
This the part of the machine that will sort and feed the machine with the right caps.
You will note that the design of the cap feeder is often straightforward.
The design of the sorter, on the other hand, will always depend on different cap geometries.
Parts of benchtop capping machine
How Automatic Capping Machine Work
With the information on the different types of automatic capping machines.
You can probably imagine that they have different working principles.
Well, you are not wrong.
The different automatic capping machines have different working principles.
The working principle will depend on the type of machine.
In this section, you are going to learn how the three major classes of automatic capping machines work.
Let’s dive right in.
As the operator, your work will depend on the type of machine you are operating.
The automatic machines will limit your work to tuning a few dials and changing a few parts.
Here, the complexity of the changeover will depend on the type of caps and containers.
Generally, a cap chute will carry closure to a position where the container can pick up caps.
This process can slightly differ depending on the type of machine you are using.
· Spindle Cappers/ Roller Screw Capper
First, you will have to adjust the height of the machine to fit the height of the container.
Remember to adjust the angle and belt width of the containers to match the shape and width of the container.
Loosen or tighten the spindles so that they can comfortably accommodate the width of the cap.
It will also accommodate the torque value of the cap.
The machine works by passing a cap and bottle between different sets of spinning discs or spindles.
The spinning discs will transmit the rotary motion to the cap.
The cap will then turn in to the right place.
You can find spindle cappers which are semi-automatic.
This type of machine will require you to place the cap manually on the container.
The container will move under the spindle capper for tightening.
Apart from that, you can also find a fully automatic spindle capping machine.
In this case, the machine will place the caps automatically on the container.
It will depend on a vibratory bowl or an elevator that will supply the caps to the chute.
The machine will strip the cap which will stabilize as it moves through the tightening process.
You can use the spindle capper to cap screw type cap or round lugs.
This includes the caps with trigger tops or odd tips.
The machine can operate at high speeds of 200 caps per minute.
Finally, adjust the delivery system and the cap delivery chute to move the bottles from one station to the next.
The process will continue until your operations are complete.
You will note that spindle cappers are can cap different types of caps without making changes to the machine.
They are also inexpensive in comparison to the volume that the machine is able to produce.
Apart from that, they are reliable and will not cost much for maintenance.
Besides the benefits, the machine has its limitations.
The initial set up of the machine is difficult and your specialty caps are often costly to move.
· Chuck Cappers
The chuck cappers depend on securing a wide range of closures to respective containers by using rotating chuck heads.
First, you will adjust the machine and allow it to place the caps on the containers.
After that, you will manually or automatically lower the rotating chuck head over the cap.
As the chuck head rotates, it tightens the cap on to the bottle.
The chuck cappers provide very high torque values and you can use it for different cap styles.
Some of the cap styles include oval caps, flat caps, pull spouts, child proof caps, safety caps, and sport caps.
You can adjust the machine to fit different cap styles and sizes.
The changeover will begin with making an adjustment on the caps to match the style of the cap.
You will also adjust the height of the chuck head and guide rails.
The adjustments should match the width and height of the container.
Finally, you will also have to adjust the tightness for the torque value you desire.
The speed of changeover will depend on the type of machine you are using and the operator.
They are good for the most consistent and highest torque values in all the equipment.
· Snap Cappers
These are capping machines that are continuously in motion to replace manual snap type caps.
You can use it in placing caps on different containers such as milk jugs, over caps among others.
The cap is often very simple and holds on to the container by friction.
First, you will have to adjust the machine to match the specifications that you desire.
After that, the machine will place the cap on to the container.
You will activate the machine using a finger or a foot switch depending on the type of machine.
As the containers move from one station to the next on a conveyor belt.
The machine will snap the lid on the container as it goes through the capping area.
Also, the machine does not have to apply a lot of pressure as the cap will stick through friction.
Baby powder with cap
I believe you have seen how different automatic capping machines work.
You will choose a machine depending on the application.
Let’s move on to the next section where you will learn about troubleshooting the automatic capping machine.
Troubleshooting Automatic Capping Machine
In any form of operation, you are likely to come across issues with the system you are operating.
It might take you a while to identify the source of the problem.
To simplify the work, you can trouble shoot the machine and identify the problem faster.
Here, we are going to take you through the process of trouble shooting an automatic capping machine.
By now, you know that there are different types of automatic capping machines.
These machines can develop different kinds of complications.
In this case, we are going to have a look at one of the most common problems in all the machines.
You can identify it as “missed caps”.
Section of automatic capping machine
In an automatic capping machine, you will definitely need a delivery system.
Even though different machines have different closures, missed caps is often a hindrance to production.
It can cause spills, splashes, and slow the production process.
Regardless of the type of machine you are using, there are common areas that you can check for missed caps.
Missed caps is a general term that you can use to identify a series of problems in an automatic capping machine.
It can either be a missing cap, cross threads, crooked closures or erroneous closures.
First, you will check the position of the delivery system.
A properly functioning capping machine has the delivery system in proper alignment.
For tricky closures, simple things like bumps or vibrations in the system can cause derailment of the delivery system.
You should, therefore, look at smooth transition and proper alignment of the chute fingers.
In case of any issues, simple realignment will help in sorting the missed cap issue.
In addition to that, the other adjustment will involve checking bad seals or closures.
Adjusting the heights of the machine for bottle changeover might result in uncapped bottles.
In this case, you will have to repeat the alignment process more than once to ensure it is in order.
Finally, in some capping machines component and the conveyor speed can be a problem.
In case the speed of the conveyor and the gripping belt do not match.
The bottles might tip over and cause spills of the liquid.
To solve this problem, you have to align and adjust the speed of the components and the conveyor.
It will have an impact on the reliability of the component capping and sealing.
While these are some of the main areas that you have to look at.
You have to note that there are different types of adjustment and alignment techniques.
The techniques will vary according to the type of machine that you are using.
Spindle cappers might require you to adjust the wheels.
Chuck cappers might force you to adjust the sizing of the cappers or a replacement of the inserts altogether.
You can always contact a technician with relevant experience to assist you in troubleshooting and making necessary adjustments.
Technical Specifications of the Automatic Capping Machine
To get a good machine, you need to know the exact type that you intend to use.
You need to have the technical specifications of the automatic capping machine at your fingertips.
In this section, you will learn about the specification to consider before making an order.
Technical specification of automatic capping machine
· Cap Size
The size of the cap ranges depending on the type of container it will cover.
You need to specify the cap size range to your supplier.
He will use this information to get the right automatic capping machine that will match your cap size.
· Torque Range
The torque range will depend on the type of cap that you need to work on.
It will determine how tight the cap will stick on the bottle.
The specifications of the torque range will depend on the sensitivity of the application.
These are the measurements that will determine the height, width, and length of the machine.
You have to specify how long or wide your machine will be in millimeters.
The bigger the dimensions the bigger the machine will be.
You will need heavier machines for large scale applications that can handle heavier containers.
The dimensions of the machine can have a huge effect on the weight of the machine.
The bigger the machine, the heavier it will be.
· Air Requirements
The air requirement will determine the pressure or force that will place and tighten the cap.
Specify the air requirement according to the torque range you expect to use.
Most manufacturers make machines that have adjustable air requirements.
This will allow you to adjust the rate accordingly.
· Electrical Requirements
The operations of the automatic capping machine fully depend on electricity.
Also, the electrical requirements will vary according to the scale of production.
Specify the electrical requirement depending on the scale of your application.
You might need to involve the power company to allocate the right electrical power for your machine.
· Cap type
Your supplier will provide you with a machine that can cap different cap types.
There are, however, certain cap types that require special machines.
Discuss with your supplier on the type of caps you need so that he can deliver according to your needs.
These and other specifications will not be as useful to you if you ignore the user requirement specification.
In the section, you will learn about the specifications you need to have at your fingertips.
URS for Automatic Capping Machine
User requirement specifications are the standards that you need to satisfy before operating an automatic capping machine.
These standards will enhance the level of operation and besides that, keep you safe.
Apart from that, they will guide you on what to do to ensure smooth operations.
Let’s have a look at some of the things you need to know.
First, you need to make sure that you have all the right attire in place.
The attire will protect you from injuries in case of accidents.
It can protect your skin from burns in case you were dealing with corrosive fluids.
Apart from that, you need to have knowledge of operating the machine.
The higher the level of experience the better. In case you don’t have the relevant knowledge, you can hire an expert to assist you.
The knowledge of operation will also involve taking good care of the machine.
You have to service the machine when service is due.
Service includes greasing the moving parts and changing the parts that are not working properly.
You should also clean the machine regularly immediately after completing your daily operations.
Thorough cleaning is also important once in a while where you will dismantle the machine and clean it.
Your knowledge of operation will help you detect any defects on the machine in case of a problem.
You can identify such issues by just listening to the kind of noise the machine produces.
In many cases, the machine usually has a user guide or manual.
The user guide or manual has specific parts that will help you in doing a thorough inspection.
It will guide you on the time that you will have to clean the machine.
It will also take you through certain procedures that will allow you to troubleshoot the machine.
It is very important to check the parts of the machine and test it before beginning your operations.
Apart from that, at the end of the operations, make sure you do another inspection.
Make sure that you leave the machine in proper condition after using it.
Documentation is also a very important factor to consider.
It will help you keep track of every step you take.
It will also allow you to know the level of inputs you are putting in and how much profit you are getting.
Was this guide useful?
I believe it will take care of all your capping machine needs.
The information in this guide will be the basis of your success in using a capping machine.
It will come in handy when you are making an order for a custom machine among other situations.
Wait no longer, it is time to revamp your operations with an automatic capping machine.
For free consultations and inquiries on automatic capping machine, contact us today.