Flow Wrap Machine: The Ultimate Guide

The need for flow wrap packaging solutions continues to expand due to the many benefits they offer.

In 2023, the value for flow wrap packaging was estimated to be USD 27,876 million with a growth expected to peak 3.8% by 20233. At the moment, most packaging industries are investing in flow wrap machines.

But, what is a flow wrapping machine? How does it work and why should you invest in these packaging machines?

Well, you will find everything about flow wrapping machines right here – let’s dive right in:

What is a Flow Wrapping Machine?

 

A flow wrapper is an electromechanical machine specifically designed to cover products using special films as items pass the packaging compartment.

That is, as the conveyor belt moves the products, the machine automatically wraps and seals them. In most cases, the process is fast and seamless.

Although the working principle is virtually the same, these flow wrap packaging machines come in many designs and configurations.

Benefits of Flow Wrapper

Flow Wrapping Machine
Flow Wrapping Machine

There are many reasons why you should consider film flow wrapping equipment as an ultimate packaging solution.

  • Depending on the wrapping film, the flow wrapping machine offers a safe and reliable packaging solution. This ensures all your products are free from any contamination
  • An efficient packaging solution you can easily integrate into your main packaging line
  • It offers a versatile packaging solution for a range of products
  • Airtight sealing that ensures safety and hygiene
  • Offers a wide range of tolerance during product packaging
  • Easy to set up and adjust the packaging to meet dynamic sealing industry requirements

Features of Flow Wrap Machine

Flow wrapper machine features vary depending on the design. However, there are standard features you will find in semi-automatic or fully automatic flow wrapper machines.

Let’s look at some common features:

Advanced Design and Configuration

Such machines can handle different packaging requirements. That is, you can package a wide range of products, with varying flow wrapping packaging speeds.

Easy to Use

With the HMI interface, easy-to-install wrapping film, and product feeding systems, machine operators do not require advanced training.

Automate Film Wrapping Process

Most film flow wrap packaging machines feature PLC systems with touch screen HMI. It ensures consistent packaging and an efficient error detection system. In case of malfunction, there is an automatic stop option.

Seamless Conveyor Systems

It ensures seamless movement of items ready for packaging. By reducing the contact point between the machine and the products, the machine significantly reduces the possible contamination.

Food Safe

By complying with the cGMP and using food-grade material, the flow wrapper machine remains safe for handling food products.

Parts of Flow Wrap Machine

Parts of Flow Wrapping Machine
Parts of Flow Wrapping Machine

A flow wrap machine is an assembly of many parts and components. Looking at the machine, you will realize it has mechanical, electrical, and pneumatic components.

All these parts coordinate for an efficient flow-wrapping process.

Of interest here, is the flow wrapping process. A reason we will only focus on key parts that play an integral role during the wrapping process. That is, from:

  • Wrapping film feeding
  • Manipulating the wrapping material ready for the packaging process
  • Feeding products you would like to wrap
  • Flow wrapping section to,
  • Flow-wrapped product discharge section

To make this simple for you, let’s summarize parts of the flow wrapper in the table below:

Parts of Flow Wrapper MachineFunction of Each Component
In-feed conveyor· In most cases, the electric motors drive the conveyor system

· Conveyor systems move products to the packaging station for the wrapping process

· Usually, systems have pushers or structures that help move products to the packaging station

Film feeding system· It consists of a series of rollers, and web control mechanisms that direct the film to the sealing station.

· They ensure there are no wrinkles on the film. Usually, the movement is integrated with that of the conveyor system.

· For example, there is the powered feed roll that facilitates the movement of the wrapping film.

Sensors· For error detection and correction, these flow wrap systems have sensors.

· For instance, some machines have converter splice detection, automatic film tracking systems, and end-of-reel detection

Splicer system· Connects two film reels. That is, it easily connects the film at the end and beginning of the reel
Film cutting equipment· Cuts films during packaging to ensure perfect sealing and minimize film wastage
Self-centering reel holder· Unifies the film center of the film reel thereby eliminating mechanical adjustments
Forming and sealing station· It shapes the film to the desired shape to wrap products

· They come in different shapes and you can configure them depending on the product size

· Both product wrapping and sealing take place in this compartment

· Depending on the machine configuration, it may have a film folding section, fin wheels, end seal crimpers, serrated knives, and heaters (for head sealing)

Pulling wheel· You can adjust the wheel by wagging either right or left

· It helps to position film ready for the packaging process

 

Before we explore how these parts coordinate to execute the flow-wrapping process, let’s discuss the wrapping film. Remember, film is the primary material we use for the wrapping process here.

Choosing Film for Flow Wrap Packaging

Flow Wrapping Machine
Flow Wrapping Machine

Films form an integral component of the flow wrapping process. Remember, it is this film that covers your products.

Whether you want to wrap candies, food, or medical products, choosing the right film wrapper will guarantee the success of your packaging process.

However, even before we explore detailed requirements, you must decide whether you want to use clear or printed wrapping films. These are the simplest variables you can consider.

However, let’s explore some common flow wrap films.

Common Flow Wrap Films for Packaging

Type of Flow Wrap FilmFeatures and Properties of Flow Wrapping Film
Polypropylene (PP) Film· Available as transparent, opaque, and printed options

· Does not offer better protection from oxygen and moisture

· Suitable for film wrapping many products including snacks, candy, etc.

Polyethylene (PE) Film· Comes in three main grades – low density, high density, and liner low density

· Low and linear-density PE films are flexible and offer good clarity. They are perfect for both stretch-wrapping and shrink-wrapping

· High-density PE is suitable for wrapping frozen foods

Polyester (PET) Film· Mostly available as a composite film wrapping where PET is laminated with other films

· Laminated PET offers superior properties including water, heat, and UV resistance.

 

However, one fundamental question you could be asking yourself is – how then do you choose the right film wrapper for packaging?

Well, here is a quick checklist:

1. Flow Warp Packaging Objectives

It is important to consider efficiency, cost-effectiveness, safety, performance, and quality. For instance, opting for dual films in flow wrap packaging will offer more flexibility. Besides, this will also guarantee high efficiency.

2. Packaging Requirements

You must consider the products you wish to package. For instance, you may wish to protect products from UV, excess heat, light, moisture, etc.

In such situations, you must choose modified flow-wrapping films. You may consider:

  • Oxygen transmission rate
  • Water transmission rate
  • Modified atmosphere packaging
  • UV resistance

The degree of protection will depend on the products you wish to package.

3. Sealing Technique

Your film wrap packaging process is not complete without a proper sealing technique. Among the most common sealing techniques are cold seals or heated seals.

Cold seals work well with films with glue or adhesive. On the other hand, heated seals are known for high-integrity seals.

More importantly, the product you wish to package will determine the type of film wrapper for your products.

How Flow Wrapper Machine Works

 

Flow wrapping offers effective and reliable packaging in modern industries. With fully automated options, these packaging machines guarantee consistency, with virtually no product contamination.

How to operate a flow wrapper is straightforward. However, the sequence of packaging steps may vary slightly depending on the flow packaging machine design.

Let’s look at how a flow wrapper works:

Step 1: Load and Configure the Flow Wrap Packaging Film

First, you must the film you will use to wrap your products. As mentioned earlier, you can choose PP, PET, or PE films depending on the products you wish to flow wrap.

At this juncture, you must pay attention to the film width.

Although the film wrap machine configurations may vary, in most designs we have the film in a fixed grip. This allows the film wrap to rotate during the packaging process.

There are a few factors you must consider when installing and configuring the film:

  • Fasten the film structure to ensure it does not fall
  • According to the manufacturers’ instructions, ensure the film passes through the recommended roller stations with film
  • Most machines have markings or sensors to ensure the film is in the right position
  • Ensure the machine is tightened properly to prevent possible wrinkling during the film-wrapping process.

Step 2: Adjust the Films

Using different roller systems and web control systems, adjust the film to ensure it is tightly secured in the flow wrapping machine.

This will ensure there is enough tension that allows the film to move freely during the flow wrap packaging process.

Remember, these films come in different widths and thicknesses depending on your flow wrap packaging requirements. Once you have the flow wrap film ready, it is now time to put your products ready for the wrapping process.

Step 3: Put Products or Items Ready for Wrapping Process

Here, identify and put products ready for the packaging process. Depending on the type of flow wrapper machine, you can feed products manually or automatically.

A guide plate will push the products ready for the wrapping process.

Step 4: Configure the Machine using the HMI

Once you have the film and products ready, it is time to configure your machine ready for the process. The configuration may vary depending on the machine type.

For instance, you may set the packaging speed, sealing temperature, tracking function, etc.

Step 5: Start to Actual Flow Wrapping Process

How the flow wrapper machine works is straightforward. The process involves:

  • Start by switching on the machine. The conveyor will start moving products to the wrapping station. At the same time, the rollers will move the film ready to wrap products.
  • At the wrapping station, the machine feeds and forms the film to a suitable shape around the product.
  • The machine forms and seals the product as it moves to the end sealing station. At this stage, the machine also cuts extra film from the product
  • Fully wrapped product is transported to the ejection section.

Remember, the entire process is seamless and continuous. Depending on the machine design, we can summarize the entire process for horizontal flow wrappers as:

  • Forming a bag that will contain the products
  • Filling the bag or wrapping
  • Sealing the “bag” that contains the product
  • Discharging fully wrapped product

Note: Configuring the machine varies depending on the flow wrapper machine model. Always refer to the machine manual to get the specific configuration requirements.

Flow Wrapping Process
Flow Wrapping Process

Types of Flow Wrap Machines

Flow wrap machines come in many configurations. First, it is worth noting that these machines come in different designs and models. Therefore, this may form an integral classification criteria.

Generally, the most common classification criteria when it comes to flow-wrapping machines include:

Horizontal Flow Wrapping Machine

As the name suggests, the horizontal flow wrap packaging machine has a horizontal orientation. They tend to resemble horizontal form fill seal (HFFS) packaging machines.

Remember, with the HFFS, the machine creates a bag and fills products during the packaging process. Well, this may not be the case with all horizontal film flow wrapper machines. This is because most of these machines do not fill products.

Rotary Motion Flow Wrapper Machine

The main focus here is the flow of packaging film and the product you wish to package. That is, in these machines, the packaging takes place on a fixed axis. Or, the movement takes place in a circular path within a fixed axis.

Fully-automatic Flow Wrap Machine

The filling process is fully automated. That is, both the flow of the film and the products you wish to package takes place automatically.

Here, you will put products in the hopper. The machine will automatically put products in the conveyor belt system. At the same time, the wrapping film moves automatically to cover/wrap and then seal the products.

Semi-automatic Flow Wrap Machine

Although certain processes are automated, there are those that the machine operator will handle. In most cases, the wrapping film feeding process is automated. However, the operator will feed products to be packaged.

For instance, the operator will put products to be packed manually in the conveyor belt system. After this, the other process will be automatic. That is, feeding film, wrapping, and ejecting the product.

Apart from these, there are other classification criteria you may use such as:

  • Long dwell flow wrap machine
  • Box motion flow wrap machine
  • Side sealing flow wrap machine

These classifications vary depending on the unique features a machine offers.

Applications of Flow Wrap Machine

Many industries use flow wrapper equipment in their production line. The good thing, you can implement a flow wrapping machine as a primary packaging solution or secondary packaging.

Among the main industries that have benefited from this packaging solution are:

Food Industries

Many food products such as lollipops, beef, chicken, biscuits, pizzas, or dried food products in trays can easily be packaged using this machine.

Stationery Industries

Packaging items such as pens, cards, books, or magazines is convenient and easy using flow wrapper machines

Household Manufacturing Industries

With a flow wrapper machine, you can package napkins, cutlery, wipes, or kitchen accessories.

FAQs

What is the Recommended Sealing Temperature for Flow Wrap Equipment?

This temperature varies depending on the wrapping film and products. At the same time, the film thickness will also determine the sealing temperature.

What is the difference between Overwrapping and Flow Wrapping?

Overwrapping is a unique wrapping technique that is suitable for packaging flat products. This is unlike the flow wrapping process that can accommodate goods of all shapes. At the same time, overwrapping can combine different packages into a single unit.

Therefore, if you are planning to seal objects with flat surfaces such as boxes or cartons, then going for an overwrapping machine is the best option.

What is a Stretch Wrapper?

It is a machine designed to wrap items or pallets using a stretch wrap. Remember, a stretch wrap is a film that perfectly bundles items together.

How Fast is the Flow Wrapping Process?

In most cases, the packaging speed depends on the machine type and configuration. On average, these machines can wrap between 50 to over 1500 items per minute. However, this varies depending on the machine’s production capacity.

For instance, most high-speed flow wrapping machines can package over 1000 items per minute.

At SaintyCo, we have many flow wrapping equipment designed to meet your unique packaging requirements. We can customize every machine to meet your unique requirements.

Among our top-sellingmachinesarechocolate coin-wrapping machines, lollipop-wrapping machines, candy-wrapping machines, and chocolate-wrapping machines.

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