A powder filler is a standalone equipment for dispensing powder into premade carriers such as cans, bottles, pouches, etc.
Implying, if you want to package powder, then you’ll definitely need powder filling machine.
Today’s guide will analyze all the vital aspects of powder filling machine, from basic to advanced concepts.
Let’s get started.
- Types of Powders to Use in Powder Fillers
- Powder Filling Technologies in the Industry
- Parts/ Components of Dry Powder Filling Machine
- Classification of Powder Filling Machines
- Buying Best Filling Equipment for Powders & Dry Products
- Uses of Powder Filling Machine
- Quality Compliance for Powder Filling Machine
Types of Powders to Use in Powder Fillers
Whether in the pharmaceutical industry, food industry, beverage industry, or chemical industry, you will package powder at some point.
Therefore, it is important to know the characteristics of powder material you would like to package.
This way, you will choose an appropriate packaging container and powder filling machine.
Powders are fine particles which are as a result of disintegration, crushing or grinding the solid substance.
They may contain a reasonable amount of air and moisture.
In industrial setups, you may fill powder as:
- Raw materials
- Intermediate product from a process
- The final product of a process
Therefore, during the filling process, you will choose a packaging container depending on these three fundamental aspects.
Moreover, you should understand powder characteristics before choosing a suitable powder filling machine.
These essential characteristics include:
They can be very fine, fine, moderately coarse, coarse, or very coarse
These include cohesive strength, frictional properties, bulk density, permeability, flow rate, sliding at impact points, segregation tendency and angle of repose, among other aspects.
Once you understand all these, it will be easier to choose a powder formulation, with the right properties.
With this information, you can easily optimize the powder filling process.
Powder Filling Technologies in the Industry
Syrup powder filling machine
Some of the innovative technologies in the powder filling industry can be classified based on the following:
I. Using Tooling and Drives in Powder Filling
You have to decide on the kind of tools and drives you want to incorporate into your equipment.
Note that your selection of the devices should depend on their suitability with your machine.
Here is what this implies – If you use any auger powder filling machine, then the auger and the tube dimensions vary depending on:
i. Weight of the fill
ii. Level of accuracy
iii. Rate of dosing
iv. Characteristics of products
v. Container necks
The above factors aren’t only limited to the auger filler but also other types of filling equipment.
Whenever you select any tools or drives for your machine, you must take into account all the above factors.
Let’s put the above issues into the concept.
· Weight of the Fill
Consider this scenario, a small dosing system ( auger and funnel) is only capable of filling the little number of powders at a slow rate; however, with extreme accuracy.
On the other hand, a more extensive system handles bulky powder at faster rates though inconsistently.
So what is the best option?
If you’re going to deal with the only limited weight of products, you may go for a small-sized dosing system.
However, the converse isn’t always right for bulky products.
It’s recommended to incorporate several sets of tools ( dosing system) when dealing with a variety of fill weights.
In this way, you achieve both accuracy and speed.
· Container Necks
Always consider the size of the container that holds the powder products.
Under all circumstances, the container mouth should be as close to the funnel as possible.
Bottleneck for powder filling
Thus, you need to fix the funnel very close to the container top.
In this manner, you achieve a clean fill and a high degree of accuracy.
Characteristics of the Powder Products
Powders have got distinct and unique physical properties, some are free-flowing while others are non-free flow, yet others may be semi-free flowing.
Non-free flowing products would require the use of a large auger that can quickly push all the trapped powder downwards through the funnel.
Besides, you can regulate the agitation mode in a way that it rapidly pauses between the fills to prevent the powder from being overworked and compacted.
In cases whereby the powder is filled with air as it trickles down into the hopper, change the agitation mode so that it continuously run to expel the air.
Ultimately, a bigger hopper aids in de-aerating and homogenizing the powder by making it undergo a more significant agitation, consequently leading to longer residence time.
Powder flowing through the machine
Elsewhere, semi-free flowing powders such as instant coffee powder which are fragile might be damaged if the hopper section has got a larger auger with over-flights.
So to effectively deal with such products, use an auger with parallel flights.
Apart from that, a semi-free flowing powder might bounce even after the auger stops.
For such cases, here is what you have to do; initiate a little back pressure to retain the products in the funnel by fixing a ‘washer’ beneath the auger.
Lastly, for the free-flowing powders like table salt or granulated sugar, you will require a means of stopping the powder flow.
And the widely recommended method is; use of a spinner disc which involves the incorporation of a saucer-like a disc attached at the end of the protruding auger, to retain the product from flowing.
II. Gravimetric Powder Filling Technology
The actual reason for the introduction of the gravimetric powder filling technique is to achieve a precise filling technology based on the weight.
First, this technique only applies to a fill-by-weight filler.
Now, why would you select such type of machine?
Here are the fundamental five problems often associated with a piece of non-fill-by-weight equipment:
i. The discrepancy of tare weight
ii. Variability of product density
ii. Compromise of critical fill weight
iv. Occasional occurrence of variation of the exact fill weight
If you want to solve the above situations, then you should go for fill by weight machine.
Besides, the filling equipment usually incorporates load cells or balances.
Though these machines are of a wide variety of configurations, they all make use of three primary ways of regulating the fill weight, ie.
Setpoint, bulk, and dribble, bulk, and feedforward.
Bottle powder filling
· Setpoint / Dynamic Weighing
In this mode, the auger operates at a uniform speed while the load cell weighs the ongoing fill weight.
Filling of the powder, however, stops whenever the earlier setpoint weight reaches.
Lastly, the subsequent fill weight should be an initial setpoint weight in addition to any inflight material component.
· Bulk and Dribble / Dynamic Weighing
Here, the auger operates at extreme speed for the majority of the fill, then it decelerates to a dribble speed for the remainder of the fill.
Again, the load cell monitors the ongoing fill weight and transmits a signal to initiate the dribble fill to halt.
· Bulk and Feedforward (Static Weighing)
Likewise, for this mode, the auger runs at extreme speeds for a large portion of the fill though it comes to a stand just close to reaching the projected fill weight.
Unlike the other modes, for this case, the load cell records a static weight while it calculates and converts the top-up fill into a volumetric phase.
Even though this mode applies a volumetric top-up fill, still, it achieves a general accuracy of ±0.2 %.
With those three operational modes, it’s possible to customize the machine dosing system.
The most common configurations being:
- Single head gravimetric
- Dual head, volumetric bulk fill with a gravimetric top-up.
- Dual head, bulk and predict
Moving onto the next technological aspect.
III. Volumetric Filling
Volumetric filling focusses on the capacity of the fill.
Meaning, the number of revolutions of the auger, for example, is directly proportional to the quantity of fill in a container.
This principle applies to either a single or multiple augers, similarly whether you’re working with a semi- or fully automatic machines.
Powder loading device
To optimize the functions of the volumetric filling equipment, you may link it up to a weigh cell.
- The weigh-cell efficiently records and displays the weight of the fill
- It rejects unnecessary (excessive/ minimal) weights
- It compensates for any trend changes in the density of the fill.
Now with the kind of data established by the weigh-cell, the PLC automatically relays it back to the filling head.
It initiates a suitable action either by increasing or decreasing the rate of auger revolutions.
Even with a semi or fully automatic fillers, you may still experience some slight degree of error.
It essential when handling some little weight such as those of oral dry suspensions into bottles.
However, if you require absolutely no error in weights, then you have to make two modifications.
Fix your volumetric filler with tare and gross weighing devices.
So that you would use two weigh cells.
The first one to weigh the non-filled bottle while the other one to weigh the full bottle.
Eventually, when you want to calculate the net weight, you subtract the tare weight from the gross weight.
Those three technological trends should be capable of improving your powder filling experience.
Let’s move on.
Parts/ Components of Dry Powder Filling Machine
Powder filling machines have hundreds of parts depending on the model and design of the equipment.
Some of the most common parts of dry powder filling equipment include:
Can powder filler
- Filling motor – it regulates the rate of revolutions of the filling jar, thus controlling the capacity of the powder packages.
- Mixing Motor – controls the intensity of operation of the blenders in blending the powder.
- Mainframe heads – provides an outer protective cover against any likely mechanical damage.
- Level Detector – this is a device that determines the level of the powder that fills into the packages.
- They are of two types, ie. Continuous level detector and point level detectors.
- Feeding Port – provides a passage for the powder products.
- It’s material of food type stainless steel 304.
- Hopper – also makes up the dosing system.
- Stainless steel 304.
- Filling spout – another component of the dosing system.
- SS 304.
- Worktable – this a platform for placing the already filled containers.
- Electric scale – for automatically weighing the filled or empty packages.
- Overflow collector – trough that temporarily holds the spilled powder products from the fill.
- Control box – this is a locker that accommodates all the power and controller buttons together with plugins.
- Pedestal – provides a firm mechanical support structure for steadily positioning the whole equipment.
Classification of Powder Filling Machines
In case you want to venture into a new powder filling machine, you can choose from any of the following:
Can powder filling machine
Single Head Powder Filling Machine
A unique type of machinery due to its ability to undertake all the filling operations via a single filling head.
Besides, it precisely fills almost all types of powders (free-flowing and non- free-flowing) into packages.
Moreover, they are available in both semi-automatic and fully automatic operation
Benefits of Single Head Powder Filling Machine
Though it operates via a single head, it boasts of the following:
- High productivity rate.
- High accuracy of filling.
- Easy to operate
- Decreased cost of production.
- Smooth changeover due to minimum change parts.
Limitations of Single Head Powder Filling Machine
- It fills bulky products slowly.
Working Principle of Single Head Powder Filling Machine
The whole feeding process relies on two main motors, i.e. the filling motor and the mixing motor.
These two drives rotate the mixing vessels, i.e. blenders and agitation blades in the filling head, thereby homogenizing and de-aerating the powder.
Once the powder reaches down through the funnel, then a combination of sensors precisely level detectors regulates the flow and filling of the powder into the packages.
The outstanding feature here is filling the powder products by a single head; though it might be slow, it’s economical in terms of the initial investment.
Double Head Powder Filling Machine
Unlike the single head, this model has two filling heads.
Therefore, it’s capable of handling filling of bulky powder compared to the previous one.
It also fills both free-flowing and non-free flowing powders.
Powder in a can
Benefits of Double Head Powder Filling Machine
- Operates at a fast rate, can handle several fills per minute.
- Can fill a wide range of capacities without any cause for change parts.
- It lowers the cost of production.
- Can fill bulk powders.
Limitations of Double Head Powder Filling Machine
- May occasionally suffer from inconsistent tare weights.
- Quite slow compared to augers and net weight fillers.
- Various inaccurate fill weights.
Working Principle of Double Head Powder Filling Machine
The double head filler works almost the same to the single head fillers.
The only significant difference comes in the number of filling heads.
Such that, with the double head filler, you can fill your applications faster through the two heads.
With the double head filler, you can fill relatively heavy fills compared to the single head filler.
Besides, the work rate is higher.
Vacuum Powder Filling Machines
The vacuum powder fillers fill packages, including containers with almost all kinds of powder without the use of an auger and agitator.
Thus it means that the powder product doesn’t undergo any breakdown or agglomeration.
Powder filling line
Benefits of Vacuum Powder Filling Machines
- The powder breakdown is little, and thus, it preserves the product integrity.
- It produces little or no dust.
- It’s available in semi-automatic and fully automatic options.
- Fills and handles the product gently.
- Can handle and fill free flow and non-free-flow powder
- It is easy to clean and allows rapid changeover of parts.
Limitation of Vacuum Powder Filling Machines
- It isn’t recommendable for filling powder granules that require some breakdown.
Working Principle of Vacuum Powder Filling Machines
Since the vacuum filler has no auger, the fed powder directly flows into the funnel from where it trickles down into the containers.
A combination of level detectors, weigh-cell all controls and enhances the filling process.
Most producers often prefer using vacuum filling equipment whenever they’re dealing with
powders that don’t require any further breakdown.
Net Weight Filling Machine
Net weight filling equipment is distinct from other types because it’s the only equipment that weighs the powder before dispensing it into the packages.
Therefore, this machinery makes use of a check weigher and a weigh cell just down the filling line.
Advantages of Net Weight Filling Machine
- It produces exact fill weights.
- It handles the product gently with little or no compression.
- It’s capable of handling irregular shapes, sizes, and weights of the products and packages.
- The machine can be customized into one with several vibratory trays and dribble feed gates.
- Adaptable for counting uniform products like tablets, capsules, etc.
Disadvantages of Net Weight Filling Machine
- Quite slow during operation as compared to augers and cup fillers.
- However, with the introduction of the IQ series, issues seem different.
- It produces a lot of dust whenever filling fine powders such as flour, talcs, etc.
Working Principle of Net Weight Filling Machine
In the machine, the powder products move from the hopper through the vibratory trays or belts.
However, note that the entry of the powder via the plates or belts depends on the type of product.
After that, the powder continuous straight into the bucket fixed with a load cell.
Just before, the bucket weight nears the target weight; the feeding system slows to a dribble feed speed.
In cases whereby you require very accurate results, then you may add a second tray or belt specifically for the dribble feed.
The dribble feed eventually turns off when the final weight reaches.
At that point, the machine would be ready to release its contents through a trap door down into the package.
Auger Filling Machine
Auger fillers are quite popular in the filling industry.
It consists of a hopper, stirring bar and an auger inside the filling cylinder.
As opposed to the net weight filler, the auger fillers are volumetric, ie.
They don’t weigh the powder.
Though weighing may be possible if it’s fitted with a weigh scale, but still, the result will depend on the precise rate of revolutions of the auger.
Advantages of Auger Filling Machine
- Most suitable for filling all the fine powders, eg. Flour, cake mixes, talcum powders, etc.
- Extremely fast.
- It doesn’t emit much dust. The auger fillers are customizable to include dust collectors or have an enclosed surface.
- Can handle both free-flowing and some non-free flowing powders so long as the particles are uniform.
- You can use it together with numerous ranges of packaging applications including form and fill machinery, other applications for containers, or bottles.
- It has a wide variety of filling capacity without the need for changeover of parts.
Disadvantages of Auger Filling Machine
- It may interfere with product integrity, especially those that are easy to break down.
- Somehow handles the products roughly.
- It doesn’t accurately fill irregular shaped products.
Working principle of Auger Filling Machine
The filling motor drives the auger at a uniform speed to push the products out of the tube.
In the meantime, the mixing motor also rotates the stirring bar which has agitation bar attached in a counter-clockwise direction to that of the auger.
The bar together with the blade de-aerate and homogenizes the powder.
Additionally, the agitation blades ensure the consistent filling of the auger flights.
The powder continually trickles down into the funnel via a trap door and finally fills into a ready container.
Undoubtedly, auger filler is a piece of versatile filling equipment.
Apart from filling all kinds of powders, it is applicable in almost all industrial sectors, including food, chemical, pharmaceutical industries etc.
Also known as pocket fillers, they also belong to the volumetric filling equipment.
Furthermore, they are suitable for filling free-flowing powders such as nuts, coarse powders and granules.
Above all, it is the best for canning peas, corn, beans etc.
Cup fillers are available in both in-line and rotary styles.
Advantages of Cup Fillers
- It handles any free-flowing powders.
- Capable of filling up to hundreds of containers every minute.
- Simple and compressed structure minimizes mechanical damages.
- Quite affordable compared to other filling equipment.
Limitations of Cup Fillers
- Not suitable for running non-free flowing products.
- It doesn’t handle irregular shapes or sized products.
- Only handles few fills without change over parts.
Working Principle of Cup Fillers
Can powder filler
Cup fillers make use of a measuring cup.
Now, the hopper located just above the cup enables the product flows into the cup using gravity.
When filled, a combination of wipers passes over the top of the cup to level the product in it while expelling the excess powder.
Then the product transitions into the discharge port from where it falls via the cup bottom straight into the product package.
Take note that even though cup fillers employs the volumetric filling technique, they still can achieve more production rates to that of the auger and net weight fillers.
Vertical Form Fill Sealing Machine
The VFFS is unique filling equipment as to the other conventional machinery.
Though it’s one equipment, it performs three functions.
It forms packaging bags from a flat film roll of plastic, while also filling the bags with the products and simultaneously sealing the filled containers.
Not only does it fills powders, but it also packages solid products.
Benefits of Vertical Form Fill Sealing Machine
- It handles all kinds of a fine powder, both free or non-free flowing.
- High productivity.
- Cost-effective production
- It is compact in design hence attributes to better ergonomics, powder conserving filling and saves space.
- It employs the use of maintenance-free servo tech.
- It is thus ensuring reliable production.
Limitation of Vertical Form Fill Sealing Machine
It’s relatively expensive compared to cup fillers and auger fillers.
Working Principle of Vertical Form Fill Sealing Machine
The film enters into the forming tube where the flat plastic film gets formed into a bag.
The process is usually known as the bagging process.
It involves a series of sealing and creating.
After that, the packet transits into the filling chamber.
Here, the product can either be pre-measured by multiple head weighing system or the sealed tube end lowers onto a weighing table.
With the help of the sensors, the product trickles down into the bag via the tube.
Once the powder-filled bag reaches the gross weight, filling halts, the horizontal sealing bar then seals the top of the bag, thereby making the bottom part of the succeeding bag above.
Eventually, the blades cut off the bag from the tube, making it now a completely sealed package.
Another auxiliary process may follow onwards.
Now, you see the reason why VFFS is a complete filling and sealing machine.
Everything happens within a single production line.
Aside from the above classifications, it’s possible as well to group the filing equipment into three broad distinct classes:
- Manual powder filling machine
- Semi-automatic powder filling machine
- Fully automatic powder filling
Manual Powder Filling Machine
Being manual, it means you don’t get to benefit from relentless and selfless operations.
You thus must be alert and always participate in the filling process.
For example, you will take over the gross weighing of the filled products, stop and restart the machine, determine the exact quantity of the fill, among others.
Semi-automatic Powder Filling Machine
Such kinds of fillers are often closely related to fully automatic ones, no wonder with little modifications, you can easily upgrade it.
The machinery may have a single control or PLC, so that it may perform the automatic quantitative, filling, adjustment of measurement errors and much more.
However, this doesn’t qualify it to be automated.
Full Automatic Powder Filler
This equipment makes use of the recent technology; it’s more concise, robust and more reasonable.
Most of its operations occur automatically, e.g., material feeding into the tank, measuring and filling then happen.
Above all, it’s suitable for filling both powder and granules.
Therefore, you get the ease of operation with such kind of machinery.
In our next chapter, we shall focus on what you need to consider before buying machinery.
Buying Best Filling Equipment for Powders & Dry Products
Let’s now look at the issues you need to focus on before making a quotation for a new powder filling machine:
Fig Hopper powder filling machine
Without doubt, you would require a kind of machine that’s easy and simple to control.
Therefore, a digital PLC, together with a suitable HMI, will serve you right.
Furthermore, it’s user-friendly.
Type of Machine
You may opt for a semi-automatic or a fully automatic one.
These two class of devices run efficiently.
Besides, they aren’t stressful to operate; you only need to make the right inputs.
Speed of Filling
Always look for a machine that has a considerable rate of output.
Assess your demands and look for suitable machinery.
The motor provides the adequate thrust required by the rotating elements.
The various options available for the motor system include servo motor, stepper motor, vacuum suction, VFD and electric motors.
Still, the servo system is the most popular.
Several options available here too but importantly, a rust or corrosive resistant structure is necessary.
Specifically, an all-stainless steel 304, including the powder contact parts, is advisable.
Detectors/ Sensors/ Timers/ Fill Control
Combination of this equipment is necessary since they make the filling process accurate as possible.
Filling doctors enable precise filling, while the timers make track of the operation.
Filling Error and Accuracy
Though no equipment is entirely flawless, you must ensure that you acquire one with a reasonable degree of faults.
In fact, some machinery suffers from less than 1 % filling error.
Again, always, think about your size of the material before considering a suitable hopper volume.
For bulky products, you would similarly need a large hopper and vice-versa.
This parameter solely depends on your filled packages or container.
So, choose flexible equipment that can handle a wide variety of fill masses.
Most machinery fills up to a min. of 1 gram.
Uses of Powder Filling Machine
Powder fillers serve numerous purposes in different industrial sectors depending on the type of application attached to it.
The bottom line, you can always use it to fill any powder product.
Have a look.
i. Pharmaceutical Industry
The powder fillers, accurately fill the powdered medicines and drugs in the several packages, whether in glass bottles or sachets.
ii. Veterinary Industry
Most veterinary medications come in powder form, which is readily soluble in the animal’s drinking water.
Filling of such drugs is optimizable by the powder fillers.
iii. Food and Beverage Sector
Coffee powders, carbonate, powdered sugar, fine flour, powdered spices, milk powder etc. are some of the often packed products by the fillers.
iv. Chemical Industry
Powdered chemicals, both reactive and mild, can get filled by the fillers.
v. Cosmetics Industry
Some of the products involved here include baby powders, cosmetic detergents.
vi. House Care
Products here include powdered detergents etc.
Powdered organic and inorganic fertilizers are packaged using powder filling machine.
Quality Compliance for Powder Filling Machine
Together with the essential features, you also need to be aware of the level of quality of your device.
The only way to be sure of its integrity is to verify the quality compliance standards.
Auger filling machine
Now, to help you ascertain the quality, always check out for this standardization compliance
- ISO/TC 313 – sets international standards for both packaging and filling systems.
- CE Mark- indicates the compliance by the machine to health, environmental and safety standards.
- RoHS – Restriction of Hazardous Substance (ROHS) gives a guideline for the use if restricted specific dangerous material components present in electrical and electronic devices such as the filler.
- cGMP – regulation that specifies the minimum requirements for adherence by the manufacturing process aimed at guaranteeing the safety of users of the equipment.
- CCC Mark- Mandatory mark indicating safety compliance by the manufacturers for all the products sold, used or imported in China.
- FDA Compliance – This certification checks for compliance of the machinery with the handling of the food and beverage products.
Please note that these certification standards vary from one region to another.
Acquiring an efficient and effective powder filling machine is a dream come true for all producers.
To help you pick such kind of equipment, you first need to take into account the consistency of your product applications.
After that, you may consider the best-automated device to benefit from accuracy and efficiency.
Lastly, you can’t forget about the output and manufacturing quality adherence.