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What is a flow wrapping machine?
Flow wrap machines are at the heart of the flow wrapping process. Packaging by horizontal flow wrappers is an operation in which a high volume of small products proceed down a production line on a conveyor. The flow wrap packaging machine wraps them individually in transparent or highly-decorated plastic or metallized film before they are placed in multi-product form fill packages for sale. This is a very high-speed operation.
This is a process most often used for candies, baked goods and health products such as granola bars. Since they will be separated from their master package for consumption, it’s essential that both brand identity and required coding be part of each unit product. While it is possible to apply codes such as “best by” dates after flow wrapping, it is much more practical to apply codes and any variable brand information to the film before it enters the flow wrapper. This helps ensure better quality printing and more readable codes.
A wide range of printers can be used to mark flow wrap films, including thermal inkjet, continuous inkjet, thermal transfer overprinting and laser marking systems. Each has capabilities that match the demands of different flow wrap situations.
Thermal transfer overprinters operate at very high speeds, printing clear codes on glossy plastic and metallized films. They can print characters up to 12.7mm tall at speeds of up to 100 meters per minute.
Continuous inkjet printers meet the need of flow wrapping, including printing required codes either before or after packaging. Printers that use cartridge ink supplies, such as Videojet’s Smart CartridgeÔ fluid system, virtually eliminate waste and mess that can damage the brand image of the packaged product.
Thermal inkjet printing produces high-resolution codes on plastic substrates when using solvent-based inks. These systems can print dates and numeric codes as well as linear and 2D bar codes.
Laser marking systems use no inks or solvents, eliminating completely the possibility of such products affecting product integrity during printing. They are ideal for printing on pre-printed polypropylene film on which large printing fields are available, preventing burn-through. Videojet has several solutions for flow wrapping applications regardless of production line speeds. Packaging equipment innovation is increasing flow-wrapping speeds. Take advantage of this high throughput/enhanced profitability capability with Videojet. We’re matching our innovation with coding options that ensure your entire message appears clearly, in the right product space, and keeps your line at peak performance.