Thermoforming Packaging Machine

Thermoforming packaging machine is one of the most favorite packing equipment by worldwide food producers. The flexible packaging mechanism gives thermoforming packaging machine the ability to fullfill various needs of packaging types and sizes. With the use of top sealing film/ bottom forming film, and tailor designed moulds, you can always enjoy the benefits of thermoforming packaging machines in food packaging, which include: Customize container shapes, Various packaging types, Different packaging sizes, Very fast packaging speed, Lower labor cost, Hygienic food processing, etc.

Main Packaging Types

thermoforming vacuum packing machine
Flexible Film Packaging

Package material: Flexible plastic sheet or Aluminum foil for forming and sealing
Functions: Vacuum packaging; Gas flushing packaging; Seal only

sandwich packaging machine
Rigid Film MAP Packaging

Package material: Rigid plastic sheet for tray forming, flexible plastic sheet for tray sealing
Function: Tray MAP packaging; Tray vacuum packaging; Tray sealing only

thermoforming skin packaging machine
Rigid Film VSP Packaging

Package material: Rigid plastic sheet for tray forming, special flexible plastic VSP film for tray sealing
Function: VSP vacuum skin packaging

The thermoforming packaging machine is noted for its features of multi-function and convenience in the packaging of food and non-food products.
In the worldwide market, there are thousands of thermoforming packaging machines sold and delivered every year, Multivac, the leading manufacturer globally of thermoforming packaging machines claims they deliver over 1000 sets of thermoformers every year.
Kangbeite Food Packaging Machinery Co., Ltd. has been devoting to the thermoforming packaging machine industry since the year 2011. Today we have the ability to supply over 300+ sets of this type of packaging machines to the worldwide market. No matter you are launching a new project, or seeking to find alternative same quality thermoforming packaging machines for expensive MULTIVAC, ULMA, don’t hesitate to contact us for a quick quotation.

Before you invest in a new thermoforming packaging machine, it’s always important to know the machine thoroughly. That’s exactly the intention of this guide – Give you a full overview of thermoforming packaging machines before making a decision.

What is a thermoforming packaging machine?

Thermoforming packaging machine is an automatic multi-function packing machine that packs food and non-food products in flexible or rigid packages. The machine uses two rolls of packaging material to complete the container forming, vacuum/MAP/VSP and sealing process. The packaging materials include all types of plastic thermoforming film (flexible film, rigid film), dialysis paper, etc.
Other names for thermoforming packaging machine: Rollstock packaging machine, roll stock machine, thermoforming packaging line, thermoforming machines for food packaging.

thermoforming packaging machine

A set of thermoforming packaging machine

What products can be packed by thermoforming packaging machine?

With a thermoforming packaging machine, you can pack a large variety of food and non-food products, such as:

  1. Meat products: Fresh meat, frozen meat, cured meat, sausages bulk package, sausage IVP package, salami, ham, bacon, beef, pork, burgers,  bison meat, ground pork meat, ground beef meat, meatballs, etc.
  2. Fish and seafood: Fresh fish, frozen fish, cured fish, salmon fillet, tilapia, shrimp, lobster, octopus, oyster, prawns, herring fish, smoked fish, fish roe, etc.
  3. Poultry products: Whole chicken, whole turkey, chicken thighs, quails, quail eggs, salted eggs, hard-boiled eggs, ground turkey meat, chicken meat, etc.
  4. Cheese and dairy products: Cheese ball, cheese portion, cheese slices, cheese wedges, cheddar cheese, hard cheese, soft cheese, sliced cheese, feta cheese, goat cheese, and so on.
  5. Bakery, pasta and ready meals: Self-heating meals, ready to eat meals, pizza, bread, fresh pasta, gnocchi, cakes, sandwich, toast, udon noodle, agnolotti, blinis, etc.
  6. Vegetables and fruits: Whole durian, durian pulps, Arabian dates, olives, baby leaf, carrots, chestnut, sweet corn cobs, microgreen salad, salad, pickles, potatoes, strawberry, blueberry, dried fruits, etc.
  7. More food products: Pet food, dog treats, dog food, cat food, rice brick pack, beans, etc.
  8. Non-food products: Medical products, medical masks, N95 masks, disposable masks, medical protective clothes, medical instruments, swabs, electric toothbrush head, facial masks, chemical products, hardware tools, electronic components, etc.

There are a lot more products that can be packed by thermoforming packaging machine are not in the above list, contact us to know if your product is available.

What types of packaging can be done by thermoforming packaging machine?

Thermoforming packaging machine is well-known to be multi-function, not only because a lot of products can be packed by the machine, but also a lot of packaging types can be done by it.

  1. Vacuum packaging in flexible film. One of the basic functions of thermoforming packaging line is vacuum packaging. This machine is often called thermoforming vacuum packaging machine.

    corn cobs vacuum packaging machine

    Corn cobs twin pack vacuum-packed by thermoforming packaging machine

  2. Sealing only in flexible/rigid plastic film and dialysis paper packages, no vacuum or gas flushing. This packaging is usually for medical products, such as medical masks, medical apparels, swabs, stool device collection tubes and saliva devices used in hospitals.
  3. MAP modified atmosphere packaging in flexible film. This is often used for protective purposes, to protect fragile products by filling air in the packages.
  4. MAP modified atmosphere packaging in rigid film. This type of packaging is usually for food products that requires longer shelf life by fill in mixed air of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen.
  5. VSP vacuum skin pack.

    skin pack machine

    Thermoforming packaging machine for skin pack

What types of plastic packaging materials can be used in a thermoforming packaging machine?

To determine the specifications of the plastic thermoforming film to be used for your product is a very complex process. Always contact the packaging film supplier for a professional suggestion.
There are quite a few factors that require your attention:

  1. Your product’s shape
  2. Your product’s size
  3. Your product’s storage environment (moisture, temperature)
  4. Packaging type: Vacuum packaging, MAP modified atmosphere packaging, VSP skin packaging

Generally speaking, a thermoforming packaging machine needs two rolls of film sheet, one roll as bottom forming film, another roll as top sealing film.
While the top sealing film is always thinner and flexible, the bottom forming film could be rigid or flexible.

thermoforming packaging machine rigid tray

An Example of Thermoformed Rigid Tray by Thermoforming Packaging Machine

Thermoforming film can be generally divided into two types: low-temperature film and high-temperature film.

(1) Low-temperature film

A. High barrier film

Top sealing film: (thickness range 70μm-100μm, EVOH not less than 5μm)

  1.  BOPET (BOPP, BOPA)/INK/EVOH co-extruded film
  2. Coextruded film with the same structure as the bottom film
  3. BOPET (BOPP, BOPA), EVOH co-extruded film
  4. BOPET (BOPP)/INK/PVDC11/PE
  5. PP, PVDC, PE co-extruded cast film

B. High barrier film

Bottom forming film: (Thickness range 100μm-280μm, EVOH layer thickness ratio is usually 8%-10%)

  1. PP/PA/EVOH/PA/PE blow down or casting
  2. PA/EVOH/PA/PE down blowing or casting
  3. CPP/PVDC20/PE
  4. PP, PVDC, PE co-extruded cast film (PVDC layer thickness ratio is 10%)

C. Medium barrier film

Top sealing film: (thickness range 70μm-100μm)

  1. PA/PE/PA/PE down blowing or casting (used when the nylon content is low, PA layer thickness ratio is 20%)
  2. BOPA/ink/PE (main structure) or BOPET/INK/EAE coextruded film

Bottom forming film:

PA/PE/PA/PE down blowing or casting (PA layer thickness ratio 20%-40%) or PP/PE/PA/PE

(2) High-temperature film

A. Middle barrier top-sealing film: (thickness range 70μm-100μm)

  1.      PP/PA/PP down blowing or casting PA content 20%-25% (usually replaced with composite structure, because the knife is easy to stick during packaging)
  2. BOPA/INK/RCPP or BOPET (BOPP)/PAP co-extruded film

B. Middle barrier bottom forming film: (thickness range 100μm-250μm)

PP/PA/PP or PA/PP/PA/PP down blowing or casting PA content 20%-40% (For example, for egg vacuum packaging PA content is 35%-40%)

C.High barrier

Top sealing film: (thickness range 70μm-100μm)

BOPP/INK/PVDC11/RCPP

Bottom Forming film

RCPP/PVDC20/SCPP

Besides plastic material, is there any other type of material that can be used for the machine?

Yes, there are another 2 types of material that can be used in thermoforming packaging machine,

Type 1: Aluminum foil rolls. Aluminum foil features higher intensity and barrier property.

Type 2: Dialyzing paper and plastic. This type of packaging material is specially designed and produced for medical instruments, such as bandages, gauzes, medical protective garments, medical gloves,  medical masks, N95 masks, swab sets, etc.
The top sealing film is TYVEK dialyzing paper, the bottom forming film is peelable PA/PP/PE film.It is suitable for sterilization methods such as ETO ethylene oxide, high temperature and humid heat steam, and gamma-ray irradiation.

Advantages of dialyzing paper and plastic packaging for medical instruments:

  1. Effectively block microorganisms/bacteria and maintain the sterility of medical device products.
  2. It has excellent adaptability to the sterilization methods of various medical accessories.
  3. The outer layer of the stretch film of medical accessories has good cleaning and peeling characteristics to ensure that the packaging is not polluted by air, the peeling strength is appropriate, there is no penetration, and the peeling is clean, to prevent fiber damage, foreign objects such as dust, and the chance of microbial intrusion. Reduce the shedding of particles, such as fibers, flakes, and dust.
  4. Excellent heat sealing effect, keep the sealing integrity, after the opening of the package opening, there should not be any resealability (ensure that the medical devices used are not contaminated)
  5. Excellent deep-drawing thermoforming effect, high transparency, make the product more beautiful and correctly identify the product (conforming to medical device laws and regulations, including the material with a transparent side, you can see the internal products).
  6. Good abrasion resistance and puncture resistance, suitable for the packaging needs of various medical devices.

medical devices packaging machine

Medical masks packed by thermoforming packaging machine in dialyzing paper and plastic material

What are the main components of thermoforming packaging machine?

A whole thermoforming packaging line is composed of 5 main parts:
1. Metal components:

  • The machine uses sturdy magnalium material as base and support frame, features lightweight, high stiffness, and non-deformation. The use of magnalium material ensures service life and packaging quality of thermoforming packaging machines for tens of years.
  • The whole surface of the machine is covered by high-quality food-grade SUS304 stainless steel, no corrosion, no contamination, completely comply to any regulation standards of safety and hygiene.

2. Pneumatic system: Powerful and steady pneumatic driven system is applied to thermoforming packaging machine:

  • Vacuum forming chamber. Each chamber is made of a top part and a bottom part, in every step the closing and opening of the two parts are driven by pneumatic power.
  • (Vacuum or MAP) sealing chamber.
  • Cutting system in some cases

3. Electric system: All the electric components are well orderly sorted in the electric cabinet.
4. PLC: KANGBEITE PACKAGING’s thermoforming packaging machine uses MITSUBISHI PLC.
5. Other accessories: Vacuum pump; Auto filling system; Printer; Metal detector; Radiation sterilization system, etc. The vacuum pump is a necessity of the machine, we use BUSCH vacuum pump of various size according to machine size; Auto filling system is optional according to your product’s specifications; Printer is optional; Metal detector is optional; Sterilization system and other accessories is also optional, please let me know if you need any of them.

thermoforming packaging machine

Overview of thermoforming packaging machine

What are the advantages of thermoforming packaging machine?

As one of the most immensely popular packaging machines, a nice quality thermoforming packaging machine owns some unbeatable advantages.

  1. Time saving: Compared to chamber vacuum packaging machines, thermoforming packaging machine is much more automatic to save a lot of time.
  2. Labor saving: You only need 2-3 operators to put your products in the thermoformed containers. In some cases that auto-filling is applied, an unmanned packaging line is totally possible.
  3. Multi-function: You can have both MAP packing+vacuum packing or VSP packing+vacuum packing on one machine.
  4. You can pack different sizes of packages on one machine
  5. You can pack different products on one machine
  6. Containers are formed and sealed in one machine, so you can use 1 film supplier who can offer the best packaging film specifications.
  7. Long service life: A good quality thermoforming packaging machine can serve more than 10 years without issues.

Are there shortcomings of thermoforming packaging machines?

There are some disadvantages of thermoforming packaging machines:

    1. Higher cost. Even the smallest thermoforming packaging machine will cost you around 40 thousand US dollars, which is a large burden to the small business owners.
    2. Professional operator needed. Unlike the small vacuum packaging machines, or MAP tray sealer machines, thermoforming packaging machine is much more complicated, so that you need experienced engineer personnel or team for daily maintenance and possible failure repair. Sometimes a very small mistake in operation may cause great trouble, which is why an engineer in factor is important.
    3. Although thermoforming packaging machine can pack so many products in various packaging types, there are still many other packaging types that it can’t do, for example, pillow pack, shrink pack, etc.
    4. Longer lead time. All thermoforming packaging machines have to be customized according to your product’s shape and size, so every machine is fully customized that will take 30-60 days. Meanwhile, most of the chamber vacuum packaging machines are standard size and we usually have them in stock, so that they are available for fast shipment.

How to buy thermoforming packaging machine?

To enjoy the experience of buying thermoforming packaging machine, there are a few essential steps to follow:

1) Determine your budget and find a reliable machine supplier:

There are thousands of packaging machines supplier in the world market, It’s easy to get lost amongst all the choices. Sometimes people don’t want to pay a lot of time to choose, so simply goes to Multivac, which is a smart decision, but not necessarily be perfect, because there are machines that are more cost-effective with close quality like KANGBEITE Packaging Machinery.

Some people go to the other extreme to pursuit the lowest price, which is a big mistake. A fancy machine from MULTIVAC can serve for almost 20 years, which is pretty cost-effective in the long run, a bad-quality cheap price thermoforming packaging machine serves only a few years which makes your cost actually very high, not to mention the time you lose in case of frequent downtime.

2) Let the machine supplier know your product details:
      1. What is your product to pack
      2. What is the shape of your product
      3. What is the size of your product
      4. How do you process your product before packaging
      5. How is your product stored after packaging
      6. What auxiliary equipment do you need: Printer? Auto-filling equipment? Labeling machine? Metal detector? Sterilization equipment? Anything else?
      7. If possible, send some product samples to the machine supplier
3) Discuss payment and shipping terms with the packaging machine manufacturer.

In domestic purchasing, everything is simpler. But in international purchasing, it’s more complicated. Most importantly, you need a longer-term plan, because the lead time of a set of thermoforming packaging machine is 25-60 days, and international shipping takes a longer time. Kangbeite Packaging Machinery had a transaction with a customer in Boston, USA in July 2020, it took 35 days to produce the packaging machine, and another 30+ days for shipping.

4) Help the thermoforming packaging machine factory design the molds/toolings

A well designed high-quality mold determines the appearance and quality of the final packages. Mold design is also important for your thermoforming film supplier.

5) Select packaging material and find a thermoforming film supplier

There are a lot of plastic (HDPE, LDPE, PP, PET, Styrofoam – polystyrene are the most common) types which can be thermoformed for food packaging, and within each individual type of plastic compound manufacturers will provide their own compounds and material mechanical specifications. Knowing that the right material is being selected and that the material will be available cost-competitively at acceptable quality for the design life of the packaging line is vital. Switching packaging materials in a thermoforming packaging line can introduce seemingly invisible variables that can impact production rates, downtime rates and product quality.

As we’ve mentioned above, the thermoforming film supplier will need drawing of the mold design to determine the packaging film’s width and position of color marks in the film.

How to use a thermoforming packaging machine

The use of the thermoforming packaging machine includes the following aspects: Preparation and Installation; Daily use; Maintenance; Troubleshooting.

Preparation and installation of thermoforming packaging machine

      1. Prepare facilities for water, electricity, and compressed air.
      2. Industrial grade power supply is necessary. We fully customize the machine electric system in accordance with your local standard. Ground wire is a must.
      3. Compressed air: Intensity 0.6Mpa and up; airflow 1 m3/minute and up; Distance from the air source to packaging machine less than 6 meters; Enlarged pipe and moisture separator shall be applied if the distance is longer than 6 meters.
      4. Clean running water for cooling
      5. Install the machine at 100% flat ground
      6. Recheck machine safety facilities, screws, electrics before START.
      7. The thermoforming packaging machine is assembled well and delivered as a whole ready-to-work machine. All you need to do is unload the machine and put it in the right place.
      8. Do the connections: Connect the machine to electricity, water, compressed air, safely and correctly.
      9. After the first start, check the phase sequence indicator to ensure 100% correct phase sequence.

Maintenance of thermoforming packaging machine

Machine maintenance is important to keep best packing quality and prolong machine’s service life.

1) Working environment temperature -10℃- 60℃, humidity less than 85%, no hazard air around, no dust, no explosive articles.

2) Check vacuum pump oil level, keep it at 2/3-3/4 of the oil window. Always use vacuum pump special oil.

3) Change vacuum pump oil immediately if it turns black or milk white, or find water drops in oil, or viscosity increases. Ordinarily, change vacuum pump oil every 1500-2000 working hours.

4) Change vacuum pump oil: Let the vacuum pump run for 15-30 minutes to rise its temperature, then stop and cut off main power. Release the used oil completely before refilling.

5) Clean magnetic valves every 2-3 months:

  1. Cut off the main power, take off magnetic valves
  2. Disassemble magnetic valves, wash every part (valve seat, circuits, valve body, valve element, springs) in gasoline or kerosene.
  3. Wipe dry every part before reassembling (apply some lubrication oil to valve element)
  4. Power on and test. If the valve vibrates drastically or makes noises, take the valve off and reassemble correctly.

6) Apply lubrication oil to connecting rod bearings, spring hook points, wheel swivel bearings, etc every 30 days.

7) Keep the machine and components clean, especially the heating bar, silicone strips.

8) In the movement of the machine, keep it steady, no collision, no upside down.

9) Always have professional electricians to fix any issues.

Troubleshooting

WhatWhyHow
Machine doesn’t work after chamber covered the beltVacuum pump not working or motor reversesExchange any 2 phase lines
Travel switch not connectedAdjust switch picks
Power outlet not correctly connectedCheck and reconnect
Power supply under voltageChange power supply
Air evacuate time (vacuum time) set to 0Reset vacuum time
Broken circuit terminalReplace
Broken contactorRepair or replace
Chamber lid or working plate deformedRepair
Pneumatic valve not openFix or replace
Magnetic valve for pneumatic valve not workCheck wire or replace magnetic valve
Power light doesn’t workBroken power switchReplace
Broken power lightReplace
Broken wire or connectionReplace
Vacuum pump running but no vacuumLoose chamber lidPress chamber lid harder
Motor reverseExchange position of phase lines
Blocked air circuit or severe air leakingCheck air circuit and connectors and fix
Broken magnetic valveRepair or replace
Vacuum pump lack oilFill vacuum pump oil
Bad vacuum degreeAir leakingCheck circuits, connectors, vacuum pump, vacuum degree, magnetic valves
Vacuum meter not accurateReplace
Gasket in pressurizing valve fall offDisassemble pressurizing valve restore gasket
Vacuum pump oil quality and quantityRefill or replace
Air cylinder of pneumatic valve leak airFix or replace
Phase lossWire and connectorsReplace
Broken A.C. contactor touch spotReplace A.C. contactor
Broken section disconnecting switchReplace
Power supply phase lossConsult local power supply bureau
Electric elements overload frequentlyVacuum pump oil viscosity too highReplace
Motor reverseExchange position of phase lines
Environment temperature too lowRun without loading for a few cycles
Vacuum pump oil excessAdjust to standard oil level range
Vacuum pump exhaust gas filter blockedReplace filter or filter element
Short circuit pointsCheck and fix
Instable voltageFix main power supply
Air leakingPipes agingReplace
Gas circuit fittings looseFix
Sealing washer brokenReplace
Magnetic valve leakingRepair or replace
Vacuum pump leakingRepair or replace
Vacuum meter leakingReplace
Broken air bagReplace
Vacuum pump won’t stopA.C. contactor no resettingFix or replace
Broken time relayFix or replace
Travel switch no resettingReplace
No heatingBroken heating barReplace
Broken heating wireReplace
Broken range switchReplace
Broken time relayFix or replace
Broken heater transformerFix or replace
Circuit loose or fallen offCheck and reconnect
Broken heater relayReplace
Upwarp bag opening press bar cause short circuitFix
Heating won’t stopHeater contactor no resetReplace
Broken heater relayReplace
No pressure when sealingBroken pressurizing valveFix or replace
Short circuitFix
Broken air bagReplace
Too much space between sealing bar and silicone stripAdjust Phenolic Foam Board or silicone strip
Inflating pipe blockedFix
Sealing wrinklesMisplaced heating barFix
Misplaced silicone stripFix
Dirty sealing areaKeep it clean
Too much space between sealing bar and silicone stripAdjust space between heating bar and silicone strip to 7-9mm
Heating temperature and timeReset
Isolation fabric wrinklesKeep it flat
Isolation fabric adhere to bagsReplace isolation fabric
Sparks when sealingHeater power wire misplacedAdjust wiring terminal
Sealing wire short circuitClean sealing wire
Upward bag opening press barFix
No air deflatingBroken deflation valveFix or replace
Broken time relayFix or replace
Deflation valve wire brokenFix
Blocked air circuitClean
Broken travel switchFix or replace
NoisesLoose magnetic valveFix (consider voltage)
Loose A.C. contactorFix or replace
Broken vacuum pump couplerReplace coupler
Blocked or broken exhaust gas filterClean (gasoline/kerosene) or replace filter
Belt brake not workingBroken rectifierReplace

If you have any further questions for thermoforming packaging machines, please don’t hesitate to contact KANGBEITE PACKAGING for a quick answer.