A combination of two successful concepts: the FFS filling concept for bulk commodities and woven tape fabric as a packaging material.On the other, there is woven tape fabric as a packaging material. Both offer important advantages in their respective fields of use. To combine these advantages and to make something happen that up to now seemed impossible, posed a unique challenge – and a compelling reason for the three companies Dow, Starlinger and Haver & Boecker, three companies to form an active cooperation and take a step into the future (Fig. 1).
The FFS (Form, Fill and Seal) technology is a fully automatic low cost packaging method for powders, resins, flakes and many other free-flowing goods. The concept: On the filling machine, a roll of tubular plastic material is formed into bags, which are filled immediately with the product and then sealed shut. The sealing jaws simultaneously weld the top of the bag already filled and the bottom of the following bag (Fig. 2). Due to the advantages of the FFS system for the value chain, FFS bags have by far the biggest market share – 63 % – of all plastic heavy duty shipping bags in Western Europe today (open mouth bags 30 %, valve bags 7 %).
Woven tape fabric is a packaging material made from stretched and woven plastic tapes. Since its introduction as a packaging material, tape fabric has come a long way. Formerly, woven tapes were only used for industrial packaging such as FIBCs or AD*STAR® cement bags; nowadays, however, coated tape fabric is a suitable alternative.
Processing woven tape fabric on Haver & Boecker FFS packaging lines
Until now, processing woven fabric on FFS packaging lines was not possible. Based on a wide range of expertise and a mutual desire to optimize existing possibilities and capture new markets, Dow, Starlinger and Haver & Boecker endeavoured to combine the advantages of the two successful concepts. For the first time it is now possible to process woven tape fabric, produced on Starlinger machinery using Dow resin, on Haver & Boecker FFS packaging lines. The innovation is aimed especially at filling companies in the chemical processing industries, as well as in the building materials and food industries. The “woven*FFS” technology provides a welcome opportunity to reduce energy and raw material consumption (Fig. 3) as well as costs in the bulk material packaging process.
Bags made of woven tape fabric are resistant to pressure, breaking and kinking and even when handled with a hook or damaged by a nail, they do not rip open and spill their valuable contents. Furthermore, woven tape fabric is very thin compared to currently used films, making it lightweight but durable and resulting in reduced material consumption. In addition, it is fully recyclable; thus, also the environment benefits from this new type of packaging. The great advantage of the FFS method is that it uses a sealing process for closing the bags – FFS machines require neither needles, which are prone to breaking, nor sewing thread, which has to be constantly replenished. As a result, there is no contamination of the filling material with thread ends, and the bags are hermetically sealed because there are no stitching holes.
During the extensive development work Dow, Starlinger and Haver & Boecker paid special attention to make the changeover from PE film to woven tape fabric as easy as possible for fillers. Customers with existing Haver & Boecker FFS lines do not have to undertake any major conversions. All it takes to make use of the benefits of woven tape fabric are slight modifications to the FFS system – and simply to use another type of tube roll. Companies, which until now were not able to use FFS filling machines because they have been processing woven fabric due to customer and market requirements, are also able to benefit from this fully automatic, low cost packaging concept. The investment for a new system is offset easily by the high production capacity and the reduction of operator and maintenance time/costs that these machines offer.