The first step to ensuring success is reading the equipment manual to better understand the machine and any recommended settings from the manufacturer. By reading up on all the settings you’ll get familiar with the machine which makes it easier to ask the right questions. One of the first questions you’ll want to ask and answer is, “What are the critical seal parameters?”
To answer this question, you must first complete “dry runs” at different settings. This involves setting the seal equipment up at different parameters and creating some samples. You’ll want to thoroughly investigate how the samples perform by asking questions like:
- Is there full adhesive transfer?
- What does the seal look like?
- Is it too difficult to open?
- Does it peel apart too easily?
All these questions help you start to get to know the machine and understand how it performs when used to seal the selected packaging materials.
Next, you’ll begin process characterization using the information you learned from the manual and any dry runs you may have performed on the machine. To do this you will follow the ISO16775 Annex Q, Guidance on Establishing Process Parameters.
This guide will walk you through completing a range finding exercise, which involves evaluating a series of recipes beginning with low energy (usually low temp/low dwell) and walking up through high energy (high temp/high dwell).
After this is complete, you will then gather seal strength data following ASTM F88 and chart your results for visual graphs. From these results, you will determine the low and high parameters, or “process window”.
Finally, you will perform a confirmation run to build confidence in the recommended settings. Upon completing these activities your new piece of sealing equipment should have properly identified process parameters and be well on its way to the Operational Qualification!
Often this process can be lengthy and requires knowledge and the skill of professionals. Packaging Compliance Labs has been able to minimize this lead time for several clients with the help of our engineering team. To read more about a case study where we helped a client bring on a new sealer, CLICK HERE. Need help with bringing on new equipment? CONTACT US.