What is a container? A container is a receptacle that is used to hold, contain and store a product. Containers come in many sizes, shapes, forms and materials. In the packaging industry these include: bags, bottles, boxes, buckets, cans, cartons, cartridges, cases, cups, drums, jars, tubs, and tubes.
Wikipedia defines a container as this: A container is a basic tool, consisting of any device creating a partially or fully enclosed space that can be used to contain, store, and transport objects or materials. In commerce, it includes “any receptacle or enclosure for holding a product used in packaging and shipping.” Things kept inside of a container are protected by being inside of its structure. The term is most frequently applied to devices made from materials that are durable and at least partly rigid.
What is a cap? Caps are devices that are used to close off a container. A cap is also commonly referred to as closure or lid. Caps come in many forms: screw caps, snap caps, sports caps, lug caps, child safety caps, spouts, spray caps, and trigger spray caps and may require different types of capping machinery. Caps serve four purposes 1) To prevent product leakage 2) To prevent product contamination 3) To extend a product’s shelf life 4) To prevent tampering.
What is a capping machine? A capping machine is a piece of machinery that tightens or secures a cap onto a container. Some capping machines also apply the cap to the container before they are tightened.
What are some common search terms or keywords that are used for a capping machine? This question can generate quite a long list of keywords but here are the basic ones: capper, cappers, capping machine, capping machines, capping machinery, capping equipment, capping system, capping systems
What types of companies use capping machines and for what reasons? All companies that fill products into bottles, containers, or jars; require some method of closing the container and most frequently that closure is a cap.
Do capping systems come in different sizes and shapes? Yes, capping systems are available in a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate the many different sized and shaped containers and caps that are out there. The type of capping and the speeds the project requires can also determine the size and shape of the machine. Capping machines are available from small, slow speed, bench top or hand held, semi-automatic capping machines to large, high speed, fully automatic rotary capping systems.
Are there different types and/or classifications of capping machines? (If so, please detail each) Yes there are different types of capping machines. Accutek manufactures three different styles of capping systems: Chuck Cappers, Spindle Cappers and Snap Cappers. Our capping machinery is available from a single head hand held chuck capper from Accutek for low speed capping all the way up to a high speed 30 head rotary chuck capping system from Biner Ellison.
How much do they cost? (A range is fine, and mention what either end of the scale would actually cover) Capping systems from Accutek / Biner Ellison / Kiss Packaging Systems range in price from $695 for a semi-automatic Hand Held Chuck Capper (Accutek’s Accucapper LD) to $250,000 for a fully automatic high speed rotary chuck capping system (Biner Ellison RCC Rotary Chuck Capping System).
How significant are capping machines on the typical packaging line? Capping systems are an essential piece of most any bottle packaging line (bottling line).
What are some benefits that a company gains by using them? Capping machines help companies improve their production output, and increase efficiencies via accurate torque values. Capping machinery also reduces or eliminates labor fatigue, and it helps to prevent injuries.
What types of capping equipment do you provide? Accutek Packaging along with Kiss Packaging Systems and Biner Ellison provide capping machines for a wide range of applications and production volumes.
As for the types of equipment Accutek offers:
Semi-Auto Spindle Cap Tighteners
Automatic Spindle Cappers
Hand Held Chuck Cappers
Semi-Auto Bench Top Chuck Cappers
Semi-Auto Inline Chuck
Automatic Inline Chuck Cappers
High Speed Rotary Chuck Cappers (NEW Design)
Semi-Auto Inline Snap Cappers
Automatic Inline Snap Cappers
Semi-Auto Bench Top ROPP Cappers
Please describe how each type of machine works.
- What container types/sizes can be handled?
- What cap styles/diameters can be handled?
- What is involved with changeover to a different container? To a different cap?
- What is the maximum speed?
- What are the advantages/disadvantages of each type of capper?
- Do machines require a separate cap-handling/delivery mechanism? If so, how is it selected?
Spindle Cappers, sometimes referred to as Roller Screw Cappers, work by passing a bottle and its cap between a set of spinning spindles or discs that transmit their rotary motion to the cap causing it to turn in place. Spindle Capping machines can come in semi automatic tighteners that require a cap to be manually placed on a container or fully automatic capping systems that automatically place and torque caps onto containers. These types of machines can be used to cap nearly every shape and size of round lug or screw type cap, including one with odd tips or trigger tops. Semi-Auto and Automatic models are capable of significantly faster speeds, up to 200 CPM, then their inline chuck capping counter parts. Beyond those speeds a rotary chuck cappers would be the best solution.
- Accutek’s base model Spindle Tighteners (SASC Series Tighteners) and Cappers (ASC Series Cappers) can accommodate containers up to 7.5” in diameter. Base models can also handle a wide range of round, f-style, and oblong containers with little modifications, however most tapered or odd shaped containers can be capped with a belt upgrade.
- SASC and ASC machines can accept caps up to 120mm in diameter with little to no modifications. Some caps such as over caps and sport caps can sometime be accommodated with the base model. Other very unique or difficult to place closures such as those with skirts can usually be automatically place with optional specialized delivery systems.
- Depending on how different the containers and caps are will determine the complexity of the changeover. For most projects changeover is as simple as tuning a few dials and changing a couple parts.
Adjust the machine height to match the containers height. Adjust the container belts width and angle to the containers width and shape. Tighten or loosen the spindles to accommodate cap width and torque value. Finally replace the delivery systems change parts and adjust the cap delivery chute.
- As with most packaging equipment speeds are usually job dependant. The Accutek Automatic Spindle Cappers have a maximum output up to 200 CPM or 12,000 Containers Per Hour. Average speeds for a typical beverage container are usually within the 100-150 CPM range.
- Advantage – Spindle cappers are great for capping a wide variety of caps and sizes without having to do much to the machine. They are also relatively inexpensive for their output volume on standard cap types. Accutek’s spindle cappers utilize a direct drive spindle system that makes them far more reliable and easier to maintain then those that use chains and belts to move the spindles.
Limitation – Specialty caps can require additional costs to the delivery systems and be more difficult to initially setup.
- Spindle Tighteners like the Accutek SASC6 (Semi-Automatic Spindle Capper) do not have a delivery system for placing caps. However you can basically upgrade it to an Accutek ASC6 (Automatic Spindle Capper) by adding a centrifugal bowl feeder or a cap elevator/orientator. We build our machines to be as modular as possible so they can grow/adapt to a customers needs. Cap characteristics and desired speeds determine the type of delivery system.
Chuck cappers secure a wide range of closures to their respective containers though the use of a rotating chuck head. After a cap is placed onto a container a rotating chuck head is manually or automatically lowered over the cap. As the chuck head rotates it torques the cap tight. Chuck Cappers can provide some of the highest torque values and are great for a large range of cap styles such as flat caps, oval caps, flip top caps, pull spouts, safety caps, child proof caps, sport caps, and caps with over-caps or induction seals. Chuck Cappers come in a variety of styles including hand held cappers, single chuck semi-automatic and automatic models (up to 60 CPM), as well as high speed rotary systems (200+ CPM).
- Accutek’s hand held AccuCappers, because they can be moved to the container can accommodate virtually any container size, be it a tiny eye drop bottle up to large drum containers. Bench top and inline chuck cappers limited by whatever the operator or conveyor system can move under the capping head. The Biner Ellison Rotary chuck cappers can handle containers up to 9” in diameter.
- Chuck cappers can be used for capping a huge range of cap styles and sizes simply by changing the chuck to match the cap characteristics. As for the recommended ranges for particular types of equipment; Accutek hand held AccuCappers and bench top cappers range from 5mm-90mm. Inline equipment usually works best between 10mm-120mm cap sizes. Rotary equipment can handle the largest caps sizes with a range of 25mm-150mm.
- Changeover for chuck cappers starts with changing the chuck to match the cap style. On an automatic or rotary machine it would also entail adjusting the chuck head height and guide rails to match the containers height and width. Finally it would be adjusting the tightness of the clutch to output the torque value desired. On a single head machine the changeover time can be a couple minutes. Changeover on larger rotary style machines will take longer as they have multiple heads to change and adjust as well as the contain guides.
- Speeds are operator and job dependant but on average;
Hand Held / Bench Top with a good operator could see up to 20 CPM. Inline Chuck Cappers up to 30 CPM. Rotary Chuck Cappers typically fall with a 120-240 CPM average. (Higher speed can be achieved depending on project specifications and addons chosen)
- Advantage – Chuck cappers can provide some of the highest and most consistent torque values of all capping equipment.
Limitation – While great for low production or high production volume projects there are few options available for middle ground. For those middle ground jobs usually a spindle capper is the most cost effective solution.
- Hand held, bench top, and semi-auto chuck cappers all require an operator to place the cap on the container. Automatic and Rotary chuck cappers have their cap delivery systems integrated onto the unit.
Snap cappers are continuous motion capping machines that replace the tedious work of manually pressing and/or placing snap type caps. Many containers are sealed with simple caps that are pressed onto the top of the bottle and held in place by friction. To order to prevent spills, repetitive motion injuries, or otherwise general human error in applying this type of cap a Snap Capping System is recommended. Milk jugs, dropper inserts, lip balm caps, over caps, “top hat” seals, twist caps with ratcheted rip seal, and a variety of other similar style closures are all within a snap cappers capability to close.
- Accutek Snap Cappers can handle most any container size or shape a standard bottling conveyor can move. This is because the capper can attach to almost any standard conveyor. As long as proper downward force can be applied to the container as it passes under the capper it can be accommodated. The only other limitations would come from cap placement for an automatic line.
- Snap Cappers can handle a wide range of snap cap types and sizes. Again as long as proper downward force and be achieved a cap can be applied. Typical snap cap sizes usually fall within the 10mm-60mm range, but caps up to 80mm are not uncommon either.
- Changeover for snap cappers is well, a Snap. Container belts need to be adjusted for container width. Then the machine height needs to be adjusted for container height and cap pressure. If you have an automatic system change parts may need to be swapped for the new cap size.
- Speeds on semi automatic systems are operator dependant. Automatic systems can see speed up to 100 CPM.
- Advantage – Snap cappers are a very simple to run and maintain piece of equipment for a simple task. They are also inexpensive units compared to other capper types.
Limitations – Must have a fairly rigid container to handle downward capping pressure. Only suitable for snap cap types. Limited speeds.
- Accutek SnapCap machines do not place caps. Automatic solutions are available by upgrading the system with a centrifugal bowl system or cap elevator oreintator. Cap characteristics will ultimately determine the type of cap placing system.
ROPP Cappers, or Roll-On Pilfer Proof Cappers, are designed to thread and seal aluminum cap onto rigid containers. The operation of a ROPP capper involves placing an aluminum cap shell over the top of a container. The cappers heads roll around the shell pressing it against the bottle neck so that its shape conforms with the threads, lips, ridges, or other projection that have been molded onto surface. ROPP cappers are general used for wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages that require a tamper-proof cap to show that the bottle has not been opened. However roll on caps can be used with nearly any rigid container and aluminum cap.
- ROPP cappers require a very rigid container in order to cap properly. While container heights can vary, diameter widths typically stay under 150mm.
- Only ROPP style caps are acceptable. Typical sizes are 20mm-40mm in diameter.
- Changeover really only involves changing guides and change parts for the container. The ROPP capping heads automatically conform to the next width.
- Semi-automatic machines are operator dependant but 20-30 CPM are possible for an experienced operator. Rotary ROPP capper speeds are job dependant but average speeds are 140+ CPM.
- Advantage – Only capper that can apply a ROPP style closure.
- Bench top cappers require the operator to place the cap on each container. Rotary systems will have a cap handling and deliver system integrated into the machine.
When is precise torque necessary? How precise does it need to be? Precise torque is necessary to meet a DOT or standard outlined for a specific industry body.
Typically torque accuracy is a range that the final torque (either application or removal torque) must fall in. This range can vary depending on the industry, container, and cap types.
How is the proper torque determined? Torque can be measured by a torque tester. Torque testers are used to measure application or removal torque.
When is retorquing necessary? Most often retorquing of caps is necessary when a container is utilizing an induction seal. During the induction sealing process the aluminum seal, which is housed inside the cap, becomes tightly bonded to the mouth of the container. As the aluminum seals affixes to the container its thickness and the space it occupied can change by a small amount causing a tiny gap to form inside the cap. This difference can sometimes be enough to loosen cap below acceptable torque values.
What are the most important features of capping equipment? At Accutek we think flexibility, simple changeovers, and dependability (easy to maintain) are some of the most important features of capping equipment. A capper that can adjust to handle a range of containers shapes and cap sizes and be upgraded to grow with a customer’s needs will often prove to be a better long term investment. A capper must also be easy to adjust otherwise being able to handle multiple caps and containers wouldn’t be much of a feature. Accutek cappers are designed utilize only a few change parts allowing for quick and easy 30 minute changeovers. Finally a capper must be dependable. Accutek cappers are designed with as few moving parts as possible and all parts are standardized. Fewer parts mean fewer chances for part failure and easier routine maintenance. Standardized part between cappers means in the event that a replacement part is needed it is always available.
What factors should be considered when selecting a rotary versus an inline machine? There are a few items of consideration when comparing inline to rotary cappers.
First is Production Volume. While many inline cappers can deliver higher speeds up to 200 containers per minute, rotary system can continuously operate at speeds up two times faster.
Second is cap type. There are some cap types such as those with a skirt that are difficult to place and torque for an inline system at a higher speed. In these cases a rotary capper may provide more efficient and constant results.
How do you pick the right capper for your application? Picking the right capper for a specific application starts with finding out about the cap and containers specifications as well as the customers production needs. The basic steps Accutek follows in order to recommend a capping system look like:
- Cap Type – Match the cap type to the appropriate capper. (A spindle capper cannot cap a ROPP cap and vice versa.)
- Speed – Determine the speed requirements and match the appropriate style capper. (Semi-auto, inline, rotary)
- Cap Style – Determine if the capper will need non standard upgrades or options to accommodate a caps specialty characteristics. (Skirts, lips, pull tabs, etc. Usually we have a customer send a sample)
- Container Style – Determine if the capper will need non standard upgrades or options to accommodate a containers specialty characteristics. (F-style, oblong, handle, etc. Usually we have a customer send a sample.)
- Feeding – For high speed capping determine the bulk source feeder best suited for cap characteristics.
- Torque Requirements – Determine if the capping equipment type can match the customers torque requirements.
- Specialty Items – Determine if there are any specialty requirements such as induction seal, drop ring, child resistant, etc; suggest the necessary upgrades and options to accommodate said items.
What special provisions must be made for tamper-evident caps? Child-resistant caps? Caps with induction seals? Dispensing closures? Caps covered by a tamper-evident shrink band?
Some drop ring caps need special attention so the drop rings aren’t separated from the closure during the tightening process. Child resistant Caps typically require downward force to be applied to the closure while it is being tightened.
Caps with induction seals should be checked after the cap is landed onto the
container to ensure the seal is in place. Dispensing closures usually require a more complicated orientation device to ensure the closure is correctly presented to the container. Tamper Evident Bands are typically placed onto the closure / container after the capping process via secondary equipment.
Under what circumstances should a monoblock design be considered? Monoblock systems are great for producing large volumes or product at relatively cost effective price. However one major drawback with monoblock systems is their lack of adjustability. If a customer plans only to fill one type of container, or containers that have similar diameters and caps then a monoblock system could be a viable option. If at any time they plan to change containers or caps then that could render their monoblock system obsolete.
What changes are we seeing in capping technology? Capping equipment is becoming far more flexible in order to accommodate a wider range of adjustment required for different containers and closures. However manufacturers and end users need to be cautious because sometimes if a machine can handle a really wide range of containers / closures as it may be more difficult to precisely adjust for a job that requires a high amount of precision to execute properly. It’s a fine balance between versatility and specialty that many end users will only find when working with a first-class OEM.
What trends are we seeing in capping technology? Capping equipment continues to adapt to new odd shaped closures and containers that many marketing departments design without considering an equipment’s ability to load, orient, place, and torque. As an equipment manufacturer we have to continuously evolve our machines to meet those custom and creative shapes that may have been impossible to accommodate just a few years ago.
As with any equipment, capping machines will continue to take advantage of any advancement in technology as it becomes available and more affordable to end users. This may come about through new more efficient motors, more durable but less expensive materials, better computer controllers, or any number of possible advancements. Any OEM is always going to capitalize on ways to save everyone time and money, especially their customers.