What are Vacuum Heat Sealers?

The basic function of bag sealers is to apply heat, causing the ends of the product packaging to fuse. These can be combined with vacuums or even an inert gas source for gas flush sealing. Bag sealers are used by manufacturing companies, both large and small, to prepare their products for shipment and purchase. Bag sealers are an integral part of packaging in manufacturing. There are two basic types of bag sealers, depending upon the application needed – impulse sealers and rotary sealers.

Impulse Sealers

ms-350 medical device packaging heat sealer

An impulse sealer is one type of bag sealer used in packaging. Impulse sealers utilize one or two heating elements and can either be hand-operated or semi-automatic. Different size variations make impulse sealers perfect for the small to medium-scale manufacturing operations (or large-scale with an array of them). Because of their range in size and function, impulse sealers range in price.

The advantage of impulse sealing is ability to use wider variety of films. Impulse sealers come in a range of sizes to accommodate small, medium or large bags and pouches and their price range varies depending on the systems’ architecture and the associated electronics. For instance, inexpensive impulse sealers utilize analog timers, whereas bag sealers used for critical packaging utilize advanced microprocessors and therefore their price will be considerably more than a simple analog unit.

Rotary Sealer

md-3010 rotary medical packaging device sealer

Band type heat sealers are also known as continuous heat sealers or rotary sealers. These sealers utilize either heated moving belts to apply the seal or heated bars while bands move the package through the belt. The smaller ones tend to be semi-automatic, with larger, automatic ones available for large scale operations. These larger types are incorporated directly into the production line.

The product is packaged into a bag, moved down a conveyer belt, then sealed using the continuous heat sealer. The larger rotary sealers tend to only be used in large packaging operations, packaging a high volume of merchandise. Small tabletop, microprocessor-controlled rotary sealers are often used by medical device companies as they can also incorporate in-line pouch printing.

Application for Vacuum Heat Sealers

Bag sealers are used in all kinds of manufacturing. Because the heat sealing bags are available in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, bag sealers can be utilized for packaging a plethora of products. The bag size and type used are limited to the size of the sealer with impulse sealers (if feeding manually, rotary sealers can seal up to any width). The entire end of the bag needs to fit into the sealer at one time. These size considerations need to be taken into account before selecting the appropriate bag sealer.

General packaging sealers are available in a variety of sizes and styles. Some are operated by hand, and others are partially automated. There are many applications in general packaging. The sealers used depend upon the size and needs of the company. These sealers are able to seal a variety of material ranging from plastics to foil and specialized films.

Vacuum sealers incorporate a vacuum. The vacuum is applied prior to the sealing, causing an airtight seal. This is used to prolong the shelf life of the product. Both the continuous heat sealers and the impulse sealers can be combined with the vacuum. Vacuum sealers range in size and style as well, depending upon the application needed.

Vacuum Heat Sealing

V-460 medical vacuum packager gas flush heat sealer

Thermal bag sealers can also be combined with a vacuum for vacuum sealing. Vacuum sealing increases the shelf-life of many products. Removing the air from the packaging slows down decomposition and prolongs shelf-life. It can also provide increased protection for the product during transportation. This stable gas environment is a good choice for many products that may decay in the presence of an ambient environment and where moisture will create a negative effect on the product.

Medical Bag Sealer

Medical bag sealers are usually semi-automatic sealers with an advanced microprocessor to ensure repeatability in packaging validation. These sealers will seal a variety of packaging, including peel pouches, foil bags, and thermoform trays. They offer a range of heat settings and, if applicable, vacuum controls.

Medical bag or pouch sealers provide the needed processor-tuned modulation of heat time, cool temperature (or time) and temperature to consistently ensure good seals in accordance with ISO 11607 and sterile barrier system standards. For these reasons, medical bag sealers tend to be higher-priced than other sealers, which are not suitable for packaging validation.

Medical bag sealing machines need to be designed to meet the requirements for the packaging of a sterile device under the SBS (sterile barrier system). There are a host of component on a medical device bag sealer that would make it suitable for these advanced packaging systems. When selecting a medical bag sealer it is important to understand how the unit will meet the IQ (installation qualification) requirements.

Medical device packaging is centered around the process of aseptically packaging medical devices, that will be opened in a sterile environment such as a surgical suite. Medical packaging machinery, sometimes called medical bag sealing, must meet the technological demands that are associated with the rigors of sterile device packaging. Expect to see new microprocessor-driven packaging machines that aid in the process of managing regulatory issues. Machines such as our MS-451 have answered many of the seal quality issues by integrating a medical bag/pouch sealer and a pouch peel test device to better monitor seal quality at the point of packaging. The unit also incorporates a visual inspection unit in order to evaluate seal integrity, which is an important, non-destructive test methodology for quick and in-process medical seal inspection.