Cleaning of packing tools


For uninterrupted work in production processes, where products are vacuum packets, such as pills or various dragees, with the aid of sealing press packaging, the press plates, which perform this pressing, must be perfectly clean.

Usually, the plates are cleaned either due to inappropriate vacuum or due to the poor pressing of the packaging parts and consequentially poor sticking of the forming and cover foil of the press packaging. Cleanliness of sealing plates may be ensured in several ways, but not all are efficient, or, due to the mechanical nature of the cleaning, cause the destruction of the sealing plate, which is a very expensive element considering the duration of its use.

At FerroČrtalič we developed a special automatic machine for the cleaning of sealing plates with soda - SODABLAST 1 AUTO ECO.

This is a very efficient cleaning process without consequences for the basic material. Due to the small granulation, the grains of soda reach all corners and remove filth without causing any damage to the basic matrix even after several 100 cleaning cycles.  A fully automatic procedure makes the cleaning very simple, requiring only the appropriate choice of programme regarding the dimensions of the plate. It is a major advantage that sealing plates may be cleaned hot and returned, still hot, into the production process, which enables an uninhibited process of packaging. Cleaning with soda may be used on all surfaces, where it is important for the basic material to remain undamaged, making the actual use literally unlimited.

Ways of cleaning plates:

Ultrasound bath cleaning
Not the most appropriate due to poorly cleaned surface between pyramids (remnants of melted plastic).
  • Steam cleaning
    To achieve better efficiency, this is carried out under high pressure, 150 - 180 bar, and with a rotational nozzle. Cleaning without high pressure is inefficient, while the increased pressure causes damage to occur on the galvanic protection of plates themselves.
  • Mechanical cleaning
    Causes mechanical damage on the sealing plate itself and thus significantly shortens the life span of the sealing plate.
  • Laser cleaning
    Is effective but the equipment for it is more expensive and after multiple cleanings, marks - damage on the matrix can be seen

 The appearance of sealing plate after cleaning with soda

The process of cleaning with soda is very efficient, the plates can be used immediately after the cleaning. Even the smallest channels and groves on the tool are cleaned. Cleaning is also possible while plates are hot. This way of cleaning does not damage the sealing plate surface.

Since the process was the best of all, a decision was made in one of the major pharmaceutical companies, to also carry out a test of sealing plate wear while cleaning with soda. Through this test, it was revealed that soda does not cause material wear during cleaning itself. The process was carried out up to 500 cycles of cleaning. Wear control was carried out for every 50 cycles of use, always in the same area, with photographs of the area also being taken.

It was discovered that, after 500 cycles of cleaning, there is practically no significant change on the surface which was cleaned. It was thus proven in practice that the wear of plates due to cleaning does not occur through this procedure. A cycle of 500 cleanings per plate would suffice for several years of plate use. Based on the presented results of the cleaning, a decision was made to carry out most cleaning from the purchase and start-up of the sanding chamber onwards exclusively with this procedure.

This meant a significant reduction in sealing plate cleaning times, consequentially delays (production downtimes), and also the necessity to purchase new sealing plates.

With ordinary - classic cleaning with brush, water, and sandpaper, a single cleaning lasted up to ½ hours - now it only lasts a few minutes:

  • machine stopping and plate removal
  • cleaning and reattachment of plates
  • machine heating and restart

Often, cleaning was carried out several times per shift on each individual line. Packaging lines delays for cleaning are counted, the production downtimes are very large.

The procedure enables a quality cleaning of tools, significantly reduces their wear, as well as the need to purchase new tools. This equipment reduces cleaning times on packaging lines, costs of sealing plate purchase, as well as production downtimes. The soda cleaning procedure is very efficient and the plates can be returned to use immediately after cleaning.