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Filling Machine for the Cosmetic Industry
 

Many cosmetic products require a positive displacement type filling machine that can volumetrically fill relatively viscous products. Because these viscous products flow quite slowly, they must be forced through a fluid path under some pressure to deliver them into the container.  Examples of these products are liquid soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions and creams.  A piston filling machine accomplishes this perfectly with large fluid paths that lend themselves to moving thick products like the above.

One problem that has occurred in the cosmetic industry with increasing frequency is the fact that the number of products a producer must offer is increasing while the batch sizes of these products is decreasing. This puts an additional burden on the cosmetic producer with more frequent changeovers and cleanups.  While a Piston Filling Machine is excellent for handling these types of products, its weakness is that it does not clean up easily and requires adjustment in the setup process to dial in the correct fill sizes after each changeover. Thus, a piston filler can be at a disadvantage to some cosmetic companies with many Stock Keeping Units (SKU's) in their product line. On the other hand, a Servo Pump Filling Machine is almost ideally suited to the cosmetic industry because it not only handles a wide range of product viscosities but also cleans up and changes over very quickly. See below for more details on the Servo Pump Filling Machine.
 


(click to enlarge)  Piston Filling Machine for Thick Cosmetic Products

Piston Filling Machines have long been the machine of choice in the cosmetic industry because of its relatively high output for difficult (viscous) products, its mid level capital cost and relatively ease of operator understanding and maintenance of this conventional technology. This type of filling machine is also very accurate in providing a volumetric fill size to within +/- 1% of required fill volume. With typical output of 10 containers per minute per nozzle, a fairly small footprint machine can handle large production volumes. To increase output of cosmetic products on a piston filling machine, they are commonly configured with jacketed product hoppers to increase the flow characteristics of the products through the machine as well as maintain resultant process temperatures during manufacturing.

It should be noted that while these machines are ideally suited to thick products, they are not always well suited to thin flowable products such as very thin oils or astringent face cleaners with alcohols. However it is possible to optimize the construction of a piston filling machine's fluid path and function so that it can handle a middle range of low to medium viscosity cosmetic products thereby minimizing drips or leaks on thin products.

As mentioned above, piston filling machines invariably require disassembly of the entire fluid path for thorough cleaning between batches. Although, good machine design with tool-less disassembly and changeover is very helpful in this regard, one cannot escape the relatively long changeover time associated with multi nozzle systems.


(click to enlarge) Servo Pump Filling Machine for Wide Range of Cosmetic Products


The Servo Pump Filling Machine is an extremely flexible, easy to use and easy to clean filling machine in a class of its own which can fill almost any cosmetic product you can imagine. Because it uses positive displacement pumps dedicated to each nozzle it can handle an extremely wide range of viscosities within the range of the particular pump specified on the machine. The major advantage of this filling machine is its ease of cleaning and this makes it very convenient for producers that have many SKU's of products that must be produced in a single day. A computer controlled pump dedicated to each filling nozzle allows for total programmatic control of all filling parameters with unlimited fill sizes, high volumetric accuracy and the ability to deliver almost any thick or thin sanitary product into almost any container. These machines have built in cleaning cycles that allow the entire machine to be self cleaning between changeovers depending on the level of automation the buyer wishes to invest in.

The Servo Pump Filling Machine's capital cost is not low. Each servo controlled pump/nozzle combination typically costs over $10,000 per nozzle.  However, this machine pays for itself with tremendous productivity compared to other systems (like the piston filling machine above) where cleanup and changeover time is a mere fraction of the time in the productive day. In fact, filling machine operating parameters can be permanently stored in memory for instantaneous recall during the setup procedure. As mentioned above this superior filling technology makes it possible for the producer to fill many unrelated product batches in the same day and be very responsive to his or her customers.
 


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