2024, June | Article by: Michele Merelli

Optimizing Fluid Dynamics in Flexible Packaging Machinery: A Case Study

In the fast-paced world of flexible packaging, efficiency and precision are paramount. This case study explores the optimization of fluid dynamics within a stand-up pouch packaging machine, focusing on the critical processes of pouch opening, filling, and closing. The goal: ensure optimal performance across various package materials and machine configurations while adapting to evolving regulatory restrictions.

Key takeaways

  • Material Properties Matter: Even subtle changes to packaging film properties can significantly impact machine performance.
  • Pouch opening configuration had a stronger influence on lateral deformation than material stiffness.
  • Opening Configuration is Critical: Finding the optimal pouch opening span is crucial for balancing stability and filling efficiency. Stiffer packaging films increased the risk of bottom gusset collapse during opening. Wider pouch openings allowed for higher machine speeds without excessive fluid sloshing.
  • Simulation Power: Advanced coupling of multi-flexible-body dynamics and particle-based CFD provides unprecedented insights.

The Challenge: Quantifying Complex Interactions for Maximum Efficiency

Inadequate understanding of fluid-structure interactions can lead to inefficient filling, product waste, and reduced machine throughput. Conversely, overly conservative settings may unnecessarily limit production speeds. The challenge lies in finding the optimal balance across various parameters.

Optimizing Fluid Dynamics in Flexible Packaging Machinery: A Case Study

Design exploration with simulation

To address this, a sophisticated digital model was developed, combining multi-flexible-body dynamics (RecurDyn) and particle-based computational fluid dynamics (Particleworks). This model encompassed:

  • Flexible pouch structure (using Full Flex approach).
  • Rigid machine components (clamps, nozzles, etc.).
  • Fluid behavior (detergent with non-Newtonian properties).

Three distinct scenarios were simulated:

  1. Baseline: Standard pouch opening and material properties.
  2. Varied Opening: Modified pouch opening span.
  3. Material Properties: Altered packaging film characteristics.

The packaging process was simulated through opening, filling, and closing stages, analyzing the effects of machine speed, material properties, and pouch configuration.

The simulations revealed complex interactions.

This case study demonstrates the power of advanced simulation in optimizing flexible packaging processes. By understanding the nuances of fluid-structure interactions under varying conditions, engineers can design more efficient and adaptable packaging machinery.

If you are interested in deepening the topic, read this article.

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