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United States Patent Application 20180251242
Kind Code A1
GORAKAVI; Praveen Kumar ;   et al. September 6, 2018

APPARATUS AND PROCESS FOR MANUFACTURING OF A PACKAGING SACHET

Abstract

Apparatus (100) for manufacturing of a packaging sachet, comprising:--a plunger body (101) comprising blades (102) which are laterally ejectable,--a forming body (103) suitable to receive the plunger body (101) and comprising--side planes (104),--lateral sealing clamp units (105),--an end sealing clamp unit (106),--a forming table (107), comprising an opening (108) providing access for the plunger body (101) to the forming body (103),--a filling unit (109).


Inventors: GORAKAVI; Praveen Kumar; (US) ; VAN DE POLL; Jonkheer Theodoor Hendrik; (Woerden, NL)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Conopco, Inc., d/b/a UNILEVER

Englewood Cliffs

NJ

US
Assignee: Conopco, Inc., d/b/a UNILEVER
Englewood Cliffs
NJ

Family ID: 1000003376869
Appl. No.: 15/759265
Filed: September 2, 2016
PCT Filed: September 2, 2016
PCT NO: PCT/EP2016/070738
371 Date: March 12, 2018


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: B65B 3/02 20130101; B65B 47/06 20130101
International Class: B65B 3/02 20060101 B65B003/02; B65B 47/06 20060101 B65B047/06

Foreign Application Data

DateCodeApplication Number
Sep 23, 2015IN3614/MUM/2015
Nov 5, 2015EP15193103.7

Claims



1. Apparatus (100) for manufacturing of a packaging sachet from a blank, the apparatus comprising: a plunger body (101) comprising blades (102) which are laterally ejectable, a forming body (103) suitable to receive the plunger body (101) and comprising side planes (104), lateral sealing clamp units (105), wherein the blades (102), when ejected, are laterally ejected from the plunger body, thereby guiding areas of the blank to be sealed together into the lateral sealing clamp units (105) of the forming body (103), an end sealing clamp unit (106), to close the preform to result in a packaging sachet, a forming table (107), comprising an opening (108) providing access for the plunger body (101) to the forming body (103), a filling unit (109).

2. Apparatus according to claim 1, wherein a cross section of the plunger body (101) has three corners.

3. Apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the side (113) of the plunger body directed to the forming body is oblique relative to the length of the plunger body (101).

4. Apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the side of the plunger body directed to the forming body is oblique relative to the length of the plunger body with an angle .alpha., and wherein the forming table is positioned oblique relative to the length of the plunger body with an angle .beta., and wherein the angles .alpha. and .beta. are the same.

5. Apparatus according to claim 1, wherein at least one of the side planes (104) is removable from the forming body, and at least one of side planes (104) is not removable from the forming body (103).

6. Apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the apparatus further comprises a rotation table (110) accommodating more than one forming body (103), preferably two, to which rotation table at least one, preferably two, non-removable side plane of the forming bodies (103) are connected.

7. Apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the forming body (103) further comprises an end sealing clamp unit (106), which preferably is located at the upper part of the forming body (103) at non-removable side planes.

8. Apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the plunger body (101) comprises means to allow air to pass.

9. Apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the apparatus comprises a wedge 114.

10. A process for the manufacturing of a packaging sachet containing a product, the process comprising the steps of: a) Positioning a blank comprising areas to form a seal rim on a forming table (107), b) Moving a plunger body (101) comprising laterally ejectable blades (102) into a forming body (103) comprising side planes (104) and lateral sealing clamp units (105), wherein the ejectable blades (102) are laterally ejected from the plunger body, thereby guiding areas of the blank to be sealed together into the lateral sealing clamp units (105) of the forming body (103), the areas remaining separated from each other by a blade (102). c) Retracting the laterally ejectable blades (102) of the plunger body (101) into the plunger body, d) Sealing the areas of the blank present in the lateral sealing clamp units (105), thereby providing a preform, e) Removing the plunger body (101) from the preform, f) Filling the preform with product, g) Closing the preform by sealing via an end sealing clamp unit (106), thereby providing a packaging sachet comprising product, h) Releasing the sachet.

11. Process according to claim 10, wherein the process further comprises the steps of: after step e), releasing at least some of the lateral clamp seal units (105), detaching at least part of the forming body (103) from the preform (103), to allow transportation of the preform to a filling unit (109), after step h) returning the detached part of the forming body back in its original position, thereby reassembling a forming body (103).

12. Process according to claim 11, wherein the transportation of the preform to a filling unit occurs via rotation of a rotation table (110) to which the preform is connected via at least one lateral sealing clam unit (105).

13. Process according to claim 10, wherein filling in step f) is carried out via a filling unit (109), preferably a filling nozzle, preferably via bottom up filling.

14. Process according to claim 10, wherein before closing step g), a wedge guides a part of the preform into the direction of the end sealing clamp unit, in the direction parallel to the end sealing clamp unit (106).
Description



[0001] The present invention relates to an apparatus to manufacture a packaging sachet, and to a process for manufacturing of a packaging sachet.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Packaging sachets are a common way to package liquid or pasty consumer goods in small portions. Examples are sachets suitable for one-time-usage containing mayonnaise, mustard, catchup, liquid soap, skin cream, etc. The model that is most used is a rectangular, flat, `two-dimensional`, sachet, made from foil, often closed on both short ends with a seal and over its length closed with two side seal, or with one back seal, for example a fin seal. Such sachets are normally opened by removing an end part and squeezing out the content of the sachet.

[0003] An alternative packaging suitable for one-time-usage is a packaging which is capable of standing upright, wherein the often liquid content of the packaging does not run out of the packaging after opening. In this way, the opened packaging allows the user to dip objects into the opened packaging, like a finger, or pieces of food, like French fries. Such a packaging often comprises a plastic cup with a closure seal made of foil, which is removed to open the cup.

[0004] U.S. Pat. No. 4,048,781 relates to a process for manufacturing a rimmed container preparatory to the filling and closing thereof from a one piece homogeneous blank, composed entirely of heat formable material containing just the requisite amount of material for forming the rimmed container to be filled, filling rim and an apparatus for performing the process, wherein the process includes the steps of uniformly heating a substantially rigid planar preshaped homogeneous blank of thermo plastic material, out to at least immediately adjacent the portion thereof adapted to form the container rim to a formable state while leaving the outermost periphery portion of the rim rigid, then while holding said rigid outermost peripheral blank portion forming the heated blank portion into a cavity, to produce a container.

[0005] A need was recognized to provide a packaging that can be used by a consumer irrespective of his/her preference for either squeezing or dipping, as the packaging will facilitate both options. Such a packaging has a bottom part on which it can stand, whereas the upper part can be opened. Such opening of the sachet can be provided over the entire upper part of the sachet, to allow access and dipping by an object. Alternatively, it can be opened at the front side, providing an opening, to allow squeezing-out of the content. Such an inventive packaging is made from flexible material, has a cross-sectional shape that has more than two corners, preferably triangular, and has a front side which preferably is tilted forward, in this way providing a `spout` which after removing its tip, allows content to be squeezed out. An example of such packaging is depicted in FIG. 2.

[0006] Although the skilled person in general will be capable of manufacturing such a revolutionary three dimensional packaging sachet from a blank of foil, it was recognized as a big challenge to produce such a packaging in an efficient manner, especially at a rate and scale that is desired for industrial production.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] To overcome these manufacturing complications, surprisingly, an apparatus and a method is provided, which allows the efficient production of a three-dimensional packaging sachet with more than two sides, which meet the requirements set-out above, at a fast and efficient manner. Accordingly, in a first aspect the present invention relates to an apparatus (100) for manufacturing of a packaging sachet, comprising: [0008] a plunger body (101) comprising blades (102) which are laterally ejectable, [0009] a forming body (103) suitable to receive the plunger body (101) and comprising [0010] a side planes (104), [0011] a lateral sealing clamp units (105), [0012] an end sealing clamp unit (106), [0013] a forming table (107), comprising an opening (108) providing access for the plunger body (101) to the forming body (103), [0014] a filling unit (109).

[0015] In a further aspect, the present invention relates to a process for the manufacturing of a packaging sachet containing a product, the process comprising the steps of: [0016] a) Positioning a blank comprising areas to form a seal rim on a forming table (107), [0017] b) Moving a plunger body (101) comprising laterally ejectable blades (102) into a forming body (103) comprising side planes (104) and lateral sealing clamp units (105), wherein the ejectable blades (102) are laterally ejected from the plunger body (101), thereby guiding areas of the blank to be sealed together into the lateral seal clamp units (105) of the forming body (103), the areas remaining separated from each other by a blade (102). [0018] c) Retracting the laterally ejectable blades (102) of the plunger body (101) into the plunger body, [0019] d) Sealing the areas of the blank present in the lateral sealing clamp units (105), thereby providing a preform, [0020] e) Removing the plunger body (101) from the forming body (103), [0021] f) Filling the preform with product, [0022] g) Closing the preform by sealing via an end sealing clamp unit (106), thereby providing a packaging sachet comprising product, [0023] h) Releasing the sachet.

DESCRIPTION OF FIGURES

[0024] FIG. 1 shows a typical form of the apparatus (100) of the invention, showing a forming table (107), located below a plunger body (101) which comprises three blades (102), and a bottom side (113), wherein the forming table is positioned above a rotation table (110) to which two forming bodies (103) are mounted. The forming bodies (103) comprise three side planes (104), two of them are fixed to the rotation table (110), whereas one of them is removable, wherein the removable plane consists of two plane parts. Between the side planes lateral sealing clamp units (105) are visible that run along the vertical edges of the side planes (104) of the forming bodies (103). The top edges (112) of the mounted side planes of the forming bodies comprise an end-sealing clamp unit (106). The figure further shows a wedge (114) and a filling nozzle (117) attached to a pusher (115).

[0025] FIG. 2 shows a typical packaging (200) to be produced by the apparatus and process of the invention. The packaging has two side planes (202), a front plane (201), a bottom plane (203), three lateral seal rims (204) and a back seal rim (205). The front plane has a triangular shape, and is tilted forward, allowing functioning as a spout during emptying the sachet by squeezing.

[0026] FIG. 3 shows the location of angles a, 13, and y. Angle a is the angle formed between the length of the plunger body (a vertical axis) and the bottom surface of the plunger body (understood as an angle between lines in a plane which is perpendicular to a plane parallel to the length of the plunger body and to a plane parallel to the bottom surface of the plunger body). Angler .beta. is the angle between the forming table and the length of the plunger body (a vertical axis, understood as an angle between lines in a plane which is perpendicular to a plane parallel to the length of the plunger body and to a plane parallel to the forming table). Angle .gamma. is the angle between the bottom face of the plunger body and the forming table, i.e the absolute difference between angle .alpha. and angle .beta..

[0027] FIG. 4 shows an apparatus according to the invention. On the forming table (107) a blank is positioned.

[0028] FIG. 5 shows an apparatus according to the invention, comprising all features as shown in FIG. 1. In addition a blank holder (111) is located at the top of the forming table. The forming table is positioned under an angle relative to the length of the plunger body, wherein the bottom plane of the plunger body and the forming table are oblique and form parallel planes, in this way forming an angle .gamma. of 0.degree. At the forming table a blank is present. A preform is held by the vertical clamp seal unit of a disassembled forming body positioned under the filling the unit.

[0029] FIG. 6 shows a cross sectional view of the forming body, indicating the three side planes (104) of a forming body (103). Between the side planes are lateral sealing units (105) located. The sealing units comprise of two parts, each part connected to a respective side plane. The side plane (104) indicated in the top of FIG. 6 comprises two sub side planes, and are both removable and as can be seen, when it is removed, two entire sealing clamp units are removed with the removable side wall (104), one sealing clamp unit, comprising two halves, connected to one sub side plane.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0030] Apparatus

[0031] Forming Table

[0032] The apparatus according to the invention comprises a forming table (107). The forming table provides the area on which a pre-cut two-dimensional piece of packaging material is positioned. Such a pre-cut piece of material is referred to in the field as a blank. The forming table comprises an opening (108). This opening allows a plunger body (101) to access a forming body (103), thereby shaping the blank into a preformed sachet. Such a preformed sachet is closed yet, but is an intermediate product, and is hereby referred to a "preform". Access to the forming body (103) is preferably provided via the upper part of the forming body. Consequently, the opening (108) in the forming table preferably has a similar shape as the cross section of the plunger body. In this way, optimal fit results. The opening (108) preferably has a triangular shape. The forming table (107) can suitably be positioned horizontally. In a preferred aspect, the forming table is positioned oblique relative to the length of the plunger body (101). In this manner an angle 13 is present between the forming table and the length of the plunger body, which is normally a vertical axis. The angle .beta. can have a value of between that of angle .alpha. and 90.degree.. Preferably it has the same value as angle .alpha..

[0033] Blank Holder

[0034] Preferably, the apparatus comprises a blank holder (111). Such a blank holder positions a blank on the forming table (107). Preferably, during the process of moving the plunger body (101) into the forming body (103), the blank holder keeps the part of the blank not pushed yet into the forming body flat on the forming table. In this manner, optimal forming of the pre-form from the forming table into the forming body results, and the risk of wrinkling or tearing of the blank is reduced or prevented. Such a blank holder is especially preferred if the angle .gamma. between the forming table and the plunger body is more than 10.degree.. The angle .gamma. is preferably of between 0.degree. and 60.degree., more preferably of between 0.degree. and 30.degree., most preferably 0.degree.. Angle .gamma.=angle .beta.-angle .alpha..

[0035] Plunger Body

[0036] The plunger body (101) is suitably positioned above the forming table (107). The plunger body is movable into the forming body (103), preferably in a vertical manner. The cross-sectional shape and dimension of the plunger body (101) preferably reflects the shape and dimension of the front plane (201) of the packaging sachet. It is most preferred that a cross-section of the plunger body comprises three corners, preferably has a triangular cross section. The bottom face of the plunger body preferably has not more than three corners and preferably is a triangle shape. This is optimal for creating a sachet with a triangular front plane (201) and three lateral seal rims (204).

[0037] Most preferably, the lower side (113) of the plunger body, i.e. the side directed towards the forming body (103), is oblique relative to the length of the plunger body (101), in this way forming an angle .alpha.. The angle .alpha. defines to what extent the front side of the resulting packaging sachet is tilted forward. The angle .alpha. preferably is of between 30.degree. and 90.degree., preferably of between 40.degree. and 80.degree., most preferably if between 50.degree. and 70, see FIG. 3. As said, in a preferred situation, the forming table is positioned with an angle .beta. relative to the length of the plunger body, normally a vertical axis. .beta. is greater than .alpha. and can be up to 90.degree.. It is most preferred, that the side (113) of the plunger body (101) directed to the forming body (103) is oblique relative to the length of the plunger body with an angle .alpha., and that the forming table (107) is positioned oblique relative to the length of the plunger body (101) with an angle .beta., and wherein the angles .alpha. and .beta. are the same. In this way, the oblique lower side of the plunger and the forming table form parallel planes. The angle .gamma. between the forming table and the surface of the plunger body is 0.degree. in this preferred case. In this way, the risk of wrinkling or damage of the blank during inward movement of the plunger is reduced to a minimum.

[0038] The plunger body (101) comprises blades (102). These blades can be ejected from the plunger body and can be retracted into the plunger body. The blades are located along edges of the plunger body, and hence, the blades are ejectable and retractable in a lateral manner and preferably perpendicular to the length of the plunger body. The length of the plunger is the dimension of the moving direction of the plunger. When the plunger body moves into the forming body (103), the blades fit into the lateral sealing clamp units (105) which are suitably positioned between the side planes (104) of the forming body. This is the location where the lateral seals of the packaging sachet are formed. The blades (102) help to guide the areas of the blank which will form the lateral seal rims (204) of the sachet into the lateral seal clamp units (105).

[0039] The plunger body (101) most preferably comprises means to allow air to pass through the plunger body, preferably to prevent the formation of under-pressure in the preform when the plunger body (101) is removed from the preform. Such a means preferably comprises an opening in the plunger body connecting the bottom plane (113) of the plunger body, the plane directed towards the forming body (103), to the outside world. It may be preferred that the means to allow air to pass through the plunger body comprises a means to add air below the plunger body, preferably to add air below the plunger body into the preform. In this manner an air pulse or an overpressure can be created in the preform, when the plunger body is not removed totally from it yet, which may be beneficial for testing the integrity of the preform.

[0040] Forming Body

[0041] The forming body (103) is suitable to receive the plunger body (101). It is preferably located downstream of the forming table (107), preferably below it. Preferably, the forming body comprises at least three side planes (104), most preferably it comprises three side planes. Lateral sealing clamp units (105) are present between the side planes (104), preferably located at the edges of the side planes. In this way, each of the lateral edges, i.e. in the direction of the plunger movement, normally the vertical direction, of the forming body comprises a lateral sealing unit, which results in three lateral sealing clamp units in the most preferred situation. The lateral sealing clamp units are oriented parallel to the length of the forming body (104), i.e. parallel to the direction of the plunger movement, normally and preferably vertical. In this way, a lateral sealing clamp unit (105) suitably comprises two parts, one at one side plane of the forming body and one at the flanking side plane of the forming body. When the sealing clamp unit is activated, a seal is formed at the packaging material present in the seal clamp unit. The seal clamp unit is preferably a heat-seal clamp unit. Accordingly, it is preferred that the forming body (103) comprises three side planes (104), and the forming body comprises three lateral sealing clamp units (105).

[0042] The apparatus comprises an end sealing clamp unit (106). It is highly preferred that the end sealing clamp unit (106) is located at the forming body. This end sealing clamp unit suitably comprises two parts, which are preferably located respectively at the upper parts of two side planes (104) of the forming body. The upper parts are normally the parts directed towards the forming table (107) at the moment the preform is produced in the forming body, as will be clear for the artisan.

[0043] It is preferred, that at least one of the side planes (104) is removable from the forming body (103). This allows transportation of the preform from the manufacturing unit of the apparatus to e.g. the filling unit of the apparatus, by freeing created lateral seal rims 204, preferably two lateral seal rims, which otherwise would prevent such movement. For most efficient working of the apparatus, it is preferred that the at least one removable side plane consists of two sub-planes, which can move relative to each other, for example by means of rotation. Preferably, the forming body comprises one removable side plane which consists of two sub-planes, which can move relative to each other and relative to the rest of the forming body, for example by means of rotation. This situation is indicated in FIG. 6. Preferably, at least one, preferably two, of the side planes is not removable from the forming body. A non-removable side plane is preferably mounted to the apparatus in a fixed manner. This allows the preparation of a preform in the forming body and the filling process of the preform to be carried out at different locations in the apparatus, to increase efficiency of production, as will be set out below. The end sealing clamp unit (106) is preferably located at the upper part of the forming body (103) at non-removable side planes. Non-removable side planes are preferably mounted to a rotation table (110) of the apparatus, as set out below. When a side plane (104) is removed from the forming body, it is preferred that the sealing clamp units in connection with this removable side plane are removed together with the side plane, connected with this side plane. In case of the preferred situation wherein the removable side plane (104) comprises two sub-planes, each sub-plane is removed together with a sealing clamp unit attached to it. Alternatively, one half of the sealing clamp unit remains at a non-removable side plane and the other half of the sealing clamp unit is removed together with the removable side plane or the sub-side plane, respectively. In this case, when a removable side plane or preferably a sub-side plane, is removed, at two, preferably two vertical, edges a half sealing clamp unit is removed with it.

[0044] Rotation Table

[0045] It is preferred, that the apparatus further comprises a rotation table (110). The rotation table is normally connected to the frame of the apparatus with a rotation axis (116). Such a rotation table facilitates the transportation of the preform from an area in the apparatus where the preform is made to an area where the preform is filled and closed. In this manner the production goes twice as fast as manufacturing of the preform can be carried out simultaneously with filling of another preform in the same apparatus. The dry manufacturing step is separated from the wet filling step, which is considered an advantage. It is preferred, that at least a gripping means is present at the rotation table. Such a gripping means allows to hold the preform in place during transportation from the area where the preform is made. It is preferred, that at least a lateral clamp seal unit (105) of the forming body (103) is mounted to the rotation table (110), to allow such transportation. This lateral clamp seal unit preferably functions as a gripping means to hold the preform in place during transportation. Such a lateral clamp seal unit is preferably connected to two side planes (104) of the forming body which are connected to the rotation table (110), and in this way qualify as non-removable side planes. It is preferred that the rotation table accommodates more than one forming body (103), preferably it accommodates two forming bodies. This is conveniently carried out, when at least one lateral sealing clamp of these forming bodies is mounted to the rotation table, most preferably, wherein at least two side planes (104) and a lateral sealing clamp unit (105) of these forming bodies (103) are mounted to the rotation table (110). The skilled person will understand, that the term "forming body" encompasses the interpretation of a temporarily disassembled forming body, wherein not all side planes (104) are connected, but wherein only the side planes that are mounted to the rotation table are present. Before the forming body receives the plunger body, the temporarily removed side plane is connected to the non-removed, mounted, side plane or planes, thereby re-assembling the forming body. In this respect, when the rotation table comprises one or more forming bodies, in preferably all but one of the forming bodies at least one side plane (104) is absent, i.e. temporarily removed during working of the apparatus.

[0046] In this respect, the present invention preferably relates to an apparatus, wherein the apparatus further comprises a rotation table (110) accommodating more than one forming body (103), preferably two, to which rotation table at least one, preferably two, non-removable side planes of the forming bodies (103) are connected.

[0047] Filling Unit

[0048] The packaging sachet preferably comprises a dressing, sauce, soup or skin cream, more preferably a catchup or a sauce. Such consumer products are filled into the packaging sachet. The apparatus of the invention further comprises a filling unit (109), preferably a filling nozzle (117). Such a filling unit is preferably moveable upwards and downwards, thereby allowing bottom-up filling procedures of the preform. The filling unit preferably comprises a pusher (115), which can guide the filling nozzle inwards and outwards of the prepack during the filling process.

[0049] The filling unit is preferably located at an area of the apparatus distant from the area where the preform is manufactured. In this way, the apparatus preferably comprises a preform manufacturing area, comprising the forming table and the plunger body, and a filling--and closure area, wherein the filling--and closure area are preferably co-located. In such a preferred constellation, a rotation table (110) is preferably present, comprising one or more, preferably two, forming bodies, which are transported from the preform manufacturing area to the filling and closure area and back to the preform manufacturing area, wherein during transportation of the preform to the filling and closure area and back to the preform manufacturing area a side plane is removed, which is reassembled temporarily before the plunger body enters the forming body.

[0050] Wedge

[0051] The apparatus preferably further comprises a wedge (114). The wedge is located in the apparatus at the location where the closure of the preform is carried out, preferably at the filling area. Such a wedge pushes a side of the preform inwards, relative to the preform. The wedge in this manner, guides a part of the preform into the direction of the preferred end sealing clamp unit. In this way, a back seal rim (205) is formed, closing the preform.

[0052] As will be understood by the skilled person, the apparatus of the invention normally comprises an apparatus frame to which the essential and preferred elements are arranged relative to each other. In this respect, the forming table is fixed to an apparatus frame. A plunger body is movably mounted normally above this forming table, whereas normally the forming body is present below the forming table. The forming body can be mounted directly to an apparatus, but preferably is mounted to a rotation table which is rotationally mounted to the apparatus frame with an axis (116). As set-out above, preferably more, most preferably two, forming bodies are mounted to the rotation table, wherein preferably two side planes of a forming body are mounted to the rotation table and one side plane is removable, and moveably connected to the apparatus frame. This detachable side plane is located in the manufacturing area of the apparatus, and mounted to the apparatus frame below the forming table, to reattach to the side planes mounted to the rotation table when the forming body is reassembled. The filling unit and pusher are moveably mounted to the apparatus frame, normally parallel to the plunger. It will be understood by the skilled person, that preferably, especially in an industrial setting, more apparatuses of the invention are arranged in series to allow mass production of a packaging sachet. In this respect, the apparatus of the invention functions as a unit in a production constellation comprising more apparatuses of the invention. The apparatus of the invention, or preferably a series of them, are preferably connected to such a production constellation, for example a packaging machine, via a connection of the apparatus frame to a framework of the production constellation, as the skilled person will understand. In this respect, preferably the invention further relates to a packaging machine comprising more than one apparatus of the invention.

[0053] Process

[0054] The present invention, in a further aspect, relates to a process of manufacturing of a packaging sachet comprising a filling. This process is preferably carried out with an apparatus of the invention.

[0055] In step a) of the process, a blank is positioned on a forming table (107). Such a blank is preferably made from flexible material, which can be sealed. Such material is suitably a laminate of materials selected from paper, polymer, and metal, as known in the art. The blank comprises areas which will form the lateral sealing rims of the packaging sachet. These areas are normally located at the edges of the blank.

[0056] In step b), a plunger body (101) comprising blades (102) which are laterally ejectable is moved into a forming body (103) comprising side planes (104), lateral seal clamp units (105) and preferably an end sealing clamp unit (106). The lateral sealing clamp units are preferably located between the side planes, along the edges of the side planes, normally the edges in the direction of the movement of the plunger, normally the vertical edges. By moving the plunger body into the forming body, the blank is pushed into the forming body. The blades (102) are in the ejected state, i.e. laterally ejected from the plunger body, thereby guiding areas of the blank to be sealed together into the lateral seal clamp units (105) of the forming body (103), the areas remaining separated from each other by a blade (102). The blades allow proper guidance of the flexible material into the slits of the lateral sealing clamp units and reduce the risk of wrinkling or damage of the blank when the blank is pushed in the forming body during step b) of the process. The areas to be sealed together are normally outer edges of the blank. These areas are guided to be located against each other into the lateral sealing clamp units (105) of the forming body (103). These areas of the blank will form the lateral seal rims (204) of the packaging sachet.

[0057] In step c), the laterally ejectable blades (102) of the plunger body are retracted into the plunger body. In this manner, the areas of the blank present in the lateral sealing clamp units, comprising the areas of the blank to be sealed together, contact each other.

[0058] In step d), the areas of the blank present in the lateral sealing units are sealed. These are the areas of the blank to be sealed together. This is done by activating the lateral sealing clamp units (105). In this manner, lateral seal rims (204) are provided and a preform sachet is provided. Such a preform is still open, preferably at the (future) back side of the resulting packaging sachet. Sealing preferably comprises heat sealing.

[0059] In step e), the plunger body (101) is removed from the preform. This is done by removing the plunger body from the forming body (103). The preform is hold in place by the lateral seal clamp units (105). Removal of the plunger body can be done when sealing has started, and hence step e) is carried out preferably at the same time and/or after step d). It is preferably removed in a vertical, upward direction. As will be understood, during removal of the plunger body from the preform, the lateral blades are in the retracted state, i.e. in the plunger body.

[0060] In a next step, step f), of the process, the preform is filled with product. This product is preferably a liquid food product such as a dressing or a sauce, or with a liquid personal care product such as a skin cream or a soap. The product is preferably catchup or mayonnaise. Filling is preferably carried out via a filling unit (109). Such a filling unit preferably comprises a filling nozzle (117). Filling is preferably carried out via bottom-up filling. This reduces the risk of spoilage of areas of the preform that need to be sealed together at a later stage of the process, such as in step g). The filling unit preferably comprises a pusher (115), which can guide the filling nozzle inwards and outwards of the prepack during the filling process.

[0061] In step g) of the process the preform is closed by sealing, preferably heat sealing. Sealing preferably is carried out via the end clamp sealing unit (106). Thereto, the two parts of the end sealing clamp unit, preferably respectively located at two side planes (104) of the forming body (103), move together, are activated, and close the preform. In this manner, the preform is closed, and a packaging sachet is formed. This seal preferably provides the back seal rim (205) of the packaging sachet. It is highly preferred, that before closing step g), a wedge guides a part of the preform into the direction of the end sealing clamp unit, in the direction parallel to the end sealing clamp unit. Closing step g) preferably comprises closing of an end clamp seal unit and wherein simultaneously with the closing of the end clamp seal unit, said wedge is moved away from the end clamp seal unit, thereby allowing the end clamp seal unit to close and to close the preform to result in a packaging sachet.

[0062] In step h), the packaging sachet resulting from step g) is released. Releasing the packaging from the apparatus is suitably done by opening the sealing clamp units that held the packaging sachet in place. Releasing preferably comprises opening of the preferred end sealing clamp unit (106) and of a lateral sealing clamp unit.

[0063] It is preferred, that the preparation of the preform is carried out at a separate part of the apparatus than where filling and closing of the preform is conducted. To this end, the forming body can preferably be disassembled, as described above, by removing at least one of the side planes. The preform is preferably transported to a filling and closing unit. Consequently, it is preferred that the invention relates to a process wherein the process further comprises the steps of [0064] After step e), releasing at least some of the lateral clamp seal units (105), [0065] Detaching at least part of the forming body (103) from the preform, to allow transportation of the preform to a filling unit.

[0066] It is preferred, that when at least some of the lateral sealing clamp units (105) are released, all but one lateral sealing clamp unit is released. The one not removed is preferably the clamp seal unit closest to the rotation axis. In this way, one lateral sealing clamp unit (105) functions as a gripping means to transport the preform to the filler, e.g. in a filling unit. This is preferably the sealing clamp unit closest to the rotation axis (116) of the rotation table. When at least part of the forming body (103), is moved away from the preform, it is preferred that at least one side plane, preferably one side plane, is removed from the forming body. As set out above, the removable side plane preferably comprises two sub planes. Hence this step is preferably carried out by removing two sub-planes from the forming body. The sealing clamp unit adjacent to a sub-plane is preferably removed together with the sub plane. This prevents the formed lateral seal rims (204) to lock the preform thereby preventing rotation of the rotation table and transportation of the preform, e.g. to the filling unit. The removal is conveniently carried out over just a short distance, sufficient to allow the rotation table to rotate and the preform to be transported.

[0067] It is preferred that after step h), wherein the formed packaging sachet is released, the removed part of the forming body is returned back in its original position, thereby reassembling a forming body (103). Therefore, in this preferred situation the process further comprises the step [0068] after step h) returning the de-attached part of the forming body back in its original position, thereby reassembling a forming body (103).

[0069] It is understood by the skilled person, that the original position is normally meant as being connected to two side planes (103) of a forming body, to reassemble a forming body. It is preferred, that the transportation of the preform to a filling unit occurs via rotation of a rotation table (110) to which the preform is connected via at least one lateral sealing clam unit (105).

[0070] This is preferably the lateral sealing clamp unit located closest to the rotation axis (116) of the rotation table.

[0071] As set out in the description of the apparatus of the invention, it is preferred, that more than one forming body (103) is attached to a rotation table. To this end, it is preferred, that when the de-attached part of the forming body, preferably comprising one or more, preferably one, side plane of the forming body is returned in its original position, i.e. the position in connection with the rest of a forming body, a forming body is reassembled with different side planes than the forming body from which the de-attached part originated from. This is the consequence of the rotation of a rotation table, which brings the remaining side planes (104) of a forming body, i.e. the non-removable parts, back from the filling area towards the removable side plane which is returned into position.

[0072] The invention will now be exemplified by the following, non-limiting examples.

EXAMPLES

Example 1

[0073] An example of an apparatus according to the invention has been depicted in FIG. 5. The apparatus comprises a forming table (107), located below a plunger body (101) which comprises three blades (102). On the forming table (107) a blank is positioned from flexible and sealable foil. The forming table is positioned under an angle .beta., relative to the length of the plunger body. The bottom plane (113) of the plunger body (101) is oblique, having an angle .alpha. relative to the length of the plunger body, and angles .alpha. and .beta. are the same, to minimize any wrinkling or damage during the formation of the preform.

[0074] The cross section of the plunger body is triangular. The bottom side (113) of the plunger body is oblique, relative to the length of the plunger. The blades are positioned along the edges of the plunger body. The plunger body comprises a channel to allow air to pass through the body, to maintain atmospheric pressure below the plunger body during movement of the plunger body. The forming table is positioned above a rotation table (110) to which two forming bodies (103) are mounted. A blank holder (111) is positioned at the top of the forming table. The forming bodies (103) comprise three side planes (104), two of them are fixed to the rotation table (110), whereas one of them is removable (the one not connected to the rotation table). Between the side planes lateral sealing clamp units (105) are visible that run along the vertical edges of the side planes (104) of the forming bodies (103). The top edges (112) of the mounted side planes of the forming bodies comprise an end-sealing clamp unit (106). The figure further shows a wedge (114) and a filling nozzle (117). The figure shows that one forming body is used for forming the preform, whereas simultaneously the second forming body, which is disassembled and from which a side plane is removed, is used for filling the preform and closing it to result in a packaging sachet comprising a product. During the filling and closure procedure, the preform is held to the apparatus by a gripping means, which is in the present example the lateral sealing clamp unit connected to the rotation table.

Example 2

[0075] Example 2 relates to FIG. 4, wherein another embodiment of the present invention is shown in a schematic manner. This embodiment comprises all elements of the invention and as described in Example 1, but the difference is that the angle .beta., relative to the length of the plunger body, is 90.degree.. No blank holder is depicted.

Example 3

[0076] Example 3 describes the inventive process of manufacturing a packaging sachet comprising mayonnaise. A pre-cut piece of flexible and heat-sealable foil is positioned on the forming table (107). The forming table contains a hole (108). A plunger body (101) having a triangular cross section is then moved towards the blank. The bottom plane (113) of the plunger body, which is the plane directed towards the forming table, is oblique, and forms an angle relative to the length of the plunger body. The forming table is also oblique, and forms the same angle relative to the length of the plunger body. The plunger body fits into hole in the forming table regarding shape and dimension. The plunger body (101) comprises three laterally ejectable blades (102). The plunger body is moved through the hole in the forming table into a forming body (103) positioned below the forming table. The forming table comprises three side planes (104) and three lateral sealing clamp units (105) positioned between the side planes. When the plunger body is moved into the forming body the three ejectable blades (102) are laterally ejected from the plunger body, thereby guiding areas of the blank to be sealed together into the lateral seal clamp units (105) of the forming body (103). The areas to be sealed, in the lateral sealing clamp units remaining separated from each other by a blade (102). Then the blades are retracted into the plunger body, allowing the areas of the blank to be sealed to attach. The lateral sealing clamp units are activated, thereby sealing the areas of the blank together that are in the lateral sealing clamp units, resulting in a preform with three side seals (204). The plunger body is removed from the blank, after sealing has started. Then two lateral seal clamp units are disassembled and one side plane is detached from the forming body. The preform remains connected to the apparatus as still one lateral sealing clamp unit is in the closed position, and is holding the preform. The forming unit that is without the detached side plane, is connected to a rotation table. The rotation table comprises a second forming unit wherein one side plane is absent. The forming unit containing the preform is transported to a filling unit by turning 180.degree. of the rotation plate. The 180.degree. rotation positions the forming body containing the preform under the filling unit, and brings the forming unit returning from the filling unit back under the forming table. Under the forming table, the third side plane including at its vertical outer edges two halve lateral sealing units is reattached thereby reassembling the forming body. The disassembled forming body comprising the preform is filled with mayonnaise. This is done by bringing down a filling nozzle that is connected to a pusher, together forming a filling unit, towards the bottom of the preform. The preform is filled with a bottom-up procedure. When the preform is filled, a wedge (115) is brought forward, pushing the upper part of the preform that is exposed to the outside, i.e. not facing a remaining side wall of the forming body, inwards into the preform. Then the end sealing unit, which is located at the upper edges (112) of the two side walls of the forming body mounted to the forming table (110) is activated. The two halves of the end sealing unit come towards each other to form the heat seal. When the two halves approach each other, the wedge (115) retracts, to prevent contact with the end sealing unit. When the end seal has been made, the two halves of the end seal unit return to their original position at their respective top edges of the two side walls of the forming body. Now the packaging sachet comprising mayonnaise has been formed. The lateral seal unit releases the packaging. This process proves to make the packaging sachet with a three dimensional shape comprising three side rim seals and a triangular front plane in an efficient and fast manner, suitable for industrial production.

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