Whether it be spices, protein or milk powder, drink mixes, or non-food powders like enzymes or chemical additives, powder packaging remains largest packaging equipment market, comprising almost a third of our packaging machine installations. With convenience products becoming increasingly popular, we expect the powder packaging market to grow even more in areas like pre-packaged spice blends to add to meals, instant coffee and drink mixes, and portable protein powders. When it comes to powder packaging, there are three main things your packaging equipment manufacturer needs to know.
– Free-Flow or Non-Free-Flow
A powder product is considered free-flowing when its particles are not cohesive. Examples of this are granulated sugar or table salt, which ‘flow freely’ when dispensed. Adding extra pressure usually will not compact these types of powders, and they usually don’t hold their shape when manipulated.
A powder product is considered non-free-flowing when the particles are cohesive. Examples of this are brown sugar or powdered milk, which tend to hold their shape when manipulated and can be compacted under pressure.
Dusty Products Require Special Powder Packaging Considerations. Consider a non-free-flow powder product like flour. When flour is dispensed, inevitably a dust cloud is formed. Anyone who has ever worked with this type of product knows how far these particles can travel, and how they cling to almost any surface. Now consider this in the context of powder packaging machinery; serious mechanical issues can occur as a result of loose airborne particulates. A dust extraction device or dust hood will help remove airborne particulates at the source. High-speed continuous motion packaging, maintains a constant downward airflow which helps direct stray particulates into the package where they belong.
The bulk density of a powder product conveys both the flowability of the powder and how much it may compact when under pressure. A basic formula used to compute bulk density is total mass divided by total volume, although there are other methods and devices that can compute bulk density to a higher accuracy.
Free-flowing, dry products like granulated sugar usually will not compress very much and have a low bulk density. Non-free-flow, cohesive products like brown sugar have a higher bulk density that will get even higher when compacted.
When these three factors are taken into consideration, you can provide the best packaging solution for your powder packaging equipment.