While different cap types and sizes are seemingly unlimited, it takes a surprisingly low number of capping machines to cover a majority of caps. Of course, unique and rare container tops may require custom capping machinery. For almost all other caps, a small group of capping machines will “seal” the deal.
Spindle capping machines are probably the most popular capping machine produced for the packaging industry. These cappers use sets of matched discs to spin caps down onto bottles or other containers as they pass through the capping area on a conveyor system. Normally, three or four sets of discs will be used to gradually tighten caps. Elevators or vibratory bowls assist these continuous capping machines by delivering caps to each individual bottle, leaving the operator of the machine to simply replace bulk caps as needed. These capping machines can handle a wide range of screw type caps, including flat caps, sports caps, trigger sprayers and many more. Many different containers, including F-style containers (think of anti-freeze, a long narrow container with a handle), can be run on the spindle capper and multiple containers require minimal changeover. The versatility and ease of operation are two factors that make this capping machine popular.
Chuck capping machines are similar to spindle cappers in that they work with screw caps. Chuck cappers normally consist of a metal chuck and a rubber insert matched to the cap size. Once a bottle is in place under the capping head, the chuck descends to apply consistent torque to each bottle and cap combination. Automatic chuck cappers may include multiple chucks to increase the capping machine speed. Handheld, semi-automatic and tabletop chuck cappers will usually cap one bottle at a time. While one chuck and chuck insert can handle different cap sizes, a facility running both small and large caps may require multiple chucks and/or chuck inserts. Chuck cappers are ideal for flat caps, but some modification to the chuck and inserts allow for other screw type caps to be run as well.
SNAP CAPPERS AND LID PRESSERS
Snap cappers and lid pressers are both used for non-screw type tops. Rather than being torqued onto the bottle, snap type tops are simply applied using pressure and normally held in place by a lip on the container. The pressure is applied via a declined belt or a simple plunger depending on the application. Paint cans may work well in a lid presser, while plastic containers for some food and beverage products would use a press on belt to avoid damaging the containers themselves. Snap cappers can be constructed very similar to spindle cappers, with the spindle sets replaced by the decline belt, allowing snap caps to be sealed continuously as well, caps permitting. Spindle cappers and snap cappers can also be combined on one capping machine to handle an even wider range of cap types and sizes.
An ROPP Capper (Roll On Pilfer Proof Capper) is somewhat of a specialty capper. ROPP cappers use specially designed knives to thread and seal tops onto containers. The most common product for an ROPP capping machine would be topping off a bottle of wine. Different bottle types and sizes may require different sets of knives when using this machine, and these packaging machines will not handle the variety of seals run by spindle and chuck cappers. However, some ROPP cappers can be manufactured to include a chuck type capping head to expand the realm of caps that can be run.
Each of the capping machines discussed briefly above are available in different levels of automation, allowing this group of packaging machines to handle not just a wide variety of caps and bottles, but a range of production levels as well.