Vacuum packers are used throughout the world to prolong the shelf life of food items and to provide more efficient and streamlined storage options through reducing the volume of the package. People do it with items of clothing to save space and companies in every country use it to package food that will last for months.
In terms of the food industry, vacuum packers are common in every factory to remove any atmospheric oxygen from around the food which in turn inhibits the growth of any bacteria or fungi on the food. This process is key as it extends the shelf life of the product albeit animal products or fruits and vegetables.
Outside of the food industry, vacuum packers are just as important. Obviously, their purpose is not to remove atmospheric oxygen to extend shelf lives of products but to reduce overall package size and volume. Once the air has been vacuumed from the package, the bulk of the item will be reduced, allowing for more efficient storage and transport of goods.
There are two main types of vacuum packers used today: single chamber vacuum packers and double chamber vacuum packers. As is obvious from the name, single vacuum chamber machines contain just one chamber and so are more suited to smaller packages. The entire item is placed inside the chamber in some form of plastic bag and then the lid is closed. Following this, all of the air is sucked from the chamber, forcing the plastic bag to shrink. Before the operator can open the chamber again, a hot seal is placed on the bag to prevent air entering the bag again. Any items can be used in a single vacuum packing chamber, including solids and liquids.
Double chamber vacuum packers contain a lot more size and capacity for vacuum packing items – whether liquid or solid. For this reason, medium or larger items or packages must be sealed using a double vacuum chamber machine rather than a single. The mechanism is much the same, with the item being placed inside the chamber in a plastic bag, closing the lid and removing the air. All double vacuum chamber machines typically have assisted-opening lids or automatic lids to aid the operator. They work much faster and more efficiently than the single vacuum packing machines, covering a greater distance in a shorter time. Double chamber vacuum packers are commonly associated with the packaging and storage of animal products (meat and dairy), confectionery (chocolate) and empty cans.
One method of vacuum packing isn’t necessarily better than the other – it simply depends on what size of item you are hoping to vacuum pack. If the item is small and compact enough to fit inside the single chamber vacuum packing machine, then that should be the one you should use. If it doesn’t fit or is slightly larger, a double chamber vacuum packing machine should suffice.
These are not the only options on the market when it comes to vacuum packing technology. Another common option available to different industries is the automatic belt vacuum packing machines. As is in the name, the machine works along a form of conveyor belt inside, passing the product along and vacuum packing it as it goes. As with the other two vacuum packing methods, the item is placed in a bag or wrapped pouch into the machine and once the lid is closed, the atmospheric air is removed, vacuum packing the bag. This mechanism of vacuum packing is more commonly found in processed meats and larger pieces of dairy and animal products.
The last form of vacuum packing which you may come across comes in the form of the rollstock vacuum packing machine. This is a much larger, longer machine and differs from the first three options because it leaves some gas inside in the packaging. This is a common technology used with things like crisps and salad packaging – replacing the atmospheric oxygen with either nitrogen or carbon monoxide to preserve the food’s shelf life and form.