There are two common versions of Blow-Fill-Seal machines: shuttle BFS machines and rotary BFS machines.
First, let’s look at shuttle machines.
Originally all BFS machines were shuttle machines. As a result, there many more shuttle machines in the market. In a BFS shuttle machine, the extrusion of the resin to create the container happens at a different station than the filling and sealing. The machine “shuttles” the container back and forth between the forming and filling stations.
In a Rotary BFS machine, the entire form, fill, and seal process occurs in a single location within an enclosed chamber. This enclosed area is an ISO-5 environment.
BFS, whether through shuttle or rotary machines, is widely considered to be an advanced aseptic manufacturing process.
The relative advantages of each type of BFS machine will vary by model and manufacturer. But certain facts are common to all brands and models.
Shuttle machines generally take 8-16 seconds per cycle, which typically results in lower output. Their tooling costs less to purchase than the larger BFS rotary machines, and the tooling can be changed over much more quickly than with rotary machines. With shuttle machines it is also possible to use ‘insertion technology’ where a component is added prior to the molds being sealed.
In contrast, rotary machines can typically scale to much larger output volumes. Their cycle time is usually only 3-8 seconds. Typically, rotary machines have a larger upfront investment cost. However, this cost can be offset by its larger rate of production. This results in a very economical way to produce high volume of products with significant demand.
Keep in mind, these are broad generalizations. If you are considering installing a BFS line in your pharmaceutical facility, our experts can help your team learn more about each category of BFS machine and which machine model may be right for your needs.