Tube filling machine

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Unfilled tube made of aluminum
Modern tube filling machine

The tube filling machine (also known as tube filler ) is a special filling machine with which, for example, cosmetic products in the industrial sense are automatically filled into tubes . The distinction between “ manual ”, “ semi-automatic ” and “ fully automatic ” is made on the basis of the feeding of the containers and the subsequent treatment of the containers (cleaning, filling, closing, labeling, further processing).

Tube filler

Old tube filling machine from the GDR (TUFÜMA 50)
Manual tube filling device, approx. 1960

Tube filling machines for filling liquid to viscous products into tubes have been built since the turn of the century. The company IWKA is often referred to as the "inventor" of the tube filling machines. In the last few decades there is only one other German manufacturer in Germany, Gustav Obermeyer, who has been responsible for the construction of tube filling machines in the GDR since the 1950s within the Council for Mutual Economic Aid .

Operating principles

Tube fillers are among the most mechanically complex machines in which different functions are combined in the smallest of spaces: Nowadays, two types of functional principles are to be mentioned: the rotary transfer machine with a clocked turntable for transporting tubes to the individual stations and the oval machine in which the tubes be guided in format holders with an oval band.


In principle, tube filling machines always have the same structure: provision of the filling product, input of empty tubes, alignment according to the print image, filling station, sealing, embossing and output. Additional stations can be cleaning, barcode readers, nitrogen gas flushing, labeling and more. Labeling can also be added upstream. Printing in the thermal transfer process directly before filling and sealing is viewed as a future technology.

Product delivery

Products of different viscosities have to be provided at the filling station. Funnels with different equipment can be used for low-viscosity and liquid products. Mention should be made of an agitator, double walls for heating or cooling, and level control for filling contents. Highly viscous products are usually provided with an extrusion unit that conveys the product directly into the filling unit under pressure. Direct feeds are also possible using a barrel pump.

Tube feed

For tube feeding, depending on the required performance, manual input, the input magazine the size of a delivery box, the feed elevator with a large storage capacity or complex feed systems with robot technology are possible. As a rule, the tubes are guided from the storage container via a chute into a set-up prism; the tubes are placed in holders depending on the diameter. In the case of robot technology, a direct input is made using a handling system.

Tube alignment

Before filling, the tubes are aligned so that the tube can then be closed so that the front is always at the front. The marking (pressure or tactile mark ) required for this is visible on the upper end of the plastic tubes, which is recognized by a sensor and thus the tube is brought into the correct position. With aluminum tubes, the marking is covered by the fold.

Filling station

Filling cylinder, filling piston, rotary valve and filling tube are components of the filling station, which can also be manufactured in a heated version. A complete system of components takes into account the requirements of hot filling. Instead of a funnel, the filling material from the drum emptying can be connected directly to the rotary valve via a connection piece . In certain applications, the filling machine is driven by a servo motor. Most manufacturers lift the tubes under the filling tube before filling in order to be able to lower them in a targeted manner during the filling process. This ensures a bubble-free filling from the bottom up. Closing valves on the filling pipe, paired with a blow-off device, ensure that the filling line is properly separated at the end of the filling process. There are two different methods of filling the well-known multicolored toothpaste . With the so-called depth stripe method, the different colors are evenly filled into the tube in the appropriate proportions from the bottom up using a special mixing nozzle. With the surface strip method, the surface color (approx. 10%) is first filled into the soil. Then the basic color is filled in. Mixing takes place through a special nozzle that is integrated in the tube.


Depending on the material of the tubes, they are welded (plastic or plastic laminate) or folded (aluminum) after filling. When welding, the proven and highly developed hot air technology is usually used, but newer methods such as laser or high-frequency technology are also used. Italian producers in particular still use the outdated method of pressing jaw technology (heated pressing jaws press the plastic tube together), which often leads to so-called "ears" at the ends of the sealed seam.

Plastic tubes with hot air technology

Plastic and laminate tubes are usually closed with hot air technology. The hot air generator is mounted on the holder plate and dips into the tube in order to plasticize the inner edge precisely defined and delimited. This is followed by the press jaws, which close the tube with pressure. The heated layers of plastic melt together. At the same time, the batch number and / or the expiry date are usually embossed in a raised manner using integrated number types. Before the sealing seam is trimmed, additional cooling jaws are used at high machine speeds in order to prevent the plastic, which may be too warm, from pulling during trimming.

Closing head for aluminum tubes

With folding flaps, various folding shapes can be made for metal tubes. The fold shape determines the number of folding stations. The double fold, the triple fold and the saddle fold are common. The tube length, printing and control mark are determined accordingly for correct alignment. If the fold is embossed on both sides (date and batch number), the saddle fold is usually formed by folding again in the opposite direction after the second fold (double fold).

Embossing and cutting the tubes

In the cutting station, the optical result of the tube fold is further improved by cutting the sealing seam at the upper end. In addition, the corners can be rounded off or a curved seam can be created. In the chemical industry, the so-called “ Euro hole ” is often punched into the sealing seam so that the tubes can be hung on sales displays in the store. The resulting snippets are sucked into a collecting container. Embossing tools for aluminum and plastic tubes that can be interchanged are available for marking the tubes. The one- and two-sided signing of the tubes can contain twelve or more digits.


The tubes are dispensed with the fold first or with the cap first. Either a slide or a conveyor belt can be used here. The tubes are often sent to another station in order to professionally provide them with an outer packaging.

Individual evidence