Quality inspectors at any packaging facility can reliably test packaging, components, and other products with technology on-site to determine if it is leak-tight. Anyone who packages or manufactures products like medicines or foods needs to be sure that the products are leak-tight. Even the tiniest of leaks can impact the functionality or quality of the product.
With a visual inspection, the tester looks for defects in the packaging. He or she will examine the external surfaces looking for delamination, holes, abrasions, and proper design. Observations are noted by hand.
Micro leak testing methods may involve the dry method or wet method. The dry method involves puncturing the container wall with a needle and watching for loss of internal pressure. Manufacturers or packagers can also perform dye tests to see if the applied dye makes its way into the packaging, indicating a leak. There are several other methods of testing; here we will discuss primarily the water basin test.
1. Food Packaging Is Comprised of Different Materials
Semirigid and flexible food packages are made up of plastic materials, and closed with double seaming or heat sealing. A hermetic closure prevents oxygen from breaking down the food, and stops microorganisms from getting inside. The integrity of the closure is important because moisture and food particles can get in the way of the seal, causing double-seam and heat-seal defects. Quality inspectors must exercise critical control via visual examination followed by micro leak testing methods.
2. What Packagers and Manufacturers Can Do?
There are different kinds of equipment that quality inspectors can use to test for leak-tightness. The equipment tests products with a high level of reliability, and should be used at the end of every quality production process. One type of test, which is carried out in a water basin, evacuates the air space in the chamber above the test specimen; a vacuum results. If the product is not leak-proof, filling gas or air will bubble out of the package. This is a reliable test that can also show exactly where the leak is, allowing the company to improve its product or packaging.
If the test specimen shows to be intact, then it can be reused, unlike with other test methods that employ puncture needles. In this case the product is destroyed following the test.
As a result, a water basin-type test is cost effective in that it leaves the product usable and the testing machine itself is easy to install and use. No special training is required to use it and depending on the machine, it doesn’t even need an electrical connection.
3. What Kinds of Products Are Tested?
Leak detection tests are done when a leak could put the quality of the product at risk. For example, packaging for pharmaceutical products or food goes under frequent testing. Other items that can be tested include lights and electronic components for the auto industry, air cushions, camera systems, and more. Additional methods are available depending on the leak detection equipment owned in the facilities.
The water method is generally used for all products that are packed as waterproof, or that are watertight themselves. The chamber itself poses a limitation when it comes to size, so anything larger than the chamber is not testable in this method. Typically, the test result is available within half a minute.
4. Can Tests Be Documented?
If the quality tester uses an electronically controlled test for a more standardized and faster test procedure, the tester receives the results automatically documented.
5. Leak Detection Methods
The most commonly used leak detection tests are vacuum package tests, bubble emission tests, altitude simulation tests, and dry chamber tests. Control systems are manual, semi-automatic, and fully automatic.