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Automated Packaging, with Polythene

Polythene is a brilliant packaging material for manual packaging operations. It’s quick and easy to work with, works well with heat sealing – and is available in a huge range of sizes and types. But when a company grows beyond a certain size and needs to scale operations up, automated and semi-automated packaging lines become the only way to do a lot of packaging work in a short space of time.

How does polythene fit into the automated packaging process – and which machines does it work with?


Wide shot of an automated packaging line, with people working the system. Apples are being packaged onto trays for distribution


How do automated flexible packaging machines work?

Automated flexible packaging machines are used to package all kinds of products; everything from apples to auto parts. They place items inside bags, or create packaging from film rolls.

Here’s a brief overview of how these machines typically work. Bear in mind, these steps can vary depending on the machine and the type of packaging being produced – but this general process is common to most automated packaging machines.

Material feeding

The first step in the process is to feed a flexible packaging material, like polythene, into the machine. This can be done either manually or automatically, depending on the machine’s configuration. In fully automated systems, a film roll (or pre opened bags on a roll) will continuously feed the system.


When using film roll or centre fold sheeting, the machine next forms the desired shape – such as a pouch or a bag. This is usually done by folding the material, and sealing it into shape with heat sealers. Crisp packets, while not usually made of polythene, are made this way; from a single sheet, cut, folded and heat sealed in the right shape.


The next step is to fill the package with the product. This can be done by volume, quantity, or by weight – whichever meets the needs of the end user.


Once the package is filled, the machine then seals it shut, protecting the contents inside.

Cutting and finishing

The machine then trims the package down to size, separating it from any excess material. Finally, the finished package exits the machine, ready to go on to the distribution phase.

Using polythene in automated packaging machines

Polythene can certainly be used in automated packaging machines – and often is, in a process like the one described above.

It’s used as sheeting, for form fill and seal machines, or as bags for fill and seal machines.

It can be used in automated vacuum sealed packaging, although the process differs from machine to machine, and whether multiple types of packaging are being used (for example foam or HDPE under trays).

Pre opened polythene bags on a roll are typical in automated systems, and are compatible with industry standard fill and seal packaging systems.

Polythene can be used to package just about anything in an automated system – from soil to food, from bolts to building materials, and everything in between.

Is polythene the best material for automated packaging?

Not necessarily. There is no “best” packaging, really – just what’s best for the application at hand. Polythene is often an excellent choice for many kinds of automated packaging processes, and also for manual packaging lines, because it’s cheap, strong, light and versatile. It offers excellent protection and is moisture proof; but it is gas permeable and not as heat resistant as other plastics. It is almost totally inert – but polythene can react with some chemical compounds.

For these reasons, it’s not a blanket “best” packaging material, or useful in every scenario. Still, it’s the most widely used packaging material in the whole world – and the uses for it continue to expand all the time.

Polythene film roll and bags for automated packaging

Talk to our friendly team of experts at NPF Packaging and start your order for polythene film roll or polythene bags for automated packaging. We’ll deliver polythene packaging products to your exact specifications, with custom tints, prints and branding available. Get a quote now, or call us on 01773 820415.