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Motion control solutions - Vertical Form Fill Seal (VFFS)

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Vertical Form Fill Seal (VFFS) machines range from simple low-demand systems to high speed continuous process, highly flexible systems requiring servo performance, with some systems tailored to unique packaging styles. As such, a broad range of solutions are required to meet the demands of variable package size, printed material, sealing process changes, and special features such as zip insertion..

ABB can offer solutions at each end of the scale, from simple stepper implementations to advanced high performance servo systems with rapid reconfiguration, operator safety and energy efficiency in mind.

This example above shows a continuous motion VFFS machine in which the material continues to feed while sealing and crimping is in progress. This approach requires the sealing jaws must move with the material during the seal and return ready for the next seal and 'in register' with the printed material. Like many modern machines, packaging especially, the motion is often electronically synchronised, sometimes mimicking the mechanical linkages that drives now replace. As a result electronic gearing, CAM motion, clutch simulation, advance / retard functionality is common place.

Related motion features :

Homing to a Datum

Homing to a datum (which can be avoided using motors with absolute feedback reducing start-up time)

Registration Control Fast latch inputs feature on our drives and motion controllers and ensure precise crimp / seal operation, to the printed material.  
Target Position Change Smooth change of target position on the fly to correct final position of the film feed and jaw motion CAM Profiling CAM motion can be used for continuous smooth motion electronically geared to material feed. CAMs can be downloaded, stored, and modified on demand.  
Electronic Gearing Electronic geared motion including CAM, virtual clutch, advance / retard corrections to synchronize axes as required Flying Shear Segments FLY segments provide constant acceleration geared motion segments and can be used for crimp motion in continuous feed machines as a simpler alternative to complex CAMs  


Possible solutions for this machine type include:

  • Simple stepper or analog solutions to provide entry level machine designs
  • Advanced real-time Ethernet servo solutions
  • MotiFlex + Mint Machine Module - A unique servo solution with no external controller and DC energy recovery for high duty CAM based reciprocal jaws
  • AC500 PLC with IEC61131, PLCopen Motion, EtherCAT performance and choice of MicroFlex e150, ACSM1 and ACS355 drives ranges

Select or browse possible solutions below


  • Analog / Stepper
  • Ethernet motion
  • Intelligent drives
  • PLCopen
    motion solution

Simple analog / stepper solution

Simple systems can be achieved using a combination of stepper drives and / or analog controlled drives. NextMove ESB-2 can provide scalable solutions in this category with its mix of axis interfaces and features.

  • NextMove ESB-2 is capable of controlling 7 axes in total, 3 x analog and 4 x stepper.

  • IO can be expanded using CANopen

  • Registration for printed material can be handled by the 4 x high speed latch inputs of the NextMove controller

  • If an upstream Ethernet connection is required for a networked machine, consider using NextMove e100 which is also capable of analog servo and stepper control.

  • MINT programs can be ported to NextMove e100 or the plug-in MINT controller for MotiFlex drives offering different hardware solutions for different machine demands.

For more information on NextMove motion products click here

Analog and stepper motion control

Scalable solution using real-time Ethernet

NextMove e100, combined with MicroFlex e100 and/or MotiFlex e100 drives provides a real-time Ethernet based control solution for up to 16 axes of coordinated motion. Alternatively it can be used as a stepper / analog controller with Ethernet connection for factory networking.

  • 1 to 16 axes of interpolated / coordinated motion

  • Mix stepper, analog and real-time Ethernet drives

  • Onboard digital and analog I/O which can be expanded by CANopen

  • High performance motion functionality with high-level Mint programming

  • Single point of programming and configuration / remote access via Ethernet

  • MINT application code can be ported between NextMove controllers and MINT module for MotiFlex e100 to provide scalable solutions.

For more information on our e100 real-time Ethernet products click here

POWERLINK solution offers scalable performance using e100 products

Unique solution using intelligent drives to solve the complex motion functions. This solution can still be combined with a PLC for logic / recipe handling if preferred.

High duty continuous feed systems involve reciprocal jaw motion that regenerates energy. In this situation systems can benefit from higher power servo control and DC bus energy sharing.

  • The plug-in MINT module for MotiFlex e100 creates a 5 axis (4 Ethernet 1 analog) control solution using drives only, saving on value panel space and cost of external controllers.

  • MotiFlex e100 drives feature a simple DC bus interconnection provides energy absorption from the jaws vertical motion and operate from 180 - 460 V AC for international use..

  • Up to 4 x e100 Ethernet drives and an additional analog controlled axis can be combined to solve high performance continuous motion VFFS machines.

  • Ethernet and Fieldbus connectivity can be added to factory floor connection.

  • MINT application code can be ported between the MINT module and NextMove controllers to provide scalable solutions

The MINT module is inserted into one MotiFlex e100 which then controls the rest of the system. MicroFlex e100 can be added for lower power axes (1 to 3kW operating on 105 - 250 V AC).

For more information on our intelligent drives click here

Intelligent Drive solution saves space and cost

AC500 PLC solution with IEC61131 and PLCopen motion. High performance, highly modular and scalable solution for leading edge machine solutions

The ABB AC500 PLC range combines IEC 61131 programming, PLCopen motion functions and a highly flexible / scalable architecture using EtherCAT with ABB drives for a high performance package.

  • Standards based programming with IEC61131 and PLCopen

  • Real-time EtherCAT performance

  • Distributed I/O expansion including IP67 and wireless systems

  • MicroFlex e150 105-250 V AC and ACSM1 460 V AC and ACS355 for auxiliary axes of less demanding tasks such as conveyors..

  • Ethernet and Fieldbus connectivity can be added for system interfacing to upstream and downstream processes

For more information on AC500 and PLCopen visit our product pages here




Application notes:

The following application notes are relevant to this application and provide more detailed motion description and exmaple software solutions for the core motion tasks:



Vertical Form Fill Seal application note (using Mint motion control)

Further application notes are available.