Sealing is a crucial aspect of maintaining the quality and shelf life of a food product or medical device. A well-sealed package protects the enclosed product from contamination, thus preventing decomposition and maximizing its shelf life. However, as the product goes through the distribution cycle, it endures physical and environmental stresses that may affect its seal’s integrity and cause a leak. 

Any leaks in the seal will expose the product to foreign contamination, which reduces its shelf life. Leaking renders it unsafe for consumption. It may also hurt your company’s reputation since the customer most likely won’t purchase your products again once they notice that the one they bought had a broken or defective seal. Fortunately, you can perform various package seal integrity tests to evaluate your seals’ integrity. 

Test the Integrity of a Package Seal

Package seal integrity testing helps identify any leaks or defects. It also measures the force needed to break the seal by simulating the stressful handling and distribution situations of a food product or medical device. These tests inform you how effective your package is, which gives you confidence that your products will remain safe after leaving your warehouse or production premise. 

There are two ways to test the integrity of a package seal; non-destructive and destructive testing.

  • Non-destructive testing 

Non-destructive seal integrity testing does not cause damage to the product or package during the testing procedure. The product can still get returned to the production line after testing. Examples of non-destructive seal integrity tests include visual inspection. 

  • Destructive testing 

Destructive seal integrity testing damages the product or the seal during the testing procedure. You can’t return the tested product to the product line once done. This method works best for sampling and can measure the force needed to break a seal. The fact that destructive testing damages the packaged product does not mean you should avoid it. Think of it as sacrificing one product to save the others. 

Examples of destructive testing include bubble leak testing, vacuum decay testing, and altitude simulation testing. The seal integrity testing equipment offered by Seal-Check can perform all three. Destructive testing determines how much force it takes for a package seal to leak, which helps you make necessary packaging adjustments. 

How Does a Package Seal Integrity Testing Equipment Work?

Different seal integrity testing equipment work differently, depending on the test method and type of seal. In the case of the seal integrity tester by Seal-Check, the testing procedure can either be to pressurize the product or remove air from it. This integrity tester can check the strength of a seal using the bubble emissions test. It can utilize the following testing procedures:

  • Bubble leak testing

Bubble leak testing involves injecting air into a product using an air compressor and inserting it into water. If you notice any bubbles released from the product, then it has a leakage. Alternatively, you can inject air and then closely listen for air leaks. 

  • Altitude simulation testing

This procedure involves simulating stressful situations that may arise during product distribution, for example, when transporting products over mountainous regions with high altitudes. The seal integrity tester introduces pressure around the sealed product and tests for leakages. 

  • Dry chamber test

The dry chamber test introduces a vacuum to the environment around the sealed product. In this case, the environment is a leak detector tank with no water. The pressure difference causes the sealed product to bulge and air to leak from the product. You can then measure the amount of leakage. 

The Bottom Line 

Defective product seals not only reduce the quality and shelf life of a food or pharmaceutical item, but they can also damage the reputation of your business if customers find broken or defective seals on your products. The good thing is that you can use seal integrity testing equipment to evaluate how good your package seals are. These testers also check a seal’s ability to withstand pressure differences to prevent leakage.