Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Blissfully Simple Product, A Simple Review For It! The AIE-200 Impulse Sealer Works!

The Good: Durable, Easy to use, Useful
The Bad: Annoying to replace elements
The Basics: A great, durable impulse sealer that experience has shown me can work for decades if properly cared for, the AIE-200 is an excellent impulse sealer for small businesses!

Back when I was in high school, I worked at a craft store and while there, I used an impulse sealer to seal up plastic bags of glitter, jewelry, etc. Over two years of use, I became so familiar with how to use the device that it is no surprise that when I went into business for myself and discovered I had plastic bag sealing needs, I went for the exact type of impulse sealer that I had used at Craft Service. That impulse sealer - and the one I have been using for the last decade since I went into business myself - is the AIE-200 Impulse Sealer.

The AIE-200 Impulse Sealer is a very simple device which is designed with a single, simple purpose. This sits on a desk or tabletop and seals plastic bags using heat generated from an electric current. The AIE-200 Impulse Sealer is made of three essential pieces: the cord, the base and the handle. The cord is a 63" electrical cord which plugs into any standard three-prong outlet, so this device is grounded for proper use. It is remarkably efficient with the way it uses electricity as well, as it does not use any energy until the handle is depressed.

The base of the AIE-200 Impulse Sealer is thirteen inches long and three inches wide. It sits three and a half inches high on the desktop. The cord attaches to the back of the base, near the joint for the handle. The front has the controls of the AIE-200 Impulse Sealer and those looking for high tech interfaces will be surprised and possibly confounded by the simplicity of the controls on this device. The front has a simple knob numbered from one to eight above which is a red LED. The numbers represent plys of plastic or polypropylene bags one is looking to seal and the high the number, the longer the impulse sealer remains active when it is activated.

The top of the base is where the action of the AIE-200 Impulse Sealer occurs. There are two metal bars which hold down the Teflon tape at the peak of the device. The AIE-200 has an active top area of eight inches long. Those eight inches are from the hinge to the screw that attaches the element to the top of the AIE-200, and they are covered with the non-stick Teflon tape. This makes for a very easy area for one to use when sealing to know exactly where they ought to put the item they want sealed.

The handle is the activating element on the AIE-200 Impulse Sealer and it is ten inches long and connected to a hinge at the back of the base. The handle itself is made of the same steel as the base, with a 2" in diameter plastic knob which is at the opposite end of the handle as the hinge. The handle is attached to the base with a hinge that keeps the handle angled at about forty-five degrees to the base. The underside of the handle has a metal bar and a rubber bar below that. The rubber bar is curved slightly to take the element of the base in when it is pressed down.

To use the impulse sealer, there is ridiculously little one has to do. First, plug the AIE-200 into a three-pronged socket. Then, bring the item you want sealed to the AIE-200 and arrange it so that the end you want sealed is laying on the Teflon tape in the center. Then, depress the handle until the handle is pressed against the base (or as much as it can be while the item being sealed is inside!) and the light on the front of the base illuminates. At that time, the AIE-200 will buzz as well. When the buzzing stops and the light turns itself off, usually within two seconds, lift the handle (or simply let go of the bar) and gently remove the now-sealed bag.

The AIE-200 impulse sealer works by sending an electrical current through the element on the base, below the Teflon tape. The Teflon tape and the rubber on the bar on the handle are both designed not to stick to the melted polypropylene or plastic and if one uses the device at the right setting, it will create a seal that is about a millimeter wide for the full length of the bag you want sealed. If one has the AIE-200 at the proper settings for the bag thickness, cleanup is simple as there is nothing to clean up. The sealed bag peels right off the Teflon tape and one is ready for the next sealing project. If one has the device too hot for the material they are trying to seal, the plastic or polypropylene which is being sealed will melt and split. When that happens, residue may remain on the working surface of the AIE-200. To remove it, simply rub the Teflon tape and it ought to ball off in little pills. Nothing sticks on the tape . . . unless the tape gets lacerated, in which case it ought to be replaced as melted plastic will attach itself to the edges and tear the fibers in the Teflon tape.

The lowest possible setting ought to be used to seal the bags and excessive heat and melted residue will cause the Teflon tape to wear prematurely. This can be a trial and error process as one finds the right setting for the item they want sealed. However, starting at 1 and testing the impulse sealer at settings on a practice piece may make it easy to find the right setting. As soon as the item becomes sealed, that is the number setting to keep the AIE-200 on for that material. So, for example, I seldom use more than a setting of 2 - 2 1/2 for the polypropylene bags I seal my trading card sets in . . .

. . . Or at least, that's what I used to do. Honestly, after years of using the AIE-200, I discovered it was a bit more durable than my boss at the craft store ever gave it credit for. I started sealing my bags at a 3 1/2 setting. At that setting, the heat not only seals the polypropylene bags, but it also makes it easy to pull on the excess bag and sever it from the sealed bag. In other words, while some more fancy models have cutters or the bags I seal would usually be left with excess poly that I would need to trim off (lest it look unsightly), I discovered early on with the AIE-200 that the heat itself can both seal and ever with no adverse consequences.

The nice thing about the AIE-200 is that the impulse sealer does not use any electricity until one actually activates it. When it is plugged in, there is no risk of burns or electrocution because the AIE-200 does not complete the circuit until the handle is fully depressed. This makes it a very energy-efficient impulse sealer. As well, it is generally durable. Each AIE-200 comes with two replacement element kits, which include a different element and Teflon tape covers, as well as instructions that make it very easy to replace them on the AIE-200. That process is a little annoying, but not difficult.

In a decade of using my own AIE-200, I have only had to replace the element once and the Teflon tape twice, so this is a very durable product and so long as the item one is looking to seal has less than eight inches of length on the side that needs to be sealed, this is a wonderful impulse sealer.


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© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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