Development of a multivariable online monitoring system for the thermoforming process

Peter J. Martin*, Tony Keaney, Raurí McCool

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The thermoforming industry has been relatively slow to embrace modern measurement technologies. As a result researchers have struggled to develop accurate thermoforming simulations as some of the key aspects of the process remain poorly understood. For the first time, this work reports the development of a prototype multivariable instrumentation system for use in thermoforming. The system contains sensors for plug force, plug displacement, air pressure and temperature, plug temperature, and sheet temperature. Initially, it was developed to fit the tooling on a laboratory thermoforming machine, but later its performance was validated by installing it on a similar industrial tool. Throughout its development, providing access for the various sensors and their cabling was the most challenging task. In testing, all of the sensors performed well and the data collected has given a powerful insight into the operation of the process. In particular, it has shown that both the air and plug temperatures stabilize at more than 80C during the continuous thermoforming of amorphous polyethylene terephthalate (aPET) sheet at 110C. The work also highlighted significant differences in the timing and magnitude of the cavity pressures reached in the two thermoforming machines. The prototype system has considerable potential for further development. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2815-2823
Number of pages9
JournalPolymer Engineering and Science
Issue number12
Early online date09 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)


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