Plug force monitoring for the control and optimization of the thermoforming process

G. W. Harron, E. M.A. Harkin-Jones, P. J. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Thermoforming processes generally employ sheet temperature monitoring as the primary means of process control. In this paper the development of an alternative system that monitors plug force is described. Tests using a prototype device have shown that the force record over a forming cycle creates a unique map of the process operation. Key process features such as the sheet modulus, sheet sag, and the timing of the process stages may be readily observed, and the effects of changes in all of the major processing parameters are easily distinguished. Continuous, cycle-to-cycle tests show that the output is consistent and repeatable over a longer time frame, providing the opportunity for development of an on-line process control system. Further testing of the system is proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part E: Journal of Process Mechanical Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 22 Oct 2003


  • Plug force
  • Plug-assist
  • Polypropylene
  • Process control
  • Thermoforming


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