Process modelling for control of product wall thickness in thermoforming

R. McCool, P. J. Martin, E. Harkin-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The present paper describes the results of an investigation into the modelling of plug assisted thermoforming. The objective of this work was to improve the finite element modelling of thermoforming through an enhanced understanding of the physical elements underlying the process. Experiments were carried out to measure the effects on output of changes in major parameters and simultaneously simple finite element models were constructed. The experimental results show that the process creates conflicting and interrelated contact friction and heat transfer effects that largely dictate the final wall thickness distribution. From the simulation work it was demonstrated that a high coefficient of friction and no heat transfer can give a good approximation of the actual wall thickness distribution. However, when conduction was added to the model the results for lower friction values were greatly improved. It was concluded that further work is necessary to provide realistic measurements and models for contact effects in thermoforming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-347
Number of pages8
JournalPlastics, Rubber and Composites
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 24 Nov 2006


  • Friction
  • Heat transfer
  • Modelling
  • Plug assisted thermoforming
  • Polystyrene


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