Thermoforming is a technical term that embodies heating of plastic sheet until it is softened, stretching the sheet against a solid cool form, holding the formed sheet against the cool form until it has hardened, removing the sheet and trimming the formed part from the unformed plastic around it. Thick sheet is formed into permanent products such as automotive interior elements and refrigerator liners. Thin sheet is formed into products such as rigid protective packaging.
This work represents the latest in a series of technical works describing the thermoforming process. The book is in English. It is 327 pages in length plus a single-page glossary and a seven-page subject index. There are 42 chapters including a 5-1/2 page introduction to the technology. The book is published by John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ, in its Polymer Engineering and Technology Series. It retails for about $150.
The stated author of the book, Dr. Sven Engelmann, is Distinguished Director of Polymer Technology, Gerhard Schubert GmbH, Crailheim, Germany. However, this is not a single author book but a compendium of coauthored essentially stand-alone chapters. All but one of his collaborators is from Europe (The Netherlands, Germany, Austria). Only one non-European company is represented. Practitioners are fully aware of the differences in European and non-European thermoforming technologies that may skew the applications of the technology elsewhere. Essentially, each chapter represents an overview of its title. Often, however, overviews lack technical information or, on occasion, no information at all. As an example, there is an 8-page review of fuel tanks that consists of nearly one page of text and seven pages of mold actions. There is no specific information on materials, cycle times, and downstream handling. The very important and very technical topic of multilayer sheet for barrier packaging is 2-1/2 pages long.
Probably the most galling aspect of a book on Advanced Thermoforming is the author's view of other books on advanced thermoforming. On page 1, he states "[O]ften technical connections and contexts are describing by using a lot of mathematics...so that a large part of the target group...quickly loses interest." He continues that "reading books on technology and engineering can be fun." And further, "[A] lot of technology has become so complex and abstract that it is no longer possible to understand the connections through mere reflection or observation." The author is correct in opining that the advanced thermoforming practitioner will never be able to understand the fundamentals of, say, radiative heating of thin-gauge plastics through `mere reflection or observation.' But to believe that it is necessary to take the `fun' out of `fundamentals,' in order to amuse his reader, is inane. Unfortunately, the `casual observer,' to whom he addresses his Advanced Thermoforming effort, needs to look beyond the fun to the fundamentals to be competitive in the real world. And yes, Doctor Engelmann and cohorts, equations and references form the foundations for all those mere reflections and observations.
In short, the effort, described in the title as Advanced Thermoforming, is false and misleading. It should have been titled Current Thermoforming Technology. It provides the reader with little, if any, technical information, advanced or otherwise. There are no references, technical or otherwise. There are no equations, descriptive or otherwise. There are few, if any, tables of preferred methods of operation. And there are little inter-chapter connections.
There are several thermoforming books on the market that present advanced technologies (with equations and references and extensive tables). Any tyro who purchases this book believing that he/she will learn advanced thermoforming methods will be snookered. And any practitioner who purchases this book seeking new approaches to understanding the technical interface between plastic sheet and its environment will certainly consider returning it to the publisher.