PhD position: modelling long-term behaviour of packaging seals – University of Twente, Enschede (the Netherlands)

////PhD position: modelling long-term behaviour of packaging seals – University of Twente, Enschede (the Netherlands)


According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2017), annually one third of the globally produced food for human consumption (1.3 billion tonnes), gets lost or is wasted. If we can prevent food waste, sufficient food is produced to feed the world, and improved packaging concepts will play a big role in achieving this, be it through improved packaging materials, better sealing, or better sensing that allows monitoring of decay processes occurring inside the package.

Sealing and closing of plastic packaging may be applied very widely, but micro leakages occur in 1-4% of the packages, and these leakages are hard to detect. This work package focuses on identifying the closing mechanism and developing a simulation model that can be used to design and engineer packaging and closing mechanisms, which is uncharted territory in open literature.


The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) is one of the five faculties of the University of Twente. ET combines Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our faculty has approximately 1800 bachelor and master students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates. The departments of the faculty cooperatively conduct the educational programmes and participate in interdisciplinary research projects, programmes and the research institutes: MIRA, CTIT, SBE and IGS.

The Department of Design, Production and Management aims at understanding and improving design processes and consequently also manufacturing processes. Focal points in this research field are the development of methods and tools for scenario-based, user-oriented product design against the background of the requirements and constraints of the entire product life cycle, and manufacturing facility and warehousing design. ‘Integration’ and ‘synthesis’ are important topics for design engineering research, the focus is on understanding and improving the design process irrespective of the product.

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Sealing and closing of plastic packaging is widely used; however 1 and 4% of the packs have micro leakages that are hard to detect during and straight after closing and cause food waste. The underlying closing mechanism are not that well understood and are expected to vary with the process parameters used: heat seal of plastics, plastic caps but also metal caps with plastic inlays or gaskets. For heat sealing there are pressure, time and temperature as important parameters, while for closing of a cap it is only the vertical pressure and/or the torque value. But these parameters are a function of material choice, dimensions and thicknesses, surface conditions, stresses in the material caused by processing, spoiled product on the spots that have to close the packs, to mention some. To what extent which parameter plays a role is not known.

The research focuses on identifying the most important parameters that determine the closing mechanism of plastic packaging by research of the interface of the bonding/closing materials. The goal is to develop a simulation model that can be used during design engineering of packaging and closing mechanisms. Literature about this topic is limited and therefore these issues have to be researched in practice, ideally starting with examples that are relevant to the industrial partners.

The first aim of this project is to find the reasons of failure and to understand which physical phenomena are relevant for the observed micro-failures of packaging seals in the field.The other research questions that have to be solved are: What measures can be taken in order to predict and improve the long term quality of a (heat) seal? This may help the industry to develop sealing systems that can ensure the long-term quality seal performance.

The project will be executed in cooperation with TU-Delft (post-doc research of two years, experimentally based) and simulations of the plastic behaviour will be an important part.


We are looking for an enthusiastic and creative researcher motivated to push the limits in packaging sealing. Applicants should have the following qualifications:

Master degree in polymer science, material engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, applied physics or another relevant discipline

  • Experience with material testing, analysis and polymer science
  • Knowledge of packaging, packaging materials and sealing mechanisms
  • Excellent English, communication and reporting skills
  • Comfortable to work both independently and in a team
  • A pro-active, independent, problem-solving, and result-oriented work attitude
  • Expected to publish and participate in international conferences


We offer a very challenging fulltime position for four years in an inspiring multidisciplinary and international environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda.

  • We provide excellent mentorship and a stimulating research environment with excellent facilities;
  • You will be given the opportunity to acquire teaching experience;
  • You are offered a professional and personal development program within Graduate School Twente;
  • A starting salary of € 2.222 in the first year and a salary of € 2.840 in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 29 holidays per year in case of full-time employment.


Minds for Innovation is the recruitment partner for this M2i organised project.

For more information on the vacancy, please contact Prof. Roland ten Klooster. E:

The complete recruitment process is managed by Prof. Roland ten Klooster. For questions or problems with the application process, please contact Jolanda de Roo. E:, T: + 316 572 913 50.


To apply, please submit:

  • a detailed CV
  • proof of English language proficiency (if available)
  • the abstract of your thesis (one page and if available)
  • two references
  • your preferred position
  • a letter of motivation in PDF file.

Please apply by June 29th 2018

2018-06-20T02:10:11+00:00 May 13th, 2018|