New Textbook Stays Abreast of Change

A recognized lecturer for industry and academia updates IoPP's latest resource.


Walter Soroka, Author
Fundamentals of Packaging Technology

"Working on this third edition, I'm reminded that it was never my goal to be an author and write a packaging textbook," says Walter Soroka in the preface to the third edition of his book, Fundamentals of Packaging Technology. Soroka's decision to write a textbook grew out of his need for a comprehensive teaching text suitable for entry-level students. In 1990, his handouts for the technical talks and industry short courses he had given became the handouts for the Institute of Packaging Professionals' (IoPP) 12-day comprehensive Fundamentals of Packaging Technology course. "It was IoPP's John Cudahy who inquired about the origin of the notes and then proposed that we design a packaging correspondence course based on them," says Soroka.

The course became the first edition of Fundamentals of Packaging Technology, the textbook for IoPP's Certified Packaging Professional exam. PMP's managing editor Kassandra Kania spoke with Soroka about the new edition of this widely used reference guide.

Why did you publish a third edition?

Soroka: The packaging industry changes at a remarkable rate. By the time the first edition was written and printed, there were two new plastics not mentioned in the book, and one process that I had stated was not used in packaging suddenly was. Technological changes were happening, not only in packaging but in publishing as well. I drew all 186 drawings for Edition 1 with pen and ink on a drafting board! While all chapters have been edited and improved, some areas received more attention than others. Mature [sectors] such as glass and metal packaging change slowly, and most changes were minor. Areas such as graphic art, printing, plastic materials, plastic molding methods, and production machinery and processes seem to change monthly and were essentially rewritten.

Why is the book important for the industry?

Soroka: It's important to any new packaging industry entrant, regardless of specialization. The book treats packaging as a material application science, dealing with the nature of each material. It covers how a material is produced, its application properties, common structural designs, general specification practices, and common testing and evaluation procedures.

There are other books that go into individual topic areas in more depth, but few books cover the basics of most packaging materials and processes, as well as discuss design and printing.

What was the greatest challenge in writing this book?

Soroka: Probably the greatest challenge was language and terminology. The packaging industry is not a great monolithic, organized body, but rather a large number of separate entities that have evolved independently. In doing so, they came up with their own terms. Some of these are archaic and have no descriptive meaning in the modern context. Some have variable definitions, and others are just plain confusing. When you write a textbook, you have an awesome responsibility, since students will take it for granted that the word you use is correct.

How has the book been received?

Soroka: Beyond our wildest dreams! When Edition 1 was published, we hoped that we could sell the 500 copies needed to cover production costs. It has been IoPP's best seller from the day it was launched. The book is now the basis for IoPP's Certified Packaging Professional certification program exam. Today, most universities and colleges teaching packaging in North America use it as their basic introductory textbook.

To purchase a copy of Fundamentals of Packaging Technology, contact Barbara Ciulla, 800/432-4085, ext. 105. To find out more about IoPP's "Fundamentals of Packaging Technology" seminars, contact Stan Zelesnik, 800/432-4085, ext. 108. For more information about IoPP, visit

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