A multistage system that consists of multiple stages for sequential operations to finish products is widely employed in modern manufacturing systems. Due to the characteristics of multistage systems, the product quality not only depends on operations in current stage but is also affected by operations in upstream stages. Most existing studies use Stream of Variation models to analyze error propagation and interactions among multiple stages in discrete manufacturing systems such as machining shops and assembly systems. In this paper, a multistage model based on the “Stream of Variation” concept is developed to investigate the tension propagation in a flexible material roll-to-roll manufacturing system. This modeling method uses a physical model coupled with a data-driven model to correlate the roller operation performance and product quality characteristics. Torque equilibrium analysis and Hooke’s law are employed for physical model and the censored regression model is used to explore unknown structures/parameters. A web unwinding process demonstrates the feasibility and prediction performance of the proposed model. The result shows that the proposed multistage model can serve as a virtual metrology method to increase system visibility, enhance health management capability and eventually improve product quality.

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