Funded PhD Studentship – (Sponsored by Lloyd’s Register Foundation) Evolution of properties and composition of material powders in additive manufacturing: underpinning the safety and qualification of manufactured parts
Institution: National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC)
PhD Supervisor/s: Dr Carol Johnston, Professor Mike Fitzpatrick
Application Deadline: Ongoing
Funding Availability: Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with lead academic partner Brunel University, the universities of Cambridge, Manchester, Loughborough, Birmingham, Leicester and a number of leading industrial partners. NSIRC aims to deliver cutting edge research and highly qualified personnel to its key industrial partners.
The material quality in an additive manufactured part is critically dependent on the quality of the precursor powder used: alloying content; consistency within and between powder batches; and consistency of physical properties that will influence melting behaviour and possible subsequent segregation of alloying elements. A key question that has not been addressed is the re-use of powders. Most manufacturers and R&D teams insist on virgin powders being used in processing. This is a cautionary approach that is based on a lack of information on the quality of the powders that have passed through the machine without melting and the safety implications of re-using them. Given that, depending on the machine size and the size and geometry of the component being fabricated, the powder usage rate can be 10% or less, this is potentially a significant negative factor in the deployment of additive manufacturing (AM) processes.
Project Outline:
A candidate is required for a research studentship in collaboration with NSIRC on assurance of powder quality in additive manufacturing (AM), primarily for powder that has passed through an AM machine to determine whether powder re-use is detrimental to the properties of the final component.
This programme will look at assurance of powder quality in AM, primarily for powder that has passed through an AM machine to determine whether powder re-use is detrimental to the properties of the final component. The experimental work will have three strands: (1) manufacture of test samples in different materials by re-use of powder over several iterations; (2) mechanical property characterization; (3) detailed characterisation of powders using state-of-the-art neutron and synchrotron X-ray methods.
Four materials will be studied: titanium alloy, aerospace aluminium, nickel-base alloy and austenitic steel. The test samples will have strength and ductility measured, to evaluate if there is deterioration in properties as a consequence of the powder re-use. High-resolution diffraction can distinguish second phases even at these low volume fractions. For the alloys proposed, small-angle neutron scattering will be used. This comprehensive set of experiments of metallurgical characterisation coupled with mechanical property measurement will give a robust basis on which decisions can be made regarding development and assurance of protocols for re-use of powder in additive manufacturing techniques.
Areas of study will include: high-resolution powder diffraction; the novel “total scattering” technique; and small-angle scattering to determine the degree of damage introduced into the powders by repeated passage through the AM machine.
About University/Department:
Coventry University has a long tradition as a provider of education. Our roots go as far back as Coventry College of Design in 1843. In 1992 the University was set up under UK Government legislation, as laid out in the University’s Instrument and Articles of Government. The university comprises four faculties and one school, and manages a number of commercial subsidiaries that provide business services to local and national organisations. Coventry offers more than 130 undergraduate degrees and 100 postgraduate degrees over its four faculties. The university’s student body in 2015/16 consisted of 29,430 students: 23,465 undergraduates and 5,960 postgraduates. The Guardian University Guide 2017 ranks Coventry University 15th out of UK Universities.
Entry Requirements:
Candidates should have the potential to engage in innovative research; a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree in Material Engineering, Physics or Mechanical Engineering, or a Master’s Degree at minimum Merit level in a relevant subject area will be considered as an equivalent. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5) if applicable.

Administrative Contacts & How To Apply

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Funding Notes

This project is funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, TWI and academic partners. For Home students a £24k per annum scholarship is available which will cover tuition fees and provide a competitive enhanced STIPEND of £16-20kper annum for the duration of three years. Partial scholarships are provided for international students with funding up to £24k per annum for three years.

Funding Information

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