Qualifications & experience
To commence 1 of October 2021 this four year studentship is available for students who possess a first class or 2.1 (Honours), or equivalent EU/International qualification in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, or another relevant discipline. The candidate should have the following technical experience and personal skills:
- self-motivated individual with skills and/or interest in metals processing, or process modelling
- knowledge in solid state mechanics would be an advantage but is not essential
- a proactive approach, with initiative and ability to work independently
- ability to synthesise, summarise, and draw conclusions
- strength to cope with schedules and deadlines
- excellent organisational and communication skills
- excellent written and spoken English
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CNC-based flow forming is a manufacturing technology for precision forming of cylindrical components. The wall thickness of a cylindrical preform is incrementally reduced by stretching and extruding it out through the application of forming rollers which flow the material along a mandrel. It’s a highly controlled process that allows for the creation of long cylindrical components with varying wall thicknesses and complex geometries. However, adoption of flow forming by the aerospace industry is limited, primarily due to lack on detailed understanding on how aerospace grade materials respond to the process, and the applicability of the technique for complex geometries and critical components.
Various cylindrical titanium components for aerospace applications are currently manufactured from solid billets leading to a poor material utilisation and high cost. Flow forming of titanium offers significant economic benefits for the production of thin-wall cylindrical components. Typically preforms are elongated by a factor of 3-4 during flow forming thereby improving the material utilisation by the same factor. However, room temperature forming of titanium is challenging owing to the limited number of slip systems available in HCP titanium. Reports in the literature highlight the importance of initial microstructure and deformation heating to successfully flow form titanium parts without preheating/external heat source.
This four-year PhD study will address several key areas of knowledge on flow forming:
- a finite element model will be developed to guide experimental trials, design suitable tooling to control the stress state and maximise flow formability, and to utilise deformation heating for room temperature flow forming of Ti64 parts
- initial trials will identify reduction limits during one-pass flow forming; possibility of multi-pass flow forming with intermediate annealing to achieve a greater wall thickness reduction will be evaluated as well
- the effect of initial microstructure will be evaluated as well by using preforms with different starting microstructures (for example, preforms extracted from Ø100 and 400mm Ti64 bar as well as powder preforms)
- microstructure evolution during flow forming, mechanical properties and final geometry will be characterised to define and test post-forming processing in terms of machining and heat treatment; final mechanical properties will be compared to the material processed more traditional manufacturing methods
- a possibility of applying the same approach (through the use of deformation heating and careful design of flow forming tooling) for flow forming other alloys that are typically considered to be challenging for room temperature forming will be explored
- the information obtained in this project will be used to identify the geometric features that can be achieved through flow forming and to flow form several demonstrator components
- finally, cost analysis will be carried out to compare flow forming (including preform fabrication methods) to more traditional manufacturing methods for titanium components.
This fully-funded four year PhD opportunity is supported by the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and Boeing, and will cover Home Fees and Stipend. We'll only accept applications from international students who confirm in their email application that they're able to pay the difference between the Home and International fees (approximately £17,500 per annum). The Stipend is not to be used to cover fees. If you're unable to cover this cost the application will be rejected.
Professor Paul Blackwell, Dr. Jianglin Huang
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How to apply
Individuals interested in this project should email: firstname.lastname@example.org, along with the title of the project you are applying for and attach your most up-to-date cv aligned with the requirements of this studentship.
Due to funding restrictions this position is only available for UK or European Union candidates. Students from the EU will need to begin studies on the 1 of July 2021.
The funding covers tuition fees and tax-free annual maintenance payments of at least the UK Research Council minimum (currently around £15,600) per annum for 4 years. We'll only accept applications from international students who confirm in their email application that they are able to pay the difference between the Home/EU and International fees (approximately £17,500 per annum). The Stipend is not to be used to cover fees. If you're unable to cover this cost the application will be rejected.