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(A*STAR) 3D Printing for Custom-Built Implants: Identifying Key Structure-Performance Relationships

Department of Materials

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Dr R Lindsay , Dr X Chen No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Motivated by an ever-growing demand for patient customisation, the overall aim of this project is to investigate the potential of 3D printing for the fabrication of custom-built medical implants. More specifically, we will target a titanium-based alloy (Ti-alloy), which is already widely employed as an implant material in its more traditional forged form.


Increasing life expectancy is driving the need for enhanced health care solutions, so we can all live more comfortably for longer. Besides hugely improved pharmaceuticals, innovation in materials plays a key role in this arena. For example, medical implants, ranging from stents for heart attack patients to artificial joints for victims of falls, are central to maintaining an excellent quality of life. Concerning the future of such implants, rapid fabrication of patient-specific solutions is a highly appealing target, e.g. manufacture of a hip implant on site in a hospital and immediate insertion. Such local fabrication facilities would speed up a patient’s recovery, enhancing their experience and minimising costs. Moreover, they would be invaluable to areas of the world where access to suitable supply chains is fraught with difficulty.


One promising candidate for on-site custom-manufacturing of implants is 3D printing, which is well suit to high-value/low-volume production. However, the properties of 3D printed materials are often remarkably different to those produced by more traditional routes. Hence effort is required to understand these differences at the micro-to-nano scales, as well as their impact on macro-performance. This project targets this area, focusing on a common Ti-alloy. The surface structure, chemistry and relevant properties of 3D-printed and more traditional forged Ti-alloy samples will be compared to identify key differences and similarities. On the basis of these results, routes to enhance functionality through both optimisation of the 3D printing recipe and surface engineering will be explored. Given a positive outcome, potential industrial stakeholders will be approached for commercial exploitation.

Entry Requirements:

Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science, engineering or technology.


UK applicants interested in this project should make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. International applicants (including EU nationals) must ensure they meet the academic eligibility criteria (including English Language) as outlined before contacting potential supervisors to express an interest in their project. Eligibility can be checked via the University Country Specific information page ( 

Some restrictions apply to applicants from certain Asian countries. In general, students from Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan are eligible to apply for the programme. Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications from south-east Asian countries such as Singapore, China and Malaysia.


If your country is not listed you must contact the Doctoral Academy Admissions Team providing a detailed CV (to include academic qualifications – stating degree classification(s) and dates awarded) and relevant transcripts. 


Following the review of your qualifications and with support from potential supervisor(s), you will be informed whether you can submit a formal online application.


Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website

Funding Notes

Funding covers tuition fees (UKRI rate) and stipend for four years. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of scholarships that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme. Candidates will be required to split their time between Manchester and Singapore, as outlined on


1. Structure of a Superhydrophilic Surface: Wet Chemically Prepared Rutile-TiO2(110)(1×1), J.P.W. Treacy, R. Lindsay et al., J. Phys. Chem. C 123, 13463 (2019).
2. Toward optimizing dental implant performance: Surface characterization of Ti and TiZr implant materials, M. Murphy, R. Lindsay et al., Dent. Mater. 33, 43 (2017).
3. An ex situ study of the adsorption of calcium phosphate from solution onto TiO2(110) and Al2O3(0001), M. Murphy, R. Lindsay et al., Surf. Sci. 646, 146 (2016).
4. XRD and EBSD studies of severe shot peening induced martensite transformation and grain refinements in austenitic stainless steel, H. Liu et al., Mater. Charact. 168, 110574 (2020).
5. Effects of Robotic Hammer Peening on Structural Properties of Ni-based Single Crystal Superalloy: Dislocation Slip Traces and Crystallographic Reorientations, Metal. Mat. Trans. A, 51A, 3180 (2020).
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