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(A*STAR) Next generation (ultra-)high-strength ductile alloys through additive manufacturing

  • Full or part time

    Prof G Burke
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The aim is to design and manufacture the next generation metastable alloys by an additive manufacturing approach, i.e. by selective laser melting, so as to yield simulatenously (ultra-) high levels of mechanical strength and ductility not achievable by conventional metallurgical approaches. The key to achieve this goal resides in the presence of metastable phases (normally <20 vol.%) within very fine complex microstructures. The metastable phase transforms progressively under mechanical loading (either during component manufacturing or in-service) into a harder stable phase and/or is susceptible to the continuous formation of a high density of twin defects. This is the case of the metastable gamma-iron phase in high-performance automotive steels such as TRanformation Induced Plasticity (TRIP) or Twinning Induced Plasticity (TWIP) steels, or the beta-titanium phase in aerospace titanium alloys. Despite the potential material’s benefits, the conventional manufacturing processes of bulk quantities of material do not provide the opportunity to tailor the stability of those phases adequately. Besides that, the metastable phase behaviour tailored for low strain rates does not correspond to its response under the faster strain rates characteristic of industrial forming processes.

In this project, you will manufacture the next generation metastable alloys instead of selective laser melting (SLM),based on a systematic alloy design using thermodynamic and ab initio calculations, coupled with density functional theory simulations. SLM is a (near-)net shape technology based on the sequential deposition of a pre-alloyed or premixed powder on a selected substrate, and the subsequent powder melting using a high power laser following a computer-controlled path. Its layer-by-layer approach permits to control and vary the microstructure as is being built. The SLM process is also characterised by fast cooling rates from the melt, therefore having the potential of retaining significant amounts of high-temperature phases in a metastable state in the alloy structure.

You will first optimise the SLM process parameters to produce standard metastable alloys, and compare their microstructure and techanical performance with those currently in the market. This will constitute the foundation to design and produce new alloy chemistries and SLMed microstructures, ultimately producing hierarchical heterogeneous microstructures with controlled phase metastability for optimal local TRIP/TWIP effect. Those novel microstructures will be characterised by complementary electron microscopy techniques across length scales, and their mechanics tested in situ in synchrotron X-ray experiments under deformation.

This project is part of a collaboration between the University of Manchester and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (A*STAR SIMTech). The first part of the project will be at the University of Manchester’s Materials Performance Centre, where you will complete the project-relevant training courses and characterise conventional SLMed alloys. You will then be based at SIMTech in Singapore for two years where you will design and manufacture new metastable alloys. You will return to Manchester to focus on the mechanics of the SLMed microstructures and also to write up your thesis.

Funding Notes

This project is available to UK/EU candidates. Funding covers fees (UK/EU rate) and stipend for four years. Overseas candidates can apply providing they can pay the difference in fees and are from an eligible country. Candidates will be required to split their time between Manchester and Singapore, as outlined on View Website.

The successful candidate should have an undergraduate degree in materials science, physics or mechanical engineering. Previous knowledge in metallurgy, alloy manufacture or scientific computing would be an asset.

How good is research at The University of Manchester in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials?
Metallurgy and Materials

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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