Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) of Metals: Overcoming Challenges for Industrial Adoption

   School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

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  Prof A Moore  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project Overview:

Metal Additive Manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3D printing of metals, stands at the cusp of revolutionizing various industries, including automotive, aerospace, and healthcare. This technology's ability to produce intricate, bespoke metal structures layer by layer presents an unparalleled design freedom and the promise of significant advancements in material efficiency and component performance.

However, the broad application of metal AM faces critical challenges, such as the need for improved process control to eradicate build errors and enhancing productivity to make the technology cost-effective. Issues like porosity and residual stresses in printed parts can compromise mechanical properties and dimensional accuracy. Consequently, there is a pressing need for advanced research to move beyond the current requirement of part-specific print development to ensure quality and reliability.

The Opportunity:

In this project, in collaboration with leading industrial partners, you will have the chance to work in state-of-the-art experimental research facilities. The primary goal is to develop a deep understanding of the in-process mechanisms leading to build defects in metal AM. By integrating this knowledge with sophisticated modelling approaches, this project aims to revolutionize the field, enabling the direct manufacturing of safety-critical, high-quality metal parts from digital files, thereby eliminating the need for trial-and-error in build development. This research will also focus on expanding the capabilities of powder-bed AM processes for increasingly complex geometries and new material types.

Your Role:

As a PhD candidate, you will:

• Conduct cutting-edge research to address the challenges in metal AM.

• Collaborate with industry experts and academic mentors.

• Develop innovative solutions for real-world manufacturing problems.

• Publish research findings in high-impact journals and present at international conferences.

• Be part of a dynamic, interdisciplinary team pushing the boundaries of manufacturing technology.

We Are Looking For:

• Applicants must have (or expect to have) a first-class Masters level degree (MEng, MPhys) in engineering, physics or a related discipline and a desire for hands-on laboratory-based research supported by modelling.

• Some practical experience of additive manufacturing , measurement instrumentation, finite element (FE) modelling or coding (Matlab, Python, Labview) is desirable (but not essential).

• Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills.

• Effective communication skills, both written and oral. Benefits:

• A competitive stipend, covering living expenses and tuition fees.

• Access to world-class research facilities and professional development opportunities.

• Opportunities to engage with industry leaders and participate in international conferences.

• A supportive academic environment within a prestigious institution.

Research Environment:

Heriot‑Watt’s Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (IPaQS) is a thriving environment for PhD research, having a total of 160 academics, postdocs, PhD and EngD students working full‑time in the general photonics field. The Institute hosts an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Applied Photonics, providing PhD students with an attractive environment for study, as well as enhanced training opportunities. The Institute’s research has led to five prestigious Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Fellowships to individual academics, six early career Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowships, a Royal Society University Fellowship and four Royal Academy of Engineering research chairs. Heriot‑Watt is based in a modern environment on the outskirts of Edinburgh (Scotland, UK), with excellent transport links to the centre of one of Europe’s most exciting cities.

The Institute provides a supportive, collaborative environment which values inclusivity and is committed to creating and sustaining a positive and supportive environment for all our applicants, students, and staff.

For more information on post graduate research in IPaQS visit and

To Apply: To apply, please email your CV to [Email Address Removed]. Please include a short statement highlighting any experience you have with additive manufacturing, optics, measurement instrumentation, FE modelling or coding.

Engineering (12) Mathematics (25) Physics (29)

Funding Notes

Competition Funded Project (Students Worldwide)
Duration: 3.5 years (Full Time)
Start Date: September 2024
Stipend: £18,622 / year (tax free) plus tuition fees


P. Bidare, I. Bitharas, R.M. Ward, M.M. Attallah and A.J. Moore, “Fluid and particle dynamics in laser powder bed fusion“, Acta Materialia 142 107-120 (2018)
I. Bitharas, N. Parab, C. Zhao, T. Sun, A.D. Rollett and A.J. Moore, “The interplay between vapour, liquid, and solid phases in laser powder bed fusion”, Nature Communications 13 2959 (2022)
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