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Additive manufacturing of Functional Footwear Components

Project Description

Application details:
Reference number: MP-BV-1907
Start date of studentship: 1 October 2019
Closing date of advert: 25 August 2019

Primary supervisor: Professor Bala Vaidhyanathan
Secondary supervisor: Dr Jane Clarke

Loughborough University

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014). You will be working alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will receive comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice. Find out more:

You will join Prof. Vaidhyanathan’s Advanced Ceramics Research Group investigating the use, design and additive manufacture (AM) of materials. This is a significant and exciting opportunity to join world-leading researchers from Loughborough University in collaboration with Texon Management Limited on the development of next generation smart footwear components.

Full Project Detail

It has long been recognised that abnormal foot morphology or structure can have a significant influence on tissue stress and injury occurrence. This type of issue can lead to increased risk of lower limb injury if left untreated, as they can propagate through adjacent joints in the ankles, knees, and hips. One of the solutions being considered is the use of additive manufacturing (AM) methods to produce products that can offer patient specific fit, customised support and pressure relief, depending on the patient profile and medical diagnosis (e.g. diabetics).

Early stages of this research will cover conventional manufacturing methods for foot orthotics, as well as recent ventures into the use of AM. Methods of patient data capture and processing will be explored. Tasks involve a thorough literature review, powder and suspension making for AM, component fabrication with and without functional devices, consolidation/sintering and performance evaluation.

Moving forward, the project will cover the use of lattice-based structures to provide support and to alter the properties and performance of foot orthoses, also the potential integration of embedded sensors to measure a range of data. The feasibility of using various manufacturing methods including 3D printing for the efficient manufacturing of smart footwear parts that include embedded functional materials that respond to external stimuli will be investigated. AM methods in conjunction with laser/microwave/infrared/UV processing will be explored. This also involve working on a research programme alongside industry.


We seek a highly motivated individual with materials fabrication skills, knowledge of AM processes and characterisation of 3D-printed materials. Preferably candidates will have experience in making material formulations, rheological characterisation of polymer/ceramic suspensions and materials characterisation techniques such as SEM, TEM, XRD. Experience with CAD drawing and 3D printing is beneficial.

Entry requirements

Students will hold, or expect to gain, a 1st or high 2:1 in a relevant discipline (Materials Science/Engineering, Materials Chemistry, Manufacturing, or other related engineering/science disciplines), or a relevant Master’s degree marked greater than 65%. Experience in one or more of the following is advantageous: 3D printing of polymers/ceramics, material characterisation and AM processes.

Contact details

Name: Professor Bala Vaidhyanathan
Email address:
Telephone: +44 (0)1509 223152

How to apply

All applications should be made online at Under programme name, select ‘Department of Materials’

Please quote reference number: MP-BV-1907

Funding Notes

This three-year studentship starts in October 2019. The stipend is £15,009 per annum plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. International (non-EU) students may apply but only your fees are covered.

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