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Automated Robotic In-Process Inspection of Additive Manufactured Metal 3D Printed & Welded Components


Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering

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Dr Charles Macleod , Prof S.G. Pierce No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Traditionally 3D printing and welding of manufactured components and quality control inspection of such joints are distinctly separate processes in the supply chain, which ultimately limits productivity, throughput and increases re-work. The opportunity exists, through novel sensors, automation, robotics and control techniques to allow these practices to be combined directly at the point of manufacture for superior globally-efficient fabrication.

This proposal seeks to investigate the potential for real-time ultrasonic inspection of high-value industrial components predominately of substantial thickness and complex geometry. To achieve this overarching aim requires a fundamental step-change in ultrasonic sensor design and deployment for automation, investigating robotic delivery, part and transducer temperature limits, acoustic coupling, minimum defect sizing and therefore overall inspection accuracy.

The proposal is directly relevant to the many industrial sectors who readily encompass safety critical fusion welds at point of manufacture and asset modification/repair – (Nuclear, Aerospace, Oil & Gas, Marine, Defence & general High Value Manufacturing). It also has cross-cutting applicability to arc-based metal “3D printing” additive manufacturing (Wire & Arc Additive Manufacture (WAAM)) which are seeing increasing industry uptake in large area/volume fabrications.

The project will make extensive use of the Facility for Innovation and Research in Structural Testing and the student will have access to industry leading hardware and software including new automated robotic, sensing and welding equipment worth > £1.3 Million.

The student will work within an internationally renowned and growing team of diverse and multi-disciplinary researchers and engineers, physicists and mathematicians and will have the opportunity to work in collaboration and spend time on-site working with industry partners to gain a greater appreciation of the specific industrial challenges and opportunity for automated inspection during fusion welding. Additionally, the student will have the opportunity to attend and undertake a number of industry-leading robotic, inspection and software training courses.

Funding Notes

Funding is provided for full tuition fees (Home/EU applicants only), along with a minimum stipend of £15,500.00/annum and significant equipment and travel funds for the duration of the project.

To be considered for the project, candidates must:

• Possess an Upper second (2.1) UK BEng Honours or MEng degree, or EU equivalent, in a relevant engineering (Electrical, Mechanical etc.) or physics related subject

• Be a UK or eligible EU national and adhere to Research Council (RCUK) eligibility criteria

Candidates with a preference for practical industry focussed experimental research would also be desirable.


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