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Automation of metallographic microstructural analysis to support deployment of automated image analysis

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, December 30, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Are you looking to gain direct industrial experience whilst developing your specialist research area of interest?

The manufacturing processes alter the microstructure of materials, which determines their mechanical properties. This makes reliable microstructural analysis important to the design and manufacture of components. However, the analysis of complex microstructures, such as Ti6Al4V, is difficult and typically requires expert materials scientists to manually identify and measure microstructural features. This process is often slow, labour intensive and suffers from poor repeatability. This project, addresses these problems by proposing a new set of automated techniques for microstructural analysis. Digital image processing algorithms will be developed in the way that can isolate individual features of microstructural images, such as grains and alpha lath colonies. A segmentation of the image is produced where each region is a grain or colony within the image, from which morphological features such as; grain size, volume fraction of globular alpha grains and alpha colony size can be measured. The measurement techniques will be developed for obtainment of similar results to existing manual methods while drastically improving speed and repeatability. The benefits of the proposed approach when measuring complex microstructures will be presented by comparing the proposed techniques with existing image analysis software. Using a few parameter changes, the proposed techniques are effective on a variety of microstructure types and both scanning electron microscope (SEM) and Optical microscopy (OM) images.

The software looks into most complicated type of microstructures, i.e. transformed (deformed) Ti-6Al-4V and commercial pure Ti. These materials are widely used in aerospace, medicine, sport and architecture sectors. The AFRC has delivered a lot of projects for Boeing, Timet, Barnes and other Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, where Ti-6Al-4V and commercial pure Ti were the main research materials. Therefore it is evidenced about high demand for these materials amongst main players in different industrial sectors.

The aim of the proposed doctorate is to develop the image analysis tool that could be intelligent enough to fulfil the requirements from both academia and industry sectors.

This doctorate allowing the Tier 1 members and Scottish companies to exploit advances of the developed software:

Enhance the quality of the metal products provided by Tier 1 members and Scottish companies through the enhanced analysis of the microstructural features.

- Speed up the microstructure assessment routine within academic and industrial media;
- Avoid human error factor occurring during manual assessment of the microstructures;
- Increase the applicability of the microstructural analysis for different type of microstructural features.
- Accelerate the development of new materials and application of them for manufacturing processes in order to increase the
competitiveness of the Scottish industry.

The automated software will contribute to academic and research area. Bigger volume of data (number structural elements) could be accurately analysed within short time period. It is important not only for standard microstructure analysis, but also for materials with different type of microstructural elements, that really hard to characterise with good statistics. It will open up new possibilities for researchers to look deeply to materials nature (mechanics) and develop the fundamental dependences between microstructure and material properties.

Funding Notes

Applications are welcome from all who possess or are about to obtain a first class or 2.1 BEng (Hons), MEng or MSc degree, or equivalent EU/International qualification, in a relevant discipline.

Applications from Home, Rest of UK and EU students will receive funding of the home fee and stipend.

International Students are welcome to apply but should be aware of the additional funding requirements and will have to provide evidence that they can pay the difference in fees of circa £16k per annum.

Please email Dr Dorothy Evans at , with the project title and attach your most up-to-date cv.

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