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Develop flow drill fastening solutions for joining formed sheet to low ductility aluminium components for assembly of body structures for electric vehicles

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, April 15, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

The automotive industry is developing electric cars to reduce emissions. This is creating new engineering challenges, such as creating crash safe battery boxes as part of the car body structure. Car manufacturers are investigating using extrusions and castings in combination with press formed sheet, this new design trend has created a need for new joining solutions. Extrusions and castings have low ductility so are difficult to join using the standard self-pierce riveting method widely employed for joining press formed sheet.

Spinning fasteners at high speed while inserting them overcomes the problem of low ductility. Friction stir fastener insertion technology has been developed and a new type of fastener called a flow drill screws are now widely used to join sheets to extruded box sections. For electric cars there are new joint stacks required that do not have extruded box sections, for example joining sheet to casting. This has created a market need for a new flow drill fastener technology to be developed, this may potentially be achieved by combining self-pierce riveting technology with flow drill screwing technology.

A PhD research project has been created to experiment with different and novel designs of fastener, the aim being to develop a new fastener geometry that can be made into a new fastener product range to meet this new and rapidly growing market demand. The successful candidate will conduct lab testing work to insert fasteners into material stacks and examine the results, therefore the ideal candidate will enjoy practical work, have good practical skills and good report writing skills. CAD design work to develop new fastener designs and FE simulation of fastener insertion is also likely to be undertaken.

A fully sponsored PhD studentship is available at the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering of the University of Sheffield, UK. The present project is a joint research work between the University of Sheffield and Atlas Copco Industrial Assembly Solutions (IAS) division. The IAS division includes a company that makes flow drill fastener insertion equipment and a company that makes self-piercing fasteners and insertion equipment, the PhD project will involve collaborative research with both companies. For background information visit:

The Candidate
• A relevant connection with the UK, usually established by residence - Standard studentship rates (covering maintenance and Home/EU fees).
• An upper second class honours degree, or a combination of qualifications and/or experience equivalent to that level - The successful candidates for this position must hold a good relevant undergraduate or MSc degree (Civil/Structural/Mechanical Engineering, Computational Mechanics, Materials Science).

The successful candidate must start on the 28th of September 2020

Next steps
All enquiries about project, funding mechanism, and application process should be e-mailed to Professor Luca Susmel () – personal webpage: Application deadline: 15/04/2020.

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Civil and Construction Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.80

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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