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Digital technologies for developing ‘Responsive Roll to Roll manufacturing platform’

School of Engineering

About the Project

The Roll-to-Roll (R2R) technology (see figure 1) is at the heart of micro/nano scale production; it is used to fabricate a wide range of products that require high-precision (including wall coverings, lamination, heat exchanger fins) or vacuum processing using a wide range of printing technologies ( screen printing, hot embossing, flexographic printing, gravure printing and winding machinery to name a few). The materials used on R2R platforms range from polymer PET or PMMA substrates for food and packaging purposes, extremely thin and expensive glass substrates such as Gorilla Glass 2 (Willow Glass) for flexible electronics and metals (titanium and aluminium foil for radiator fins).

Compared to other manufacturing methods where the substrate is stiff, R2R employs a flexible substrate and even the slightest change in the production conditions can lead to accelerated defects thereby increasing production waste. Responsiveness in a manufacturing system refers to its ability to tackle “unforeseen events” arising out of internal or external perturbances to avoid defects. The scope of this PhD project is to understand responsiveness in a manufacturing system by taking web-tension as a prime example. The project will build a sample R2R platform (as a demonstrator) with rollers and advanced electrical control and will make use of the most robust digital tools such as digital image correlation, Fibre Bragg and vision systems such as a Camera-based micro-coordinate metrology.

This project aims to develop a platform to showcase the capability of digital tools in tackling the problem of perturbating in the web-tension occurring during the processing. This is analogous to saying “monitoring of tension in the rope-pulley during the climb of an elevator”.

On this project, the student will have a unique opportunity to gain familiarity with“high performance scientific computing on local and national facilities. The project will see increasing industrial collaborations with companies such as E&R, Gencoa and CPI and other Catapults as well as have a lot of travelling opportunities in the UK.

Requirements: Applicants must be of outstanding academic merit and should have (or be expected to gain) either a first class or an upper second-class Honours degree (or the international equivalent), or an MSc/MRes with distinction. Enthusiastic and self-motivated candidates from all countries with a background in either Engineering, Materials Science, Physics or Mathematics or a related discipline are encouraged to apply. Candidates should be able to demonstrate that they are highly motivated, have excellent communication skills and undertake challenging tasks using their own initiative.

Funding Notes

We are offering a number of funded PhD scholarships. These studentships are available to UK nationals & EU citizens and overseas applicants*. Those in possession of their own funding (e.g. via a non-EU government scholarship) are also welcome to apply for a place of study.

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