Next-generation metal 3D printed structural elements using the state-of-the-art RoboAMLab

   Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

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  Dr C Buchanan  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD scholarship to develop next-generation metal 3D printed structural elements, which will offer an unparalleled strength increase and material reduction over traditional structural elements. The successful applicant will design the innovative components through advanced numerical modelling, print them using the new Robotic Additive Manufacturing Lab (RoboAMLab, at Imperial College London and destructively test them to determine their structural performance. The candidate will be based in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, supervised by Dr Craig Buchanan (Senior Lecturer in Construction, RoboAMLab Director).

Project details:

The global construction sector uses a quarter of all steel produced. Traditional manufacturing processes limit metallic structural elements to simple prismatic geometries, which leads to inefficient material usage as the available strength is not fully utilised. Metal additive manufacturing (AM, i.e. 3D printing) offers the potential for significantly reduced material usage and emissions. A team, led by Dr Craig Buchanan, has recently secured significant UK research council and industry funding to develop the Robotic Additive Manufacturing Lab (RoboAMLab), a new national facility dedicated to advanced large-scale WAAM (wire and arc AM, building up a part from layers of welded material). The RoboAMLab is supported by leading architectural, engineering, manufacturing and computing industry partners, along with national and international academic collaborators.

This PhD project will be among the first to use this new national facility to develop the next-generation of structural elements. New innovative forms will be designed using CAD and simulated using finite element modelling. The most promising designs will then be built using the RoboAMLab and tested in the world-class Structures Laboratory in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The numerical models will be calibrated using the measured performance from the experiments, and a wider range of geometries and loading configurations will be modelled. Finally new design guidance will be developed to allow architects and structural engineers to specify and adopt these next-generation high-efficiency structural elements in their projects, enabling the construction sector to transition towards a net-zero future.


  • A First Class Degree (or international equivalent) in engineering, mathematics or computing
  • A Masters level degree qualification
  • A solid background in structural mechanics and structural engineering is desirable
  • Experience of laboratory structural testing, numerical modelling, additive manufacturing (any material) and/or robotics is desirable
  • Excellent English communication skills, including strong writing abilities (for journal and industry publications) and excellent presentation skills (for industry meetings and public outreach)

How to apply:

Applicants are recommended to contact Dr Craig Buchanan ([Email Address Removed]) for further details, informal discussions and information about the project.

Applicants wishing to be considered for this opportunity should send the following application documents to Dr Craig Buchanan:

  1. Current CV including details of their academic record, and if possible, class ranking (2 pages maximum)
  2. Covering letter explaining their motivation, suitability, skills and/or experiences (1 page maximum)
  3. Contact details of two academic referees

Application via the Imperial College Registry is not necessary at this stage. Applications will be regularly reviewed until the position is filled.

Administrative questions should be emailed to [Email Address Removed].

Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

The studentship will provide funding for 3.5 years from October 2023, including tuition fees (at the home rate, for 2022/23 this is ~£6,690/year) and a tax-free stipend at the standard UKRI London rate (for 2022/23 this is ~£19,668/year). The successful candidate will receive the to-be-announced equivalent 2023/24 funding. This funding can also be used to partly support an international student.


Keywords: London; United Kingdom; Civil Engineering; Structural Engineering; Additive Manufacturing; 3D Printing; WAAM; Robotics

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