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Real time evaluation of weld quality during Friction Stir Welding (Industry 4.0)

Department of Engineering

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Dr Y Tian , Prof A Kennedy Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project


Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is a solid state joining technique which is being used in a variety of industries worldwide. Applications include the manufacture of trains, space vehicles, aeroplanes and cars. While the application of FSW Technology continues to grow, real time quality monitoring is needed for the automation of FSW. To date, very few significant contributions have been reported regarding in-process monitoring and adaptive control. Having an in-process real time quality monitoring system would significantly increase process acceptability, data exchange and integration with other systems, as well as reduce the need for post-weld destructive and non-destructive testing.


FSW is a joining technique that relies on localised forging and extrusion of the material to be joined around a rotating tool. There are many variables which affect making a successful joint: process parameters, tool geometry and wear, machine stability, condition of supply of the component, work holding etc.

This project will investigate how these variables affect weld quality, sensors will be selected and installed on the FSW machine(s) and used to assess the FSW environment and through collection and analysis of data establish if the process is in control and (non-destructively) if a good weld is expected.

Initially this would be through analysis of high frequency force and torque signals, however other signals such as sound, vibration, temperature etc. could be introduced.


The deliverables would be two fold

For industry
• An open loop non-destructive evaluation system which could be used to (a) monitor and qualify that the welds produced are to a standard or (b) detect unexpected occurrences such as tool breakage.
• A closed loop feedback system which could detect the onset of process breakdown and adapt the process parameters to re-establish good welding.

For Research
• An analytical system which would guide engineers in developing and optimising FSW tool design and process parameters for specific welding applications reducing development lead times.

About Industrial Sponsor
The Lloyd’s Register Foundation funds the advancement of engineer-related education and research and supports work that enhances safety of life at sea, on land and in the air, because life matters. Lloyd’s Register Foundation is partly funded by the profits of their trading arm Lloyd’s Register Group Limited, a global engineering, technical and business services organisation.
NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with, top UK and International Universities and a number of leading industrial partners. NSIRC aims to deliver cutting edge research and highly qualified personnel to its key industrial partners.
About the University
Lancaster University is a strong and dynamic university with a very highly regarded Engineering Department. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 91% of research quality and 100% of impact was assessed as being internationally excellent and world leading. Lancaster’s approach to interdisciplinary collaboration means that it has pre-eminent capacity and capability for the integration of Engineering with expertise in the areas of data science, autonomous and learning systems, intelligent automation, materials science and cyber security. The University is developing an ambitious growth plan for Engineering, including investment in staff, doctoral students, equipment and a new building focussed on research themes including Digital and Advanced Manufacturing. Lancaster is the current Times and Sunday Times University of the Year.

Candidate Requirements

Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree in:
• Engineering (Mechanical, Controls, Manufacturing)
• Materials science
• Physics

Candidates with suitable work experience and strong capacity in numerical modelling and experimental skills are particularly welcome to apply. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5), if applicable.
This collaborative project will involve the majority of time spent at TWI in Cambridge, but there is an expectation that the Student will spend a proportion of their time at Lancaster University.

Funding Notes

This project is funded by Lancaster University, Lloyds Register Foundation and TWI. The funding covers the cost of Home/EU tuition fees and a standard tax-free RCUK stipend for three years. Non-EU students are welcome to apply, but the funding will only cover the cost of overseas tuition fees and the applicant will need to self-fund their living cost for three years.


For further information, please contact Dr Yingtao Tian ( Interested candidates should send a covering letter with a copy of their CV to Dr Tian in the first instance.
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