Available EngD Projects


Enhanced Heating Strategies for Composites Manufacture

This project represents a very exciting opportunity for a Research Engineer to join a company at the forefront of technology development in composite materials and manufacture, helping to develop new, innovative products for a variety of interesting applications. The project will be based at Heraeus Noblelight on the Cambridge Science Park, where the Research Engineer will join a team of industry experts in the field of heating systems for composites manufacture.

The project will be focused on optimizing heating strategies for composites manufacture. Current heating systems, including infrared lamps, hot gas torches and lasers, are not optimized for composites manufacturing processes such as Automated Fibre Placement, Filament Winding and Thermoforming. This project will provide the theoretical and experimental basis for developing the most appropriate heating strategy for each process.

Heraeus Noblelight has invented and developed a breakthrough heating system based on their Xenon flashlamp technology. This system is capable of providing pulsed, broadband energy for the heating of composites in a range of manufacturing processes and has been shown to have significant benefits over existing heating sources. The technology has been developed over 5 years in collaboration with the National Composites Centre in Bristol and is now breaking into the composites market. The project will concentrate on understanding and comparing this new technology with existing heat sources, and guiding the further development of the Xenon flashlamp heating system.

To achieve these goals, the Research Engineer will require a combination of theoretical and practical skills. They will undertake a detailed study of the available heating technologies for a range of composites manufacturing processes and build an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each one. This may involve designing and implementing physical laboratory experiments, creating analytical and numerical models to describe the processes involved, testing and evaluating composite materials and developing an in-depth knowledge of the complex physics-based principles underlying the processes. In addition to the research-based activities, the Research Engineer will be expected to contribute fully to a skilled and highly motivated team of experts, taking part in customer trials, design review and dissemination activities.

The successful applicant will be a UK/home student with a 2.1 or higher degree in computer science, applied mathematics or engineering. Prior experience in FE analysis would be an advantage. Further details about the EngD programme and the taught component can be found on The EngD Programme page.

Industrial sponsor: Heraeus Noblelight Limited (http://www.heraeus.com) Cambridge Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 0GQ, United Kingdom
Academic institution providing supervision: University of Bristol
Closing date for applications: Applications are considered as soon as they are received, and the position will be allocated as soon as a suitable candidate is found.
Stipend: £20k p.a. for four years
Project starting date: ASAP


Scott Bader

Advanced Resin & Composites Application Development

Scott Bader and UoB

Scott Bader Co Ltd. is actively researching new polymers for fibre reinforced composite applications. Two areas of current interest are:

  • Processing – supporting the industry needs to reduce production cycle times and developing new resins for use in processes other than the typical infusion and Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM), commonly employed with Scott Bader resins.
  • Health and sustainability – developing resins with reduced atmospheric emissions during processing, reduced hazards during use, improved capability for end-of-life product recycling, reduced reliance on oil derived raw materials and reduced whole-life environmental impact of composite materials.

Each topic is at a stage that much of the fundamental polymer development is already understood through existing projects within Scott Bader. Consequently application development is needed, with respect to performance and processing, forming the basis of a portfolio of related projects for the Engineering Doctorate researcher. Dedicated resource from the R&D Polymer development team is available at Scott Bader’s headquarters in the UK where purpose-built technical facilities provide R&D as well as complete evaluation, testing and application support. www.scottbader.com.

Industrial sponsor: Scott Bader Ltd (http://nccuk.com/), Wollaston, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire NN29 7RL
Academic institution providing supervision: University of Bristol
Closing date for applications: Applications are considered as soon as they are received, and the position will be allocated as soon as a suitable candidate is found.
Stipend: £20k p.a. for four years
Project starting date: ASAP


Exploring and understanding the role of material, manufacturing process and fibre architecture on impact containment efficiency for composite containment systems

Rolls-Royce - UoB

Study concerns composite materials, methods of manufacture and fibre architecture for the containment of impact threats across a range of engine sizes.  A comparison of impact capabilities and behaviour and other key attributes including: cost, weight and producibility, will be made.

The study will be based on representative sub-component feature impact tests and their simulation. It should also datamine publically available information for other attributes/considerations and data from subject-matter experts in Rolls-Royce. The composite options available will be compared to best metallic offerings as a benchmark.

All EngD students are supervised by an academic and an industrial supervisor and are registered at the University of their academic supervisor.

Rolls-Royce is a Power Systems company: for more than a hundred years Rolls-Royce have been providing power for aircraft, ships and land applications. Their vision is to provide “better power for a changing world”. Better, because their customers need their systems to become more efficient all the time as they respond to the growing demand for all types of power in a fast changing world.

Rolls-Royce are best known for their aero engines, that power many of the world’s most advanced passenger jets, like the new Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. But, there is much more to the company than that. Rolls-Royce also produce low–emission power systems for ships, some of which are designed by Rolls-Royce. They power a wide array of land vehicles: ranging from trains to combine harvesters, and build engines that can generate electricity.

Industrial sponsor: Rolls-Royce Plc (http://www.rolls-royce.com/)

Academic institution providing supervision: University of Bristol
Closing date for applications: Applications are considered as soon as they are received, and the position will be allocated as soon as a suitable candidate is found.
Stipend: £20k p.a. for four years
Project starting date: ASAP


Sigmatex (UK) Limited

Optimisation of weaving parameters and weave architecture for 3D woven composites with geometry

3D weaving has the potential to reduce manufacturing costs and improve product performance in comparison to conventional broadcloth materials. Complex parts (such as a fan blade) is made with up to 1000 plies with each ply having different geometry and orientation. This makes preforming with 2D materials a complex and time consuming task and require sophisticated ply-kitting equipment.  3D weaving has the potential to produce a near-net preform in one piece with a significant reduction in labour cost and manufacturing cycle time. However, 3D woven preforms are not ideal for parts with complex (single/double) curvatures.  The main focus of this project is to develop 3D weaving technology for parts with complex curvatures such as fan blades.  This would involve local variations to the weave design, selective tensioning of certain stuffers and binders, selective modifications to inter-tow spacing in the region that require large in-plane shear.  In addition to 3D weaving technology, the project will focus on analysis of tow geometry especially in the regions of large curvature and predicting in-plane properties using FE analysis. The work will also look at how weave architecture, shed settings and geometry could be optimised for specific applications. X-ray CT will be employed to measure three-dimensional geometry of tows in the region of interest.

Sigmatex develops and manufactures carbon fibre textiles for composite material applications. From global locations, Sigmatex supplies woven carbon fibre textiles including 3D, spread tow, innegra, recycled, unidirectional, multiaxial, and 2D woven solutions across a broad spread of industries, ranging from the world’s top supercar manufacturers to high performance leisure brands and most of the world’s major aerospace companies.  In all cases, Sigmatex helps its customers to achieve improved product performance through lightweight strength. Sigmatex was established in 1986 and has specialised in helping customers create cutting edge carbon fibre textiles since then.

Sigmatex has a very well equipped technical department which works with customers to develop advanced and innovative carbon fibre textile solutions. Materials are designed to meet all quality requirements, specifications and performance criteria. Areas which affect materials performance can be tailored and include fibre orientation, crimp, drapeability, thickness and resin permeability. This approach, which has led to the development of products such as 3D woven carbon fibre, results in an improvement in the performance, reliability and cost of carbon fibre structure fabrication, and enables the use of carbon fibre in new applications. These textile solutions often require a dynamic, innovative approach to design for manufacture, in addition to expert knowledge about carbon fibre, which is the core strength of Sigmatex.

Industrial sponsor: Sigmatex (UK) Limited (http://www.sigmatex.com/)

Academic institution providing supervision: University of Manchester
Closing date for applications: Applications are considered as soon as they are received, and the position will be allocated as soon as a suitable candidate is found.
Stipend: £20k p.a. for four years
Project starting date: ASAP


Albany Engineered Composites (AEC)

Advanced 3D woven light weight composites structures for future automotive high rate programmes

Albany Engineered Composites (AEC) is the world leader in the design, development and manufacture of advanced 3D composite structures for aerospace applications with global operations spanning two continents and three countries. AEC has grown from a small business unit to a dynamic, $200M+ revenue business in less than a decade, building its competitiveness on technology, its people’s composites know-how and being able to access resources of the $800M parent corporation, Albany International Corp. (NYSE: AIN).

Due to its impressive technology uptake onto aerospace engine programmes for the top selling A320Neo and B737Max airplanes, and suppliers position onto keys aerostructures programmes, the business is experiencing an unprecedented period of strategic growth with expectations to more than double in size by 2020. As an integral part of its future business growth and market differentiation, AEC is actively pursuing the use of this type of 3D advanced woven composites structure for light weight automotive applications. AEC is planning to establish a satellite R&D facility in UK, it is anticipated that this R&D facility will eventually become a European center of excellence for the design, development and manufacture of advanced 3D woven composite structures for the UK and European automotive markets.  A key element of this center will be a pilot line for developing manufacturing processes for potential applications.

The main objectives of this project are to develop a high rate/low cycle time, affordable molding process for converting 3D woven carbon fiber preforms into composite components for automotive structures, and to support the development of a UK based R&D pilot line which utilizes the developed technologies. To make the transition from aerospace to automotive applications, alternative molding processes must be developed to ensure compatibility with automotive cycle times and cost/performance targets. These processes must be suitable for use with 3D woven preforms and must be capable of maximizing the benefits of 3D composites technologies such as improved damage resistance and tolerance, and the potential for reduced cost through increased levels of automation. It is anticipated that the EngD student will became the technical expert within AEC for automotive applications and will play a critical role within the AEC team to define and implement the pilot pre-production line within their newly established UK R&D facility.

The candidate will be considered a member of AEC’s team tasked with developing the UK based satellite R&D facility, and will work closely with AEC personnel at AEC’s R&T centre in the greater Boston area. For the first year of the EngD studentship, the candidate will be based at NCC in Bristol and he/she will then transition to the newly established UK R&D facility. The candidate will also be required to travel to the US periodically (at AEC’s expense) to work with engineers and technicians in AEC’s R&T centre near Boston.

The successful candidate should have a strong interest in composite structures development. The candidate must have good organization skills, must be interested in developing expertise in technical program management, and must be willing to participate in technical discussions with potential customers. Interest in composite process modeling and manufacturing cost modeling is beneficial.  It is anticipated that successful completion of this project will lead to full time employment as one of the principal technical managers of the R&D pilot line.

Industrial sponsor: Albany Engineered Composites (http://www.albint.com/)

Academic institution providing supervision: University of Bristol
Closing date for applications: Applications are considered as soon as they are received, and the position will be allocated as soon as a suitable candidate is found.
Stipend: £20k p.a. for four years
Project starting date: ASAP

EngD projects at the National Composites Centre (NCC)

The National Composites Centre in Bristol currently supports a number on Engineering Doctorate students, in collaboration with the EPSRC funded Industrial Doctorate Centre in Composites Manufacture (<ahref=”http://www.cimcomp.ac.uk/IDC”>www.cimcomp.ac.uk/IDC). With several EngD projects nearing successful completion, and significant recent investment in new manufacturing technologies, the NCC seeks eligible applicants to undertake future applied research projects in areas such as Advanced Fibre Placement, Automated Dry Fabric Placement, Braiding technology, In-process monitoring and High Temperature RTM, with Design for manufacture focus in all technologies. There is also interest in Manufacturing informatics and Automated NDT and Metrology, with specific application to composites. The NCC therefore aims to support new EngD projects in some of these areas.

Applicants with ‘home student’ status and holding or about to graduate with a 2.1 or better first degree in structural or chemical engineering, materials science or physical sciences should send their CV in the first instance to idc@cimcomp.ac.uk.

Industrial sponsor: National Composites Centre (http://nccuk.com/)

Closing date for applications: Applications are considered as soon as they are received, and the position will be allocated as soon as a suitable candidate is found

Stipend: £20k p.a. for four year