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Within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering, at the University of Glasgow, the Materials, Design and Manufacturing research team focuses on the use of numerical computation in understanding and optimising both material properties and design and manufacture processes. Materials of particular interest include: advanced, smart and nano-composites, adhesives, technical textiles and porous materials. Strong emphasis is placed on predicting the macro-scale properties of these materials from the underlying micro- and meso-structure. Understanding the role of the manufacture process in determining material behaviour is a key concern. The Design aspect of the research theme aims to reverse the typical design process by turning ‘design problems’ into ‘simulation problems’; a method known as computer-automated design. Here biologically-inspired, intelligent machine-learning algorithms are developed to allow manual design questions to be solved using faster, more efficient computer-controlled design codes. The Materials and Design themes can be combined to address issues in Manufacturing where the interplay between material behaviour and manufacture process determines both the quality and cost of the final products.
Research across all these sub-themes is funded through various sources. Application areas for the research are broad including aeronautical, biomedical, energy, marine, military and automotive engineering. Research in composites and composites manufacturing covers a broad spectrum of topics; examples currently under investigation include: forming mechanics of advanced composites; digital microstructure generation for cellular materials; stochastic modelling of fibre orientation variability in advanced composite laminates; dynamic response of smart laminates; tribology of composite materials and composite joints; experimental mechanics and computational modelling of composite materials; strength and toughness of composite materials; nanocomposites (e.g. using carbon nanotubes and graphene); thermoforming of advanced composites; manufacture of self-sensing and self-healing structural foams; low cost manufacture of steered-fibre laminates; and tribology of metal and composites forming and in mechanical joints.