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UCL Mechanical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences


PhD: Making Additive Manufacturing Sustainable Using X-ray Imaging

Mechanical Engineering
Duration of Studentship:
4 Years
Stipend :
£18,609 in 2021/22, rising with inflation each year
Application Deadline :
1 Aug 2021

Vacancy Information

Additive manufacturing (AM) is an emerging digital manufacturing technology that produces components with complex shapes. For metals, a key AM process is laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) technology, which fuses powder particles into components, layer-by-layer, directly from a digital file. Enabling powder recycling (or reuse) is a key driver to make LPBF sustainable and cost-effective. However, the impact of recycled and reused powder on product quality is not well understood. There are a multitude of factors to consider: oxygen pick-up, powder contaminations, and moisture. This project will use world leading X-ray techniques (laboratory and synchrotron) to gain a better fundamental understanding of the impact of these factors on the properties of AM components. You will be working with Carpenter Additive (CA) – a world-leading powder manufacturer with a 20% global powder market share, who are co-funding the project.

This project is integrated with the UK’s hub for Manufacturing with Advanced Powder Processes ( The PhD research will be based at the Harwell Campus, working in the UCL Materials, Structures, and Materials group at Harwell (MSM@H). You will have access to use advanced characterisation facilities at the Harwell Campus (, UCL Bloomsbury Campus, Henry Royce Institute (, and CA’s research and development facilities.

Studentship Description

This PhD studentship will tackle the above challenge by: (1) characterising the powder quality using CA’s proprietary powder condition analysis technology, (2) revealing their impact on surface dynamics, e.g. spatter, in addition to, the melt pool and defect dynamics during LPBF, (3) using a combination of a unique AM process replicator (developed by UCL), ultra-fast in situ synchrotron X-ray imaging, and advanced image analysis.
The expected research outcomes will provide key insights on which powder quality has the most influence on AM process, e.g. the fluid flow behaviour and defect formation in the melt pool. The extracted information could also be used to develop next-generation powder characterisation technology. Your work will play a crucial role in the qualification of materials and process for AM, helping end-users to decide when powders should be reused or recycled.

Person Specification

Applicants should ideally have a first-class, or equivalent, undergraduate degree in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, or a related discipline. Excellent organisational, interpersonal, and communication skills, along with a stated interest in interdisciplinary research, are essential. Ideally, you would have experience in one, or more, of the following:
• Metallurgy
• Additive manufacturing
• Image analysis and/or X-ray imaging
• Matlab and Python programming


This funding is available for those with Home student status. We actively encourage the application of female applicants for this position. Please DO NOT enquire about this studentship if you are ineligible. Please refer to the following website for eligibility criteria:
Eligible applicants should first contact Dr Chu Lun Alex Leung ( quoting the job reference (Ref:1876780). Please enclose a one-page statement outlining suitability for the project and two pages CV (including contact details of two referees). The supervisory team will arrange interviews for short-listed candidates. After interview, the successful candidate will be given instructions to formally apply online via the UCL website. For further information, see
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