PhD Studentship - Process innovation for advanced sheet metal components

The PhD studentship will develop an exciting new process for manufacturing sheet metal components used in automotive, aerospace, packaging and durable goods applications. The process aims to boost productivity by expanding forming limits, reducing tooling development costs and improving material efficiency.

As the first major user of a £200k customised experimental rig, you will develop methods to implement the innovative process technology and evaluate its effectiveness.

We expect the successful candidate to develop tooling and fixturing for carrying out precise experiments based on concepts deduced from process modelling methods such as Finite Element Analysis. You will use CAD to design the tooling and supervise its manufacturing and assembly on the rig. Machine control programmes will be developed to carry out a range of instrumented experiments based on a comprehensive design of experiments. Feedback control may be used to respond to changes in force or workpiece shape.

We think the process is ground-breaking, but further rigorous evaluation of its effectiveness is needed. The successful candidate will compare our new process to conventional sheet forming processes such as deep-drawing. For instance, you may determine an 'operating window' showing the range of product geometries achievable, as well as identifying and predicting process limits such as wrinkling and tearing.

The PhD studentship is linked to the £5m EPSRC research programme, UK FIRES (, and the successful candidate will be in contact with several other PhD students within the wider programme, as well as an industrial consortium spanning the metals supply chain.

EPSRC DTP studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for eligible UK students. International (including EU) students will be considered for partial funding (home-level fees and maintenance) from the DTP. We recommend that international students apply by 3 December, in order that they can also be put forward for funding from the Cambridge Trust for the home-overseas fee difference if selected.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree in Engineering or related subject.

We are looking for candidates with a background in, or strong interest in developing skills in:

  • Engineering design and/or precision machine design
  • Analysis of plastic deformation processes
  • Design or operation of industrial manufacturing processes

To apply for this studentship, please send your two-page CV and covering letter to to arrive no later than 11 December 2020.

The covering letter should explain why you would like to apply and why you think you are a good fit to the project.

Please note that any offer of funding will be conditional on securing a place as a PhD student. Candidates will need to apply separately for admission through the University's Graduate Admissions application portal; this can be done before or after applying for this funding opportunity. Note that there is a £70 fee for PhD applications. The applicant portal can be accessed via: The funding is conditional on submitting this application before 31 March 2021.