A representative assessment of novel high performance steels produced through rapid alloy prototyping

Key Information

Supervisors: Dr H Cockings and TBC


A Rapid Alloy Prototyping (RAP) technique will be employed to develop a high throughput and wide variety of new and innovative materials for Tata Steel UK as part of an EPSRC funded Prosperity Partnership (Tata Steel UK, Swansea University, Warwick Manufacturing Group). This high-throughput approach has the capability of transforming the steel innovation cycle and reducing screening times substantially whilst feeding a diverse supply chain in multiple sectors. The RAP process can generate up to thousands of new miniature-scale materials, with target alloy applications likely covering automotive and tubes for construction and pipeline. In order to down-select and translate these materials into service at full component scale, advanced mechanical testing and characterisation is required.

This project aims to investigate the product performance of down-selected alloys in a representative environment by means of carrying out advanced atmospheric testing and simulating in-service loading cycles and conditions. 

Further properties will also be assessed such as oxidation and corrosion response, Stress Corrosion Cracking susceptibility, fatigue (HCF and LCF) performance, fracture toughness and surface effects.  These assessments would typically be carried out utilising standardised test specimens, however, the project will also explore the possibilities of generating similar representative data for miniature and micro-samples and investigating potential scaling and volumetric effects of such tests. If successful, a greater understanding of performance can be obtained without the need to produce large volumes of material.

Advanced imaging techniques will be utilised as well as micro in-situ mechanical testing. Material performance will be correlated with process parameters and evaluation of data gathered will be consolidated to further optimise alloy processing.  

The Research Engineer will:

  1. Define representative service environmental requirements of the laboratory simulation and development of novel testing techniques where required.
  2. Capability validation – benchmarking against existing Tata Steel Alloys, such as Dual Phase Steel 800 (DP800)
  3. Small scale investigation: advanced imaging and in-situ testing. Atmospheric and mechanical testing. To understand if sample volume influences data produced.
  4. Undertake full performance assessment and characterisation of down-selected scaled-up materials (chemical. Microstructural, mechanical and environmental).
  5. Understand the effect of microstructure, processing parameters and other properties on materials final performance.
  6. Work in collaboration with Tata Steel partners to optimise selected alloys and processing routes for further scale up to full plant trials.

This project will be in support of the EPSRC Prosperity Partnership. The candidate will have the rare opportunity of being directly involved in the development and optimisation of new, novel steel alloys which provides extensive scope for exploitation via publication and patents. As well as having the ability to develop an advanced, in-depth understanding of materials’ performance in a variety of applications, there will also be capacity to explore potential ‘blue sky’ alloy compositions and novel testing techniques leading to further future developments within the industry.

Swansea University is a top 30 UK institution for research excellence (Research Excellence Framework 2014) and has been named Welsh University of the Year 2017 by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

The Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) in the College of Engineering is a Swansea University initiative which provides postgraduate research training in partnership with industry; providing access to world-class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. The M2A is committed to delivering high quality collaborative research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Swansea University and Industry partners. 

The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and is committee to addressing unequal gender representation.

Applications from women are particularly welcomed. As a positive action to address gender imbalance, female undergraduates considering a career in research are invited to join our two-day laboratory taster session and learn about a typical day in the life of a research engineer.


We welcome applications from candidates with an Engineering or Physical Science degree (minimum level 2:1), or a combination of degree and equivalent relevant experience to the same level to join the M2A community of research engineers.

To be eligible for EPSRC funding, applicants should:

  • Be eligible for home tuition fees at Swansea University.
  • Have settled status in the UK, meaning no restrictions on the length of stay in the UK; and be ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the grant, apart from temporary or occasional absences.
  • Not have been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. This does not apply to UK nationals and EU nationals who were ordinarily resident in the EU immediately before the period of full-time education.

This Doctorate is supported by the EPSRC funded Prosperity Partnership on Rapid Alloy Development. 

Full fees at Home/EU rate for a period of four academic years. Maintenance stipend at £20K per annum for a period of four years.

Closing Date 15 March 2019

Start Date October 2019

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Informal enquiries about this studentship are welcome and may be directed by email to: M2A@swansea.ac.uk