PhD Projects

Selective stiffness modification and performance prediction for AFP composites

Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) offers fully automated manufacturing process and excellent tailoring capability at the expense of creating many process-induced defects which significantly increase the modeling complexity. Traditional AFP modeling techniques based on the ply-wise model are very limited in the global elastic stiffness prediction with the assumption that all the tows in-plane are uniform and continuous. However, the effect of these process-induced defects such as gaps, overlaps or tow drops, etc on the performance of the final product is significant. This project primarily targets to develop a more detailed and robust simulation tool for various mechanical performance prediction for AFP composites with the inclusion of physical defects.

Optimisation of laser-assisted automated fibre placement (AFP) for manufacture of metal-composite hybrids

This project will develop a production-viable AFP process for reinforcement of metallic components with automated placement of unidirectional TPCs. The research will include investigation of surface texturing of metal substrates for optimal laser absorption and metal composite bond quality; metalcomposite interaction with possible adhesive inclusion and/or treatments; thermal modelling and measurements of the bond line temperature history to understand the effects of process parameter settings; and analysis of process constraints, limits of geometrical complexity for automotive part manufacture and cycle times.

Abrasive waterjet machining of composites

The project will develop a near damage free machining of polymer based composites using abrasive waterjet (AWJ). AWJ machining have shown great advantages in machining composites than traditional mechanical machining. However, AWJ machining induced material damage, especially delamination, is a huge concern. The research will study the machining process and optimise the parameters. Material removal mechanism, mechanics and delamination mechanism during AWJ impact will also be investigated. The research aims to understand the interaction between AWJ and composites and to improve the AWJ machining process.

Damage tolerance of bonded patch repairs for primary structures

This research will focus on the certification process of bonded patch repair for aircraft primary structures. This study will involve design and development of defect or damage tolerant; assess the suitability along with support to slow damage growth management approach for both standard and taper geometries; satisfy the certification requirement for certification of bonded repairs in primary aircraft structures together with damage tolerance in the safe-life region. The research will support the overall aim of the Centre to integrate certification process of bonded patch repairs through generic specimen designs called the Double Overlap Fatigue Specimen (DOFS) and the Skin Doubler Specimen (SDS) along with the application of composite materials.

Nano-scale materials and coatings for enhancement of functional properties of carbon composites

The research will focus on developing and characterizing nano-scale functional coatings for high performance composites applicable to several industry sectors, such as aerospace, automotive and elite sport. It will include, for example, the integration of graphene into polymer matrices to enhance electrical, thermal and mechanical properties; and coatings for controlled surface wetting such, as ultra/super-hydrophobic and super-hydrophilic films, for self-cleaning, anti-icing , and anti-fogging application, and water droplet manipulation. The research will support the overall aim for the Centre to integrate carbon composite tapes with enhanced functionality into the automated manufacturing chain.

Graphene-enhanced prepreg tapes for thermal and electrical conductivity

The focus of this investigation will be the integration of nano-materials into polymer matrices to enhance, electrical thermal and mechanical properties of next-generation composites for applications in aerospace, automotive and elite sports. Bulk and nano-material interactions will be examined to consolidate fundamental knowledge to apply to current and future undertakings.

Smart monitoring of large structures using distributed fiber optic sensors.

This research will focus on the development of optical fibre sensor (OFS) for introduced new possibilities to monitor the mechanical health of the structure. Strain, temperature and pressure are the most widely studied measurands and the fibre grating sensor represents the most widely studied technology for OFS. In the past decade, several R& D studies have been performed with the goal of improving the knowledge and developing new techniques associated with the application of distributed optical fibre sensors (DOFS) in order to widen the range of applications of these sensors and also to obtain more correct and reliable data. Their great advantage is the possibility of monitoring variations of one-dimensional structural physical fields along the entire optical fibre in a truly distributed way. The aim of this research project is to develop a smart structural health monitoring (SHM) application using DOFS and embedded the sensors network into the composite structure for real-time structural assessment and damage detection during manufacturing and in operation.

Failure assessment based design optimisation of AFP manufactured hydrofoil

The research focuses on identifying the interface failure of laminated composites using the advanced technique of Scaled Boundary Finite Element Method (SBFEM). SBFEM uses a semi-analytical approach and works appreciably faster than conventional FEM. The research aims to propose a one-stop solution from crack identification to propagation in polymer composite materials and will extend to identify possible avenues of design optimization in case of large hydrofoil structures. The research will support the overall aim for the Centre to integrate simulation findings with enhanced design improvements into the manufacturing of composite structures.