EPSRC PhD Studentship in Design for Additive Manufacturing

University of Cambridge - Department of Engineering

For designers, there is an intimate relationship between the emergence of new production processes and the potential to create new things in new ways. Additive Manufacturing (AM) presents designers with a unique set of new possibilities, to design new components with new shapes. Fused Deposition Modelling has become one of the most ubiquitous of AM processes, due to the comparatively low cost of these machines. However, the utility of FDM to designers is limited by the performance capabilities of these machines, especially with complex or small structures. As a result, much of the use is by 'hobbyists' and many parts require several iterations of production due to inaccuracies in manufacture. Whilst most machine brochures cite 'resolution' and axis speed as an indicator of performance, dimensional precision is extremely often not indicated.

This project will explore the dimensional capability of 3D printing technologies, and specifically FDM machines. The first output will be a greater understanding of the current capability of different machines, which is essential data if these technologies are to be used be designers. This data will be used to deliver the second output, the re-design of an FDM machine using the principles of robust machine tool design. The aim of the work is to produce an FDM machine with higher levels of dimensional precision than are currently available.

The supervisor will be Dr James Moultrie (www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/people/jm329) and the advisor for will be Dr Ronan Daly (www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/people/rd439), both at the Institute for manufacturing, University of Cambridge.


The PhD student will conduct experiments on as wide a set of FDM machines as is possible (linking with colleagues around this and other universities. This will include a baseline study of machine repeatability as well as the characterisation of dimensional accuracy over the full build volume. These experiments will also establish the interdependencies and impact of different process settings on print quality.

It is expected that the student will analyse the outputs from the experimental phase in relation to the underlying machine design principles adopted, to determine how the machine design might influence the variations seen. Outputs from this phase will be used to design a new FDM machine, with the objective of producing parts with a high level of dimensional accuracy and repeatability.

Expected outcomes

  • A comprehensive understanding of the manufacturing precision of existing FDM machines.
  • Understanding how the underlying machine design for FDM machines might impact on dimensional accuracy and repeatability.
  • The design of a new FDM machine based on robust machine design principles to improve on current dimensional accuracy and repeatability.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree (and preferably a Masters degree) in an Engineering or a related subject and preferably have a good knowledge or experience of Engineering Design.

Applications should be made on-line via the Cambridge Graduate Admissions Office before the deadline: www.admin.cam.ac.uk/students/gradadmissions/prospec/apply with Dr James Moultrie identified.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

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