Control of Materials Chemistry for Additive Manufacturing of Energetic Materials – PhD Studentship

Cranfield University - Defence and Security

Start Date: 1st February 2018

Duration of award: 3 years


Dr. Ranko Vrcelj – Senior Lecturer, Centre for Defence Chemistry
Dr. Phil Gill – Senior Lecturer, Centre for Defence Chemistry

Funding: Sponsored by Defendtex (Australia), via a CRC-P Commonwealth Office Project, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £16,000 - £ 19,000 p.a. (tax free) plus fees* for three years

Main Copy:

Current processes for the manufacturing of energetic materials are both simplistic and wasteful. However, Additive Manufacturing (AM) methods (commonly known as 3D printing), can lead to a step-change in how devices are created, ranging from novel geometries for items, true design for purpose, through to a disruptive approach to logistics and supply chain management.

This project will address some fundamental materials parameters that are required for a useful and robust 3D printing method in the energetics sector, especially for inorganic salts within a polymer matrix.  In particular we will examine the Fused Deposition and extrusion Methods (FDM) and Dry Powder Printing (DPP) systems.

For geometric control and ease of extrusion, the interaction of solid and polymer will be notably different to those used in standard manufacturing methods and issues can arise in particular with regards to a physico-chemical perspective. The two most important are the solubility of the solids in the polymer and the ability of the loaded polymer mixture to absorb moisture.


These two investigations will be applied to the FDM/Extrusion and DPP methods, as the nature of the two AM methods are different and the subsequent loading of polymer and solid are different for each method of manufacture.


The project will examine:

  • Solubility of solid in a polymer matrix
  • Ostwald ripening of crystals
  • Methods for controlling the recrystallization
  • The uptake of moisture in systems and how this affects any recrystallization

As a part of working in this sponsored project, the student will work in close collaboration with Defendtex, Flinders University, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and DST.

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have a 1st or 2nd class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline, such as engineering, chemistry or physics. The ideal candidate should have some understanding in the area of programming, design, experimental skills and industrial service delivery. The candidate should be self-motivated, have good communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest for industrial research.

EU candidates require suitable IELTS (or related qualifications) scores to be eligible for this role.

Funding requirements:

Applicants must be a UK or EU national.We require that applicants are under no restrictions regarding how long they can stay in the UK i.e. have no visa restrictions or applicant has “settled status” and has been “ordinarily resident” in the UK for 3 years prior to start of studies and has not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals). Due to funding restrictions all EU nationals are eligible to receive a fees-only award if they do not have “settled status” in the UK.

How to apply:

For further information please contact: Dr. Ranko Vrcelj

To apply for this research studentship, please complete the online application form


Defence Chemistry

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