Four-Year EngD Scholarship with the National Composites Centre: “Development of Systems and Processes for Automated Preforming”

University of Bristol - Faculty of Engineering

Project Outline:

The NCC has the ability to infuse resin into very complex and large dry fibre preforms rapidly, with RTM cycle times to infuse and cure taking as little as 3 minutes to complete. The creation of the large and complex preforms is limited to semi-automated processes, and currently cannot match the 3 minute cycle time for infusing and curing. With the recent commissioning of the automated preforming cell, there is an opportunity to carry out research into cutting, handling, and forming of composite preforms to support rapid infusion and cure. The automated preforming cell is highly instrumented and reconfigurable, with a number of aerospace preforming projects planned in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

The EngD supporting project work will include the design and construction of robotic end effectors to handle, cut, and manipulate fabric. The development of several alternative processes for cutting fabric, forming fabric from 2D to 3D shapes repeatably, reducing waste and activating binder.

The work will be a combination of theoretical work to understand the fundamentals of the different processes, and also a large amount of practical work to characterise the processes and then optimise them.

Airbus, Rolls Royce, and Dowty Propellers have planned project work in the automated preforming cell and this EngD will support each of the projects to develop new capability.

Initial deliverables are likely to include:

  • Literature review of forming processes.
  • Completion of training on automated preform cell.
  • Design of experiments matrix for material forming trials.

Project start date: As soon as possible.

PLEASE NOTE: Applications are considered as soon as they are received, and the position will be allocated as soon as a suitable candidate is found.

Location: National Composites Centre, Bristol.

How to apply: If you are interested in applying for this EngD project please send your CV, covering letter and academic transcript to:

About the IDC and the EngD programme:

For further information about the IDC and the EngD programme please visit:

Candidate requirements:


An upper second-class degree (or equivalent qualification) in an appropriate discipline.


Stipend: £20k p.a.

Standard EPSRC studentship eligibility criteria apply:


For further information about the IDC and the EngD programme please visit: or contact:

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South West England