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PhD Studentship - Development of Forming Simulation Capabilities for use in Large-scale Next-generation Composite Aerospace Structures

University of Bristol - Faculty of Engineering (University of Bristol)

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £20,450
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 17th June 2019
Closes: 31st July 2019

Location: Airbus Filton and National Composites Centre, Bristol

Company Background

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2018, it generated revenues of € 64 billion and employed a workforce of around 134,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats.

Project Background

The challenge presented to Manufacturing Engineering is to deliver the industrial solution to produce composite structures consistently and at the desired rate and cost targets. However, for new processes, manufacturing capability information may not be fully available or understood at the concept stage, which could lead to expensive late design changes, material and process mitigations.

Composite materials have found a widespread application in wide-body aircraft, such as the A350XWB. To successfully translate the benefits of composites to narrow-body aircraft, an order of magnitude increase in rate will be required. State of the art manufacturing methods requiring deposition and processing of pre-impregnated materials may not satisfy rate and cost targets, necessitating a shift towards higher rate processes which involve pre-forming dry reinforcements and subsequent infusion methods to create composite structures.

Project Aims and Objectives

The aim of this project is to improve forming process simulations to support material deployment strategies for large-scale next-generation aerospace structures. Ultimately such an approach can help to obtain the highest level of quality and mechanical performance possible for the composite structure whilst meeting the set production rate requirements. Furthermore a wider range of processing conditions in combination with material configurations can be explored virtually to supplement experimental findings.

The objectives of the project include:

  1. Perform a literature survey to assess the state of the art in modelling the forming of dry-fibre preforms for composite manufacturing.
  2. Perform forming simulations for small sized components to gain an understanding of the implemented material model capabilities with respect to representing manufacturing process parameters and preform material and possible constituents (e.g. stitching, toughening, binder).
  3. Perform forming trials and make use of existing data to enhance an understanding of the material behaviour and limits to support simulation verification and validation.
  4. Perform forming simulations for larger scale components to assess and enhance the material model for effectiveness supported through experimental data.
  5. Explore additional usage of the simulation output such as (a) application of uncertainty quantification and (b) transfer of forming simulation output to structural models.

The candidate will have the opportunity to work with a team of engineers as part of the Airbus Wing of Tomorrow development programme.

How to apple

If you are interested in applying for an NCC EngD project please send your CV, covering letter and academic transcripts to

Candidate requirements:

Applicants with ‘home student’ status and holding or about to graduate with a first or 2.1 degree in structural or chemical engineering, materials science or physical sciences.

Please note that this project is not available to international students due to tier 4 visa requirements.


Stipend: £20,450k p.a.

Standard EPSRC studentship eligibility criteria apply:


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

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