Abrasive water jet cutting of GLARE® fibre metal laminates and its constituents for aerospace applications
PhDs and postgraduate research
Self-funded PhD students only
School of Mechanical and Design Engineering
October and February
Applications accepted all year round
This project is now closed. The details below are for information purposes only.
View our current projects here.
Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.
The work on this project could involve:
- Experimental analysis on the machinability of GLARE® fibre metal laminates and its constituents S2/FM94 glass fibre composite and Al2024 aluminium alloy.
- To investigate the effect of abrasive water jet cutting process parameters on the hole quality of GLARE® fibre metal laminates and its constituents.
- Experimental investigation of the effect of cutting parameters on the microstructure evolution and defects formation due the abrasive water jet cutting process.
GLARE® (Glass Aluminium Reinforced Epoxy) laminate is a hybrid composite metal material currently used in the upper fuselage of commercial aircrafts. The material is made from thin aluminium sheets and glass fibre layers stacked together in alternating sequence and bonded using an adhesive epoxy. The material usual requires machining processes such as drilling and milling for riveting and assembly purposes.
The machinability of GLARE® structures governs the longevity and structural integrity of aircraft during its service time. Conventional machining such as drilling for hole making has been the common method for riveting. However, the process comes at an expense of increased delamination and thermal damage in the composite layers. In addition, burr formations and sharp edges which promote for crack propagation in the material.
An alternative is to use a non-contact machining technique known as abrasive water jet cutting process. The process involves using small abrasives mixed with water and applied at high pressure removing the material. The process does not involve mechanical contact between the cutting tool and the workpiece similar to conventional machining processes, therefore, the cutting forces applied on the material are negligible, while the thermal effects are completely mitigated. In addition, the use of water means that thermal stresses and damage in the material are eliminated.
However, the composite layers in GLARE® will be prone to moisture absorption which will reduce the mechanical properties of the material. Therefore, it is important to optimise the abrasive water jet cutting to reduce moisture absorption and maintain excellent hole quality similar or better than that produced using conventional drilling process. It is also important to understand how the AWJC process influence GLARE® constituents (i.e. metal and composite) separately to better understand the best approach to machine GLARE laminates®.
The current research will investigate the effect of cutting parameters using water jet cutting process on the final hole quality of GLARE® laminate and its constituents. This research will also study the effect of cutting parameters on the microstructure evolution and defects formation in those materials and optimise the process parameters for optimum hole quality.
Fees and funding
Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only.
PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).
2021/2022 fees (applicable for October 2021 and February 2022 start)
PhD and MPhil
Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,500 p/a**
Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,250 p/a**
International full-time students: £17,600 p/a*
International part-time students: £8,800 p/a*
PhD by Publication
External candidates: £4,407*
Members of staff: £1,720
All fees are subject to annual increase. If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2021/22 please visit this page.
*This is the 2020/21 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maximum studentship fee; this fee will increase to the 2021/22 UKRI maximum studentship fee when UKRI announces this rate in Spring 2021.
Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.
You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
- A good basic knowledge in Metrology equipment such as (Surface roughness tester, Coordinates measurement machine, cutting forces measurement, optical microscopes, hardness tester, scanning electron microscopy) is essential for the post.
- Some experience with using statistical software such Minitab or SPSS is desired.
- Background in mechanical engineering and microstructural analysis using Scanning electron microscopy and computerized tomography is desirable.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills with ability to prepare presentations, reports and journal papers to the highest levels of quality.
How to apply
When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Mechanical and Design Engineering PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.
When applying please quote project code: SMDE5171021.