Developing an innovative, non-destructive process to remove support structures for additive manufacturing

Developing an innovative, non-destructive process to remove support structures for additive manufacturing

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU/International)

Duration: Full-time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline:  31st March 2021

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2021 

For queries please contact Dr Liang Wu.

Trailblazers PhD studentships

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Coventry University is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship within the Institute for Future Transport and Cities (IFTC).

About the project

Additive manufacturing (AM) has become a critical tool in high-value manufacturing sectors such as aerospace, automotive and medical. In metal additive manufacturing, support structures are always used during the printing process for preventing distortion and collapse. However, removing support structures after the printing process remains a challenge as current approaches to support removal are using mechanical separation techniques and will lead to damage on the surface of AM parts and affect their dimensional accuracy and aesthetics.

To address this critical challenge, this challenge-led interdisciplinary research proposes to exploit an innovative, non-destructive process to electrochemically remove support structures assisted with ultrasonic techniques. The new feature of the herein proposed research is the use of ultrasonic vibration to assist the electrochemical process, which will bring two key benefits: 1) increasing the electrochemical reaction rate by enhancing the hydrodynamic conditions and mass transport and 2) promoting the effectiveness of the electrochemical dissolution process, especially for the removal of internal support materials.

The highly innovative aspects of the project, together with the opportunity to work with a world-leading additive manufacturer, are an invaluable combination for someone who wants to be a future leader in the research field of additive manufacturing.


Fully funded single studentship, which includes tuition fees and living expenses for a doctoral candidate over 3.5 years.

Stipend rates will be equivalent to those set by UKRI and will rise annually with a projected average increase of 1.25% per year. CU fees are adjusted yearly in line with the rates set by UKRI.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. The successful candidate will have opportunities to visit and work with a UK AM supplier.

Candidate specification

Successful applicants will have:

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree (second class honours upper division) in one or more of the following: Chemistry, Additive Manufacturing, Materials Science or a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
  • A Masters Degree in one or more of the following: Chemistry, Additive Manufacturing, Materials Science or a relevant discipline/subject area will be considered as an equivalent. The Masters must have been attained with minimum overall marks at merit level (60%). In addition, the dissertation or equivalent element in the Masters must also have been attained with a minimum mark at merit level (60%).
  • A minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
In addition
  • A background in one or more of the following would be extremely advantageous: chemical/electrochemical dissolution, ultrasonic techniques, AM support removal
  • Knowledge of electron microscopy techniques
  • Knowledge of mechanical testing methods

How to apply

All applications require full supporting documentation, and a covering letter – plus an up to 2000-word supporting statement is required showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Liang Wu.

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