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PhD studentship - Robotic Processing of surfaces from additive manufacturing

University of Huddersfield

Employment Type:
Full Time

Daresbury, Warrington, UK

Closing Date:
28 February 2020

Project Reference GAOCE32

Supervisory Team
Main Supervisor: Dr Feng Gao
Co-Supervisor: Dr Guoyu Yu

Process complex surfaces produced from additive manufacturing to high-precision optical surfaces with robotic polishing.

Project Introduction
This project is to process complex surfaces that are produced from additive manufacturing (3D printing). This technology has fully established in prototype development and begin to implement in the medical sector, art and automotive. Research works have now started in many other areas and We are following up an enquiry from UCL Mullard Space Laboratory on collaborating on post-polishing 3D-printed compact optics for a CubeSat mission. Aspherical and freeform surfaces are big challenges for traditional methods. 3D printing has the advantage to produce complex base shapes and we propose to process these surfaces to high-precision optical surfaces with robotic polishing.

Project Details
The starting point of this project is to define surfaces to be processed. The considerations of the design will include the surface’s shape, finish quality, size and materials to be used. This will involve the design of structures and surfaces using commercial CAD software (e.g. Solidwords). The student will also be required to liaise with day factor supervisor, David Bogg who is from STFC Daresbury and other technical staff to discuss the technical contents regarding 3D printing.

The aim of this project is to be able to perform corrective polishing directly after 3D printing, although intermediate smoothing process can be applied to achieve the starting condition of the polishing. The characterisation of the surfaces will be carried out regarding their form, mid-spatial frequency error and roughness. Complex surfaces will be characterised with different instruments, such as PGI profilometer, CMMs, white-light interferometers, digital fringe projection and phase measurement deflectometry. The venue of metrology will be both at Huddersfield and Daresbury campus depending on the availability of instruments.

Polishing experiments will be carried out at the University’s Laboratory for Ultra Precision Surfaces at Daresbury. The laboratory is equipped with cutting-edge CNC polishing machines and robots to enable processing experiments of multiple options regarding blank material, toolpath, tooling and polishing media.

To demonstrate that ultra-precision polishing is a competitive process, multiple processing experiments will be carried out on samples of varied blank material, surface shape and size considering the applications in different sectors. Taguchi methods will be utilised to optimise the reduction of the number of experiments.

The results from every stage will be collected to access the suitability of polishing of different materials and their input surface quality. Comparison experiments will also be conducted on similar characteristic samples of traditional optical materials. This will provide a quantitative evaluation of the surface quality vs cost of manufacturing.

Training will be provided to the student by appropriate supervisors and technical staff. The student will start by literature research regarding the state of art additive manufacturing, metrology and polishing technologies. He/she will also be provided with supervision to familiarise instruments that are necessary for subsequent experiments.

Entry Requirements
The student should have an experimental background in physics or engineering. He/She should be willing to conduct experiments in the lab. It is ideal that the student has some knowledge of software, such as MATLAB and SOLIDWORKS.

****This might be relevant to STFC staff through a secondment to a PhD programme, where the project-scope is “tuned” to be of mutual interest*****