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Postdoc on FE simulation of 3D printed cellular structures @ Ghent University (Belgium)

"3D printing" is a popular term for the layerwise manufacturing of metals or polymers with a printing head, that builds up the component with droplets of molten polymer or metal into a 3D shape. The geometries that can be realized with this technique, can be very complex, and this with a minimum of material usage, because no material has to be milled away. Further, very lightweight materials can be achieved. Flanders region plays a leading role in Europe in this 3D printing sector, with important industrial players such as Materialise, Layerwise and Melotte. In this research project, UGent is working together with Materialise, the worldwide leader in software for 3D printing (, and with Siemens (Siemens PLM Software – The purpose is to develop finite element simulation tools for 3D printed lightweight structures. The focus will be on lattice structures, defined as cellular materials that are built up from a three-dimensional network of struts (as opposed to other cellular materials such as foams and honeycombs). The struts do not necessarily have to be straight, but can also have varying cross-sectional dimensions or can consist of several curved segments. These lattice structures can make up a whole component on their own, can be covered with a thin solid skin or can be integrated into solid parts to form a complete component. The lattice structures that are considered here have typically a few thousand to a few tens of thousands of lattices. The typical length of the lattices ranges from 1 mm to 10 mm. Cross-sections are typically circular with a diameter ranging from 0.2 to 3 mm. Because of the layerwise manufacturing, the elastic and strength properties of the individual struts are anisotropic, and the length axis of the struts is typically not aligned with the building direction. This makes the finite element modelling a big challenge, especially because detailed meshes with continuum elements will be computationally impossible for real-size lattice structures. The simulation of the (nonlinear) elastic response must be feasible for 3D printed parts with up to 100 000 individual lattices.

This research is already running, and substantial work has already been done on the mechanical testing of 3D printed materials, micro-CT imaging of lattice structures and development of dedicated FE simulations. The postdoctoral research should expand this work towards topology optimization of 3D printed cellular structures, combined with advanced experimental characterization.

Only candidates with a PhD degree should apply. The candidate should have a relevant background in computational mechanics of materials, preferably combined with experience in experimental testing and mechanical characterization of materials.

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