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PhD/postdoc vacancy (4 years) on development of topology optimization algorithms for functionally graded materials

Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing or WAAM techniques are attracting interest from the manufacturing industry because of their potential to produce large metal components with low cost and short production lead time. This process exists alongside other high deposition rate metal AM technologies such as powder and wire based DED. While these use either laser or an electron beam as energy source to melt a metal powder or wire, WAAM technologies melt metal wire using an electric arc.

The mechanical properties of additively manufactured materials, such as titanium alloy, are comparable to cast or wrought material. It has also been found that twin-wire WAAM has the capability to produce intermetallic alloys and functionally graded materials.
It is exactly that last feature of functional grading that can be used to tune the mechanical, thermal and thermomechanical properties of large structures, by depositing differently graded material compositions in different areas. Based on this technological asset, the European H2020 project Grade2XL has been approved ( The project is coordinated by M2i in the Netherlands, and Ghent University is one of the partners.

The current 4-year vacancy will focus on the development of new topology optimization algorithms and software, in order to optimize the geometrical shape and the spatial distribution of the functional properties across the whole part geometry. Case studies will be provided by the industrial partners, for example tuning the thermal expansion coefficients of very large 3D printed moulds (in order to minimize the warping and geometric tolerances of the produced parts in those moulds).
It is important to mention that the focus of this vacancy is NOT on the additive manufacturing process itself, nor on the manufacturing simulation or the design simulation of WAAM produced parts. The research question is how the topology of large components can be optimized for certain mechanical properties, if the manufacturing allows for functionally graded material properties across the volume of the part. This optimization should also take into account the physical feasibility to generate certain material phases, dependent on the phase diagrams (e.g. through ThermoCalc simulations) and the alloys that can be manufactured with twin-wire WAAM. From that point on, the optimization strategy can be disconnected from the WAAM manufacturing process itself and becomes a numerical research problem. This means that the classical topology optimization has to be extended with additional field variables that take the spatial variation of material properties into account. Therefore, the profile of the candidate should be much more focussed on computational mechanics and experience with (topology) optimization methods, rather than expertise in AM manufacturing or experimental characterization of AM materials.
The PhD/postdoc study at Ghent University is purely numerical, while the experimental work will be done at the other academic and industrial partners.

Only candidates with a Master/PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Civil Engineering, (Applied) Physics or similar should apply. You have a strong background in computational mechanics, you are interested to perform numerical research and to interact and collaborate with industry.

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