DTPSCIDM: Development of an Intelligent Robotic Rotational Moulding Cell for Sustainable Manufacturing of Thermoplastics
Robotic manufacturing is set to revolutionise many of our traditional industries and at Queen’s we and our research partners are at the forefront of developing this new technology. One of our most recent advances is the development of a new form of moulding process called Robomould, where we have combined a robotic arm and an electrically heated mould to create an intelligent, autonomous manufacturing cell for plastics. This research is ground-breaking and the installation of a new robotic cell at Queen’s has created the need for an ambitious research project to fully develop the capabilities of the system in collaboration with our international research partners. Academic Requirements: A minimum degree of 2:1 (or equivalent) in mechanical, manufacturing, electrical, electronics or mechatronics engineering, or another relevant discipline. Strong analytical, organisational and team-working skills with an interest in advanced manufacturing systems and robotics.
Robomould is the first system to exploit robotics for the rotational moulding of plastics and to embrace fully the principles of Industry 4.0. We believe that with further development this patented technology can completely transform the existing rotational moulding industry by creating an intelligent, fully autonomous manufacturing cell. The Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC) has already worked for several years with our main research partner, AMS Robotics, to advance the system’s capabilities and to introduce this new technology to industry. Recently AMS has agreed to provide the PPRC with the latest version of Robomould for the purposes of further research and development, and this system will be dedicated to this new doctoral training project.
This exciting opportunity requires an ambitious, high calibre engineering graduate to drive the development of the new Robomould production cell. The work will involve a multinational, multidisciplinary team from the Schools of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering at Queen’s, the Robotics Group at the Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven and AMS Robotics. Throughout the project it is expected that the student will spend regular periods working in Belgium with AMS and KU Leuven and the PPRC will host KU Leuven students working on related projects.
Aims and Objectives:
The main aim of this PhD project is to further research and develop the capabilities of the robotic moulding cell. Some of the key research objectives of the work are to:
-Study in detail the technical capabilities of the new robotic cell in comparison to existing rotational moulding production methods.
-Reduce production cycle times by fully exploiting the integrated control of robot movement and zonal heating/cooling of the mould.
-Introduce new in-process sensors to the mould and integrate these with the cell’s automatic control system.
-Develop a range of novel multilayer processing techniques to enable production of high-quality automotive parts.
-Optimise the design and operation of the in-mould heating system and introduce automated internal cooling to the mould.
An additional stipend top-up of £3,000 pa is available from the project’s industrial sponsor, AMS Robotics, Belgium
Mechanical Engineering overview
Doing a PhD in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is a highly rewarding experience. You will carry out your research in a friendly and supportive environment, supervised by academics who are leaders in their field, using well-equipped laboratories and research facilities, alongside students from all over the world. We have around 100 students enrolled on a PhD at a time. The School has a vibrant PhD student mentoring programme and a student led Research Culture Committee.
The School’s research is focused around six interconnected research themes: Advanced Manufacturing and Processing, Future Aircraft, Composite Materials and Structures, Simulation Technologies, Clean Energy and Biomaterials and Biomechanics.
PhD opportunities are available in a wide range of subjects aligned to the specific expertise of our PhD supervisors. Many are linked with leading companies and organisations.
Research students are encouraged to play a full and active role in the research activities undertaken within the School. Students attend international conferences and participate in relevant external academic and industrial networks worldwide.
- The School has strong links with both local and international engineering employers, and has longstanding relationships with companies such as Airbus, Caterpillar, ExxonMobil, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus, McLaren F1 and Rolls-Royce.
- PhD research contributes to major interdisciplinary centres in the University, including:
•Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE)
•Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC)
•Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC)
- The School has well equipped laboratories and great research facilities. PhD students share offices alongside postdoctoral staff. The School has Research Culture Committee to enhance the research environment of the School and support PhD students.
Employment after the Course
Many of our PhD graduates have moved into academic and research roles in Higher Education while others go on to play leading roles in industry, industry or become entrepreneurs.
People teaching you
Dr Trevor Robinson
Doctoral Programme Director
Mech & Aerospace Engineering
You will carry out leading research under the guidance of your supervisory team. A full time student will normally complete in three years (up to a maximum of four), or part time over six years (up to a maximum of eight).
Research will usually be in one of the key, interlinked research themes in the School, and the subtopics they cover, include:-
Advanced Manufacturing and Processing - cost modelling, ergonomics, intelligent control, laser processing, life cycle analysis, material characterisation, mechatronics, parallel kinematic machines, polymer processing, robotics and ultra-precision manufacturing.
Future Aircraft - aero engines, aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, aircraft operations, design and analysis, optimisation and structural testing
Composite Materials and Structures -damage mechanics and crashworthiness, material characterisation, multifunctional composites and nano-enhanced composites
Simulation Technologies - FEA/CFD/EFG/DES/MD, kinematic modelling, meshing, multiscale/Multiphysics, optimisation, simulation intent, systems modelling, uncertainty quantification, virtual testing and design visual analytics and big data
Clean Energy - biofuels, catalysis, life cycle assessment, power systems, turbomachinery and waste management
Biomaterials and Biomechanics - biomimetics, material characterisation, mechanobiology and medical devices.
Also, over the course of study, you can attend postgraduate skills training organised by the Graduate School, or other internal and external training courses organised through your supervisor.
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.0, with not less than 5.5 in any component (*taken within the last 2 years) is required.
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.
|Northern Ireland (NI) 1||£4,500|
|Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2||£4,500|
|England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1||£4,500|
|EU Other 3||£22,000|
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
For further information please refer to www.qub.ac.uk/brexit-advice/information-for-students.
Mechanical Engineering costs
There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.
How do I fund my study?1.PhD Opportunities
Find PhD opportunities and funded studentships by subject area.2.Funded Doctoral Training Programmes
We offer numerous opportunities for funded doctoral study in a world-class research environment. Our centres and partnerships, aim to seek out and nurture outstanding postgraduate research students, and provide targeted training and skills development.3.PhD loans
The Government offers doctoral loans of up to £26,445 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes for English- or Welsh-resident UK and EU students, £10,000 for students in Scotland and up to £5,500 for Northern Ireland students.4.International Scholarships
Information on Postgraduate Research scholarships for international students.
Funding and Scholarships
The Funding & Scholarship Finder helps prospective and current students find funding to help cover costs towards a whole range of study related expenses.
How to Apply
Find a supervisor
If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions.
To find a potential supervisor aligned with your area of interest, or if you are unsure of who to contact, look through the staff profiles linked here.
You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.