Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Associate Professor Colin Hall

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
16 Oct 2022

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$35,000 p.a. (International & Domestic)

About This Project 

There are currently 2 positions available for this exciting research project;

Position 1 - Advancing Electron Beam Melting (EBM) manufacturing capability for space and defence applications
Position 2 - EBM design for manufacture and process development for new materials

Additive manufacturing (AM) of titanium (e.g. Ti6Al4V), copper and nickel based superalloys (e.g. Inconel 718 and Invar) has been used to fabricate high specific strength, temperature, corrosion and fatigue resistant components of jet engines, gas turbine in aerospace and defence industries. However, Australia is still trailing in AM research in nickel based superalloys behind other developed countries. 

Electron Beam Melting (EBM) a type of AM process which uses an electron beam in vacuum to melt and sinter the metal powders to form 3D parts. EBM manufacture of new nickel based super alloys requires significant design and optimisation of these process parameters to yield high quality product for specific application. Thus, a key research focus will be the development of a Design for Manufacture via EBM capability.  Further, due to the nature of it’s process mechanics, EBM components have a rough surface which requires postprocessing to meet the functional requirements. To address this issue, this project will focus on advancing EBM processes for the manufacture of nickel based super alloys for space applications.

The project is an extension of the research team’s existing research on Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) for AM and surface engineering of Mg alloys with ball burnishing and shot peening. The project will take a proof-of-concept of developing EBM nickel based super alloys which are being relatively new to the AM industries. Therefore, the current project will endeavour to address the underlying issues associated with EBM nickel based alloys and explore its robust application for the manufacture of space/defence components.

The main outcomes of this project are to: 
  1. develop a reliable, simple and robust AM and surface modification technique for EBM nickel based super alloys with improved surface and mechanical integrity 
  2. generate extensive new knowledge and skill in advanced material and surface engineering for the manufacture of AMed metal alloys for its wider applications, hence contributing to the scientific community 
  3. foster highly trained and diversely skilled postgraduates with in-depth research experience and capacity in additive manufacturing, surface engineering, material science and engineering for Australia’s future workforce in emerging manufacturing industries

Anticipated engagement resulting from this project that will benefit the project team and future HDR candidate are: 
  1. continuation and reinforcement of active collaboration across researchers in university and industry 
  2. opportunities to engage with new AM industry partners and related end-users, and to exchange scientific knowledge and skill in AM and surface engineering
The findings of the project will result in the following potential impact:
  1. Production ready process for nickel based alloys
  2. IP commercialisation for EBM nickel based alloy components

What you’ll do 

The main objectives of this project are to:
  1. Develop design for manufacture principles for EBM
  2. Design and optimise EBM process for the manufacture of high quality nickel based super alloys components 
  3. Develop a plasticity burnishing surface modification strategy for EBM nickel based super alloys
  4. Characterise rigorously critical surface and mechanical properties of as-built and modified EMB components 
  5. Compare and validate the performance of the optimised EBM components with that manufactured by conventional techniques

The candidates are be expected to attend meetings, present and develop their communication skills. Working across vibrant and engaging STEM and FII groups, the candidates will be given an opportunity to build their social and professional networks. In the course of the project, the candidates will collaborate with industry partners and external stakeholders and be exposed to EBM technology, processes and practice in real world industry setting. The candidates will be exposed to STEM and FII¿s state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and tools required to implement the project activities. Groups often host undergraduate intern and vacation scholarship students, giving PhD students the opportunity to develop their supervisory skill. In addition, the candidates will potentially have the chance to participate in undergraduate teaching in mechanical, manufacturing and material engineering courses at STEM, which will allow them to develop their communication and teaching & research nexus skill.

Where you’ll be based

The student will predominantly work across UniSA STEM and Future Industries Institute (FII) groups.  

Supervisory Team 
Financial Support 

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $35,000 per annum, payable for 3 years (no extension) is available to eligible applicants. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $45,076 per annum. A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students.

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally, applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:
  • Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science or equivalent, with Honours
  • Demonstrated high level of English-language and computer literacy, including verbal and written presentation of scientific results to various stakeholders.
  • A record of peer reviewed publications commensurate with opportunity and showing evidence of the applicant’s creativity and innovation.
  • Experience in preparation and interpretation of metallographic samples and subsequent analysis via indentation, SEM, XRD and other analytical techniques
  • Demonstrated capability in CAD software for 3D printing
Applicant who can also demonstrate the following will be highly regarded: 
  • Experience in metal additive manufacture (such as selective laser deposition, laser cladding, thermal spray etc.)
  • Industrial experience in fabrication/engineering style workshop
All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our Mawson Lakes campus in the north of Adelaide. 

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Sunday, 16 October, 2022.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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