AMPLab Projects


AccMet - EU FP7 Project

Accelerated Metallurgy (ACCMet)

Project description – The Accelerated Discovery of Alloy Formulations using Combinatorial Principles

This is an EU FP7 Large-scale integrating collaborative project. The core concept of AccMet is to deliver an integrated pilot-scale facility for the combinatorial synthesis and testing of many thousands of unexplored alloy formulations. This facility will be the first of its kind in the world.

The novel technology that enables this facility is based on automated, direct laser fabrication (DLF).  The key feature of the new variant of the technology is the way in which a mixture of elements is accurately and directly fed into the laser's focal point.

Key partners Co-ordinated by the European Space Agency (ESA), 31 partners

Rolls Royce Plc, Centro Ricerche Fiat Scpa  Avio S.P.A ,Eads Deutschland Gmbh, Bruker Eas Gmbh  United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Ocas - Onderzoekscentrum Voor Aanwending Van Staal N.V.  (Arcelor), Norsk Titanium Components As

Johnson Matthey Plc. Magnesium Elektron Limited, Aktsiaselts Silmet , Tls Technik Gmbh & Co. Spezialpulver Kg

Renishaw plc, Granta Design Ltd,  Avantys Engineering Gmbh & Co. Kg

Stiftelsen Sintef , Flamac, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Foerderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V , Installation Europeenne De Rayonnement Synchrotron (ESRF), Institut Max Von Laue - Paul Langevin (ILL)

Cardiff University, Universitaet Ulm, Universita Degli Studi Di Torino, Universite De Rouen, Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (Riso), The University of Sheffield, The University of Cambridge, Akademia Gorniczo-Hutnicza Im. Stanislawa Staszica W Krakowie, The University of Birmingham

Total budget 60 months (started June 2011) , income to UoB €1,172,760, total project budget €21,952,868

Project website

Research Team members Prof. Paul Bowen,Dr Moataz Attallah, Dr Nick Adkins, Dr Steve McCain, Bastian Hauptstein (Dept. Of Chemistry), Tian Li (Dept.of Mechanical Engineering), Shichao Liu

SLM - Selective Laser Melting

Introduction of SLM process

Selective laser melting (SLM) is one of the new additive manufacturing techniques that emerged in the late 1980s and 1990s. During the SLM process, a product is formed by selectively melting successive layers of powder by the interaction of a laser beam. Upon irradiation, the powder material is heated and, if sufficient power is applied, melts and forms a liquid pool. Afterwards, the molten pool solidifies and cools down quickly, and the consolidated material starts to form the product. After the cross-section of a layer is scanned, the building platform is lowered by an amount equal to the layer thickness and a new layer of powder is deposited. This process is repeated until the product is completed.

This layer-by-layer process was first used to produce prototypes, but the trend is towards direct manufacture of components because of its ability to net-shape manufacture complex structures from a CAD model and a wide range of materials without the need of expensive tooling and machining so that the delay between design and manufacture is minimised. Another advantage is that the powder is melted only locally by the laser and the rest of the powder can be recycled for further fabrication. So far, here in AMPLab at the University of Birmingham, SLM has been used to selectively melt nickel-based superalloys, Ti-based alloys, Al-based alloys and Nb-based alloys to fabricate components and structures for automobile and aerospace application.


Project Description

SAMULET 3.4 is a TSB funded project to identify the optimum processing parameter and support structure for fabrication of T700 Vanes using SLM. The project involved investigation of the influence of laser processing parameter and laser scanning strategy on the microstructure and structural integrity (such as porosity) of as-fabricated Ti-6Al-4V alloy samples and the study of the influence of post-build heat treatment and hot isostatic pressing on structural integrity, microstructure and mechanical properties such as tensile, low cycle fatigue, crack propagation properties and fracture behaviour. Support structures were designed to withstand enormous stress buildup during SLM and to ensure successful fabrication of T700 vanes. Surface roughness measurement, distortion measurement by GoM laser scanning and residual stress measurement using synchrotron X-ray diffraction would also be carried out.

Key partner: TSB and Rolls-Royce plc

Total Budget: 250K

Team member: Moataz.M.Attallah, Nick.Adkin, Chunlei Qiu

Additive Manufacturing of Aluminium Alloys and Nickel Superalloys

Project Description

This project is funded by Microturbo for the research and investigation into the usage of high temperature Al alloy and Ni superalloys in the manufacture of components using SLM. Investigations into how the amount of cracks, porosity, and mechanical properties are affected by processing parameters and scanning strategy are performed. Tomography is used for the characterisation of the shapes as well as macro distribution of cracks and porosities in the laser fabricated components. Tensile and creep tests, distortion measurement by laser scan and comparison of surface treatments for laser fabricated material are proceeding.

Key partner: Microturbo

Total Budget: 200K

Team member: Moataz.M.Attallah, Noriko Read, Wei Wang and Xiqian Wang

DLF - Direct Laser Fabrication

Direct Laser Fabrication (DLF)

Project Description -

The work on Direct Laser Fabrication can be divided into four themes:

1) Fabrication of large near net-shape structures

2) Cladding / Repair / Hybrid manufacturing

3) Microstructure optimization using various laser operating modes

4) structural integrity study and microstructure characterisation


Direct Laser Fabrication (DLF) is a resource-efficient process to produce complex net-shape structures, with a potentially low buy-to-fly ratio.

In the current project the structure larger than one meter in length will be fabricated using Ti-6Al-4V. Such structure is currently considered as a challenge within the aerospace industry and is considered a technological unique activity.

Messier – Dowty

Feasibility study of using Ti-5Al-5Mo-5V-3Cr in Direct Laser Fabrication for the fabrication and repairing of the landing gear components is studied.

Key Partners

BAE SYSTEMS, Messier-Dowty, Advantage West-Midlands, Rolls-Royce

Research Team Members

Dr. Ravi AswathanarayanaSwamy

Dr. Chunlei Qiu

Dr. Moataz Attallah

Friction Welding

Friction Welding

Friction welding is classified as a solid-state welding technique, where joining takes place through intensive friction which locally heats the workpiece material into a plastic state in conjunction with an applied force. Since there is no bulk melting of the workpiece, common problems associated with fusion welding such as solidification cracking, porosity and the loss of volatile alloying elements are avoided.

Due to the high temperatures and cooling rates, as well as the extensive thermomechanical deformation associated with friction welding techniques, there are considerable changes in the microstructure and texture of the weld region leading to changes in the mechanical properties. Transient thermal cycles and mechanical deformation also lead to the development of strong residual stresses within the weld, albeit they are much lower than in conventional fusion welds.

Research work has combined microstructural characterisation using electron and optical microscopy, structural integrity (i.e. mechanical property) assessment and neutron and X-ray diffraction to improve the understanding of the process mechanisms.

Project Description:

Title (Sarah Baker – EngD)

Friction Stir Welding (FSW) of Titanium Alloys:


The main obstacle of FSW titanium alloys is the development of a tool material that can withstand the high temperatures (≥1000 ̊C) and strains associated with the process, whilst being inert with the highly reactive titanium workpiece at typical FSW temperatures. This severely limits the choice of tool materials. There has been a growing interest in the use of FSW to join aerospace titanium structures, especially to replace other joining technologies (e.g. electron beam welding). However commercial advancement awaits the development of cost effective and durable FSW tools, that can avoid wear and deposition of wear tool debris and resist the likelihood of sudden brittle failure whilst rotating and traversing through the workpiece material.

In the project, a number of tools of different materials (refractory based and ceramic) have been used to join 8 mm thick titanium sheets. Although the different tools seemed to produce sound welds, in-depth microstructural, mechanical property and residual stress characterisation was necessary to assess the tool influence on the weld properties.

The project also focuses on developing a fully coupled thermomechanical FEA model of the FSW process, capable of predicting the microstructure, mechanical property and residual stress development within a friction stir weld. Therefore reducing the costly expense of weld trials and enabling optimisation of the welding process parameters.

Title (jian Yang – PhD):

Process Characterisation and Structure-Property Modelling of Ni-based Superalloy Linear Friction Welds


Ni-based superalloy is a class of high temperature alloys, which have been widely used in the critical components of gas turbine engines. This project utilizes Linear Friction Welding (LFW), a novel solid-state joining process, to manufacture nickel-based bladed disk (blisk). It is believed that the development of Ni-based blisks through LFW can result in more significant weight savings and cost saving benefits.

There are two aims in this project. First, utilising residual stress, microhardness, microstructural characterisation to study the effect of process parameters on welds microstructure and property. Second, to model the phase variation during LFW by understanding the phase tranformations kinetics under rapid heating.

Key Partners:

Rolls-Royce plc.

Research Team Members:

Jian Yang

Sarah Baker

Moataz M. Attallah

Simon Bray

Andrew Walpole


Project Description

TSB SAMULET 4.2.2 Project (2009 – 2013) with Rolls-Royce to develop fixed tooling powder HIP process for netshape titanium and nickel superalloys aero engine components manufacturing. One of the aims of this project is to manufacture a full sized Ti-6Al-4V engine casing to demonstrate a new manufacturing process. Shape prediction is very difficult and challenging in complex net shape component manufacturing using disposal tooling, due to 3 dimensional shrinkage. This new manufacturing method shows the benefits of using fixed tooling over the existing disposable tooling method.

Key Partners

Rolls-Royce, Manufacturing Technology Centre, University of Birmingham

Research Team Members – Dr Moataz Attallah (lead), Dr Raja Khan (Research Fellow), Dr Vicky Mann (Research Fellow), Mr Vitthal Konaraddi (PhD Student), Mr Mike Glynn (HIP Technician)

COLTS - EU FP7 Project

Casting of large Ti structures (COLTS)

Project Description

The aim of this research proposal on Casting of Large Ti structures (COLTS) is to build on recent work on casting of Ti-based alloys to further develop centrifugal and gravity casting, so that large components of Ti alloys can be manufactured cost-effectively.

This proposal is in response to call AAT.2010.4.1-8 which aims to enhance strategic international co-operation between China and Europe in the field of casting of large titanium aerostructure components. The background to the project is the very significant weight saving and thus to improved fuel economy and reduced emissions which can come about through the use of Ti alloy components in some airframes and spacecraft and in aeroengines.

The potentially most cost-efficient method of production of such components is casting, and the focus of this proposal is casting of Ti alloys using clean-melting technology, skull melting, which limits the superheat of the molten alloy to about 40°C above its melting point.

Because of this limited superheat, it is necessary to use centrifugal casting or very sophisticated gravity casting, so that mould-filling can be achieved.There is considerable experience in China in centrifugal casting and gravity casting of components up to 1.5m in length and larger casting tables up to 2 and 4m in length are now in development. This proposal is thus an excellent fit for an FP7 collaborative project with China.

Two demonstrator components have been identified which will be cast from Ti6Al4V. A comprehensive data-base of the mechanical properties specified by endusers for the cast components will be obtained and an important part of the work is to further improve the properties of welded Ti structures in order to allow large components to be built up via welding if that is necessary.

Underpinning all of the experimental work there will be a comprehensive process-modelling activity.

 Key Partners –

Airbus, European Space Agency, Calcom ESI, European Aeronautics and Space Co. (EADS), Chinese Aeronautical Establishment (CAE), Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), Institute of Metal Research (IMR), Tsinghua (TSIN), CIMNE

 Total Budget


Research Team Members

Prof Mike Loretto (Project Manager)

Shelley Jukes (Project Officer)

ExoMet - Eu FP7 Project


Project description – Physical processing of molten light alloys under the influence of external fields

This is an EU FP7 Large-scale integrating collaborative project. The core concept of the ExoMet project involves developing new liquid metal processing techniques coupled with external fields (mainly for magnesium & aluminium alloys). The external fields will be used to disperse nanoparticle reinforcers into melts to produce light alloy nanocomposites.

The project will investigate the influence electromagnetic fields, electric fields, power ultrasound and high-energy liquid shearing.

Key partners Co-ordinated by the European Space Agency (ESA), 27 partners

ALD Vacuum Technologies GmbH (DE), AVIO S.p.A (IT), Brabant Alucast International B.V. (NL), Brunel University (GB), Calcom ESI (CH), Centro Ricerche Fiat S.C.p.A. (IT), EADS Deutschland GmbH (DE), European SPace Agency - Physical Science Unit (NL), GIE EADS CCR (FR), Grenoble Institute of Technology (FR), IMDEA-Materials (ES), INASMET Tecnalia San Sebastián (ES), London & Scandinavian Metallurgical Co. Ltd. (GB), Norsk Hydro ASA (NO), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NO), Politecnico di Torino (IT), PRECER AB (SE), Research Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HU), Steinbeis-Transferzentrum Advanced Risk Technologies (R-Tech) (DE), The University of Queensland (AU), Tomsk State University (RU), Université de Rouen, Sciences et Techniques (FR), University of Greenwich (GB), University of Manchester (GB), Volvo Technology Corporation (SE), University of Birmingham (GB)

Total budget 48 months (started June 2012) , income to UoB €417,926, total project budget €19,197,074

Research Team members Dr Bill Griffiths, Dr Nick Adkins, Dr Dmytro Shevchenko