Digital Manufacturing In-Process Quality Monitoring of Friction Stir Welding – Funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation (NSIRC182 PhD Studentship)

National Structural Integrity Research Centre


Project Description

Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is a solid state joining technique invented at TWI which is used in a variety of industries worldwide. Applications include the manufacture of trains, space vehicles, aeroplanes and cars. While the application of FSW Technology continues to grow, real time quality monitoring is needed for the automation of FSW. To date, very few significant contributions have been reported regarding in-process monitoring and adaptive control. Having an in-process real time quality monitoring system would significantly increase process acceptability, data exchange and integration with other systems, and reduce the need for post-weld destructive and non-destructive testing.

Project Outline

FSW is a joining technique that relies on localised forging and extrusion of the material to be joined around a rotating tool. There are many variables, which affect making a successful joint: process parameters, tool geometry and wear, machine stability, condition of supply of the component, work holding etc. This project will investigate how these variables affect weld quality. Sensors will be selected and retrofitted onto existing FSW machine(s) and used to assess the FSW environment and through collection and analysis of data, establish if the process is in control and (non-destructively) if a good weld is expected. Initially this would be through data analytics of high frequency force and torque signals but also use of embed sensors within the manufacturing system to gain a greater appreciation and determination of the systems level KPVs and also correlate with part quality.

This project forms part of a wider research programme in Digital Manufacturing aiming to develop intelligent manufacturing systems.

During this project the Student will develop skills and knowledge in:

  • Advanced joining,
  • Instrumentation of hardware,
  • Data capturing and analysis,
  • Materials characterisation, testing and analysis.

About Industrial Sponsor

The Lloyd’s Register Foundation funds the advancement of engineer-related education and research and supports work that enhances safety of life at sea, on land and in the air, because life matters. Lloyd’s Register Foundation is partly funded by the profits of their trading arm Lloyd’s Register Group Limited, a global engineering, technical and business services organisation.


NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with, top UK and International Universities and a number of leading industrial partners. NSIRC aims to deliver cutting edge research and highly qualified personnel to its key industrial partners.

About the University

Lancaster University is a strong and dynamic university with a very highly regarded Engineering Department. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 91% of research quality and 100% of impact was assessed as being internationally excellent and world leading. Lancaster’s approach to interdisciplinary collaboration means that it has pre-eminent capacity and capability for the integration of Engineering with expertise in the areas of data science, autonomous and learning systems, intelligent automation, materials science and cyber security. The University is developing an ambitious growth plan for Engineering, including investment in staff, doctoral students, equipment and a new building focussed on research themes including Digital and Advanced Manufacturing. Lancaster is the current Times and Sunday Times University of the Year.

Funding Information

This project is funded by Lloyds Register Foundation, TWI and academic partners. The studentship will provide successful Home/EU students with a stipend of £16k/year and will cover the cost of tuition fees. Overseas applicants are welcome to apply, with total funding capped at £24k/year.

Eligibility Requirements

Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree in:

  • Engineering (Mechanical, Controls, Manufacturing)
  • Materials science
  • Physics

Candidates with suitable work experience and strong capacity in numerical modelling and experimental skills are particularly welcome to apply. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5), if applicable.

Supplementary Information

This collaborative project will involve the majority of time spent at TWI in Cambridge, but there is an expectation that the Student will spend a proportion of their time at Lancaster University.