Cracking the complexities of metal processing

The Royal Academy of Engineering has appointed Professor Hongbiao Dong to a five-year Research Chair at our University, with the aim of developing a step change in metal processing.

The Royal Academy of Engineering / TWI Research Chair in Innovative Metal Processing will establish a world-leading metal research hub, specialising in new experimental techniques and models to understand the fundamental mechanisms underlying cracking and defect formation during welding, casting and metal 3D printing. This will include the development of new real-time imaging and computer models that can predict cracking during processing and environmentally induced failure in service.

By better understanding the physics behind defect formation, particularly in welding and metal 3D printing, Professor Dong will also provide strategies for the metal industry to design and optimise metallic components and structures with improved performance.

The metal industry accounted for 46% of EU manufacturing value in 2012, and makes a significant contribution to future challenges faced by society – from modern transport systems to a secure energy supply. The development of better-optimised processing techniques is of particular importance in high-value applications where metals are used in areas that are difficult to access and maintain – such as gas turbines and deep sea pipelines, where the effects of metal failure can be extremely damaging. A study on the metals used in gas and oil transportation systems forms the first project for the new Chair.

Professor Hongbiao Dong, from our Department of Engineering, said: “The welding industry has traditionally supported a diverse set of companies across the shipbuilding, pipeline, automotive, aerospace, defence and construction sectors. The scientific aspects of this project are exciting but challenging.

“Through the partnership with TWI we aim to deliver 'use-inspired' research that meets both the current and future needs of metal industry. We are collaborating with the best people in their fields to achieve maximum benefit for the metal industry. It will be exciting when we all come together and a synergy develops from this collaboration between academia and industry”