Multi-functionality in 3D Printed Structures

Key Information

3D printing is a fast-growing area of interest in a number of sectors, including aerospace. Installation maintenance and retrofitting procedures can benefit greatly from the simplicity and speed available through the rapid prototyping of structures – but the most exciting benefits are expected from building multi-functional structures that are not possible through other manufacturing means. AVoptics is investigating the enhancement of 3D printed structures by including optical and electrical channels within the structures themselves. These can enable communications or power routing through the structure and can even sense stresses and environmental variations within a structure (i.e., a vehicle’s health can be monitored remotely in real-time), without the need for exposed, bulky installation hardware.  Building on a recent project funded by the MoD, we are currently exploring several methods to achieving this multi-functionality, with the research results likely to be exploited directly by our aerospace customers.  A student working with AVoptics would have access to the company’s optical fibre analysis equipment, a 3D printer, general optical and electrical lab equipment and a wealth of in-house expertise.

Project Aims


  • Tailoring 3D printing processes to accommodate channels of various materials
  • Investigating the robust termination of optical fibre at structure interfaces
  • Investigating the realisation of optical/electrical waveguides within structures, including merging printing technologies and reducing optical loss
  • Ultimately, help AVoptics design and produce demonstrations of enhanced structures relevant to our aerospace customers

Suitable Candidate


  • A background in material science, aerospace engineering, optical physics / engineering, communications or chemistry
  • General laboratory skills
  • Good communication skills, including a high proficiency in technical reporting
  • Experience with CAD packages or a willingness to learn
  • The ability to work effectively both alone and within a research team environment
Sponsoring Company AVoptics Ltd

Candidates should hold an Engineering or Physical Sciences degree with a minimum classification level of 2:1 or equivalent relevant experience. 

 Our funders require applicants to also meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must be a UK or EU citizen (i.e. eligible for ‘home’ tuition fees at the University) and have the right to work in Wales at the end of your studies.
  • You must be resident in West Wales and the Valleys at the point of enrolment and throughout the duration of your studies.
  • You must not be financially able to participate without the award of grant funding.

Further information regarding eligibility criteria can be found at: http://www.materials-academy.co.uk/eligibility

The Athena SWAN Charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and is committed to addressing unequal gender representation.


The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a tax free stipend of £12,500 p.a.

Closing Date 28 February 2018

Start Date October 2018

Apply Now

Informal enquiries about this studentship are welcome and may be directed by email to: M2A@swansea.ac.uk