Rapid prototyping and tooling of automotive seal mouldings

Key Information

Aston Martin is an exclusive luxury sports car company with a unique British heritage. The iconic brand fuses the latest technology, exceptional hand craftsmanship and graceful styling to produce pioneering models including the DB11, Rapide S, Vanquish S, Vantage S and the Vanquish Zagato. Based in Gaydon, England, Aston Martin designs and creates sports cars offering style and performance which are sold in 53 countries around the world.

Founded in 1913, the company recently launched its Second Century plan for sustainable long-term growth. This is underpinned by the introduction of new models including the DB11, new Vantage, RapidE and DBX concepts and the revival of Lagonda with the Lagonda Taraf as well as the development of a new manufacturing centre in St Athan, Wales. Aston Martin, which is privately owned, employs 2,800 people.

The Body Exterior engineering team works within the Product Development department to deliver component designs in line with Aston Martin’s exacting quality and performance targets for new vehicle programmes including DBX.  Static and dynamic sealing systems for doors, glazing, luggage compartment and bonnet are part of the Body Exterior scope

A key challenge facing sealing system engineers is achieving robust designs for seal extrusions and mouldings that allow competitive wind noise and water management performance whilst minimising visible seals which can be detrimental to the aesthetic appearance and perceived quality of the vehicle. These designs need to be closely matched to the body and the closures and account for the full range of build tolerances expected during manufacture. Seal designs can be subject to multiple iterations during the development process as the design of both the exterior surfaces and the underlying structure matures.

The use of rapid prototype parts has become common practice for developing and evaluating the designs of many interior and exterior components. These allow physical tests to be carried out on rigs or prototype vehicles prior to design freeze and start of production tooling manufacture. At present there is no method available for producing rapid prototypes of EPDM (Ethylene propylene diene monomer) seal mouldings with performance and properties representative of production parts. Therefore the only way to physically validate seal designs is to use parts from production moulding tools which often have long lead times and require significant investment costs. This can result in late identification of problems and risks additional costs for modification or replacement of tooling if any design changes are required.

Project Aims

This project aims to identify potential methods of producing prototype seal mouldings with performance and physical properties comparable to ‘conventional’ EPDM injection moulded parts. The feasibility and costs of applying these methods will be investigated using case studies with typical seal mouldings used on Aston Martin vehicles. The components produced need to be suitable for build trials and physical testing during the pre-production phases and possibly for small production runs for special vehicle programmes. Potential areas of investigation could include rapid prototyping of seal components and/or rapid prototyping of mould tooling.

The project will involve spending some time at AML Gaydon as well as occasional visits to sealing system suppliers in UK and mainland Europe.

Suitable candidate 

Background in Materials or Mechanical engineering with an interest in polymers, and a knowledge of rapid prototyping technique applicable to both polymers and metals




Dr Andrew Rees



Sponsoring Company Aston Martin Lagonda Limited

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.
  • We would normally expect the English Language requirements to be met by point of interview (April 2018). For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit – http://www.swansea.ac.uk/admissions/englishlanguagerequirements/

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 2017

Apply Now

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