Fully Funded PhD Position by InvestNI

There is one very exciting InvestNI fully funded PhD projects on control, automation, 3Dprinting, and manufacturing based at the NIBEC R&D Centre here at Ulster University.

Deadline to apply: 12th March 2021. URL: Click here.

Here are some brief details about the project:
1) Advancements in Control of Rapid Prototyping of Biosensing Devices Using Model-based and Data-driven Techniques Summary: Rapid prototyping (RP) is an ever-growing field of research, gaining track and interest towards the advancements in automation and manufacturing. Given that the process from design to product in conventional manufacturing practice can be time and cost intensive, modern RP techniques such as 3D printing allow for faster and customised manufacturing of parts in shorter times, hence providing designers with the freedom and flexibility to modify and improve on the design during the whole development process.

One of the areas that has been benefiting much from the advancements in RP is the fabrication of biosensors for healthcare research and diagnostics. With the ability to provide a quick solution for a combination of bespoke biosensors and biomarkers catered to various requirements for prognostics and diagnostics, the use of RP has been proven critical in scaling diagnostics during times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there also exist a few technological and research gaps in the current RP techniques, in particular 3D printing methods. For example, a majority of the 3D printers, be it commercial or custom-made, are operating based on an open-loop control architecture. As a result, the lack of an effective feedback control mechanism does not allow for precise motion control of the build plate and nozzle in the x-, y-, and z-axes. Given the wear-and-tear of parts due to the mechanical movements over time, the machines have to be constantly calibrated and serviced to ensure that the system is operating well. Furthermore, the lack of feedback control also affects the robustness of the system towards unwanted disturbances and noise in the electrical signals, which could affect the quality for advanced manufacturing and thus, compromising shape accuracy.

Proposed Innovative Solution: The project will first explore the various “in-the-loop”, i.e. software-, model-, and hardware-in-the-loop (SIL, MIL, HIL) techniques for the design and development of the control architecture. Then, using model-based controller-observer design methods with a vision-based sensor, e.g. CCD etc., for feedback, precise motion control can be achieved for the build plate and nozzle in the x-, y-, and z-axes. Thirdly, a combination of model-based and data-driven technique will also be explored to enhance the robustness of the control algorithm such that the system can compensate for the disturbances and noise in the electrical signals for advanced manufacturing. This technique also allows for a fault diagnosis scheme to detect potential wear-and-tear in the hardware mechanism due to prolonged operation of the system and for fault-tolerant to be performed to compensate the degradation in the performance of the system.


We are also looking for postdoctoral researchers to join our active and growing team. Candidates should have a Ph.D. in Control/E&E/Mechatronics Engineering or equivalent qualifications. Interested candidates are welcome to enquire and seek contact for discussions or information on open positions.

Interested candidates are also encouraged to seek contact for hosting and support of research fellowship opportunities through the following funders: