Development of 4D printed actuators with integrated temperature-controlled triggering system for defence applications

The interest in additive manufacturing is currently growing exponentially in industry. The technology could reduce the environmental impact associated with conventional manufacturing processes and transform the concept of smart materials as known today. It has strong potential to conceive offbeat 4D printed smart devices such as actuators, sensors, robots and self-deployable structures with the outstanding capacity to change their shape and mechanical properties under the right external stimuli, however, further research is needed to fully understand the limits of the technology and establish a steady field for its implementation. Special attention has been recently given to self-bending actuators, which can be triggered by external heat, however, further development is required to control the thermal gradients along large components and provide a reliable behaviour for defence applications.

Within this context, the aim of this project is to develop 4D printed self-bending actuators with an integrated temperature-controlled triggering system able to operate under extreme loading conditions such as impact. The developed actuators will incorporate an electrical circuit able to control the thermal gradients along large components by joule effect. Self-bending actuators will be manufactured as hinges in flat layered configurations that can be deployed afterwards with the change in electrical current. Optimisation of 3D printed patterns will be carried out by numerical simulation and most promising configurations will be manufactured and subjected to low velocity impact tests to ensure the reliability under extreme loading conditions.

The Phd will be carried out between UK and France; the student will work at the University of Edinburgh (UK) and at ESTACA (France). Informal inquiries can be made to:

with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. 

Closing Date: 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 

Thuy Quynh Truong Hoang (ESTACA University)


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Tuition fees + stipend are available for UK/French students for 3 years (funding agency: DSTL-MoD-UK)

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: