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Influence of steelmaking & casting parameters on high value stainless and alloy steels for use in aerospace applications

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing

Supporting Company: Liberty Speciality Steels

Academic Supervisor: Dr. Zushu Li

WMG, University of Warwick and Liberty Speciality Steels (LSS) are seeking a top class candidate to undertake research leading to the award of an International Engineering Doctorate awarded jointly by the Universities of Warwick, Exeter and Cranfield.

As a ‘research engineer’ on our International Doctorate programme you will have unrivalled access to some of the best teaching and industrial expertise in the world, across three universities. While you will be based at University and company name, you will also spend time at Warwick and Cranfield Universities to give you the broadest possible experience. You will emerge from the four-year programme more confident and better equipped to make a difference to your company and the global marketplace.

This opportunity also provides a substantial tax free stipend equivalent to many graduate jobs.


The successful candidate will work with technical and operational experts within LSS, the University of Warwick and possibly other research organisations. They will employ various advanced tools to solve the manufacturing challenges of the highest quality steels, including data-mining and statistical analysis of the existing practices, computational modelling, monitoring and assessment of the samples from various process steps in terms of micro- and macro-structure and product cleanness, and testing of product properties. The successful candidate will focus on:

 Identifying the most important steelmaking and casting process variables that impact on product quality

 Evaluating, for selected critical steel grades, the optimum practicable processing parameters in melting that will deliver the highest quality product, as measured by material properties and through yield

 Developing methods to assess “product” quality at various stages throughout the process to allow live corrective actions, and/or screening out of sub-optimal material.

Business Need and Opportunity

Liberty Speciality Steels is a long-established world leading supplier of alloy and stainless steels into the aerospace sector. With manufacturing based in Sheffield and Rotherham, the company’s products are used in highly demanding applications such as aircraft undercarriage and wing structures, helicopter gears, oil & gas pressure systems. Steels are manufactured from high quality scrap and alloys using electric arc furnace and vacuum induction melting facilities. Casting is mainly to ingots but also continuously cast bloom, thereafter ingots are further refined through vacuum arc melting and electro-slag refining techniques. Prepared feedstock undergoes thermal-mechanical processing (annealing, rolling/forging) and billet finishing, aided by heat treatment, ultrasonic inspection and testing. Products must conform simultaneously to multiple material specifications that describe: chemical composition, macrostructure, microstructure, macro/micro-cleanness and mechanical properties (tensile, fatigue, fracture toughness). There is a critical need to identify and optimise the important process parameters from melting to casting to guarantee the highest quality products for the customers.

Entry Requirements


Candidates should have a minimum of an upper second (2.1) honours degree (or equivalent) in Materials Sciences (including Metallurgy) or a relevant engineering subject.


 High levels of innovative thought and lateral thinking

 Excellent analytical and reporting skills

 Excellent communication skills

 Strong computer skills and the ability to learn new software quickly

 Self-motivated, capable of working with minimal guidance and supervision, and within a team.

 Enthusiasm for the subject

Due to funding regulations this project is open to UK/EU students only.

The Studentship

Qualifying students an attractive enhanced stipend which could be tax and NI free depending on your personal circumstances, paid by the Centre and topped up by a contribution from Liberty Speciality Steels. For 2018 this totals approximately £20,000 tax free per annum.

The funding is for four years and will also cover University tuition fees and all course fees as well as a travel allowance to attend courses.


To apply please complete our online enquiry form and upload your CV.