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ASTUTE 2020 Update September 2020

Here at ASTUTE 2020, we can support your business throughout this period of uncertainty. Our world-class academics and technical experts from across our strong Welsh Universities partnership are available to support you through research and innovation activities. If you wish to discuss opportunities for working with us e.g. to modify your production to develop solutions to support the fight against COVID-19, you can contact us via email.


Understanding the Behaviour of Materials

Materials used to manufacture components is a key area for ensuring efficient production and optimum performance of the component in service.

The special technical expertise available from the partnership covers several classes of advanced materials, which include sophisticated multi-component metallic alloys, polymeric materials and elastomers, composites, semiconductors and digital materials.

Our Academics have the expertise to interpret microscopic behaviour of these materials in terms of the underlying structures and phase transformations at the atomic scale. We have advanced techniques available for studying microstructures of materials. These include high resolution electron and optical microscopes, Atomic Force Microscopes (AFM), Energy Dispersive X-ray Analysis and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS). We also have capabilities for studying bulk degradation mechanisms, such as fatigue, high temperature creep, embrittlement etc. and surface degradation mechanisms such as oxidation, corrosion and susceptibility to Ultra Violet light. These phenomena have a critical effect on component durability.

Addressing the Industrial RD&I Need

Improved knowledge and understanding of materials utilised in existing processes and products and of introducing new materials into products and processing existing materials more efficiently.
  • The need to introduce new materials into products, to adopt more innovative techniques for processing other advanced materials,
  • To better understand materials and their behaviour.


In the area of Advanced Materials Technology, collaboration with local companies has been extensive during ASTUTE (2010-2015). Our focus is only on areas of demand where we can specifically bring established world-leading and internationally excellent expertise. Our specialisms are outlined below:


  • Metals and Alloys
  • Polymeric Materials & Elastomers
  • Composite Materials
  • Semiconductors

Manufacturing Techniques


High-Resolution Microscopy
  • Optical Microscopy
  • Electron Microscopy
  • Energy Dispersive X-ray Analysis
  • Micro and nano X-ray computed tomography (microCT)
Property Characterisation
  • Mechanical Properties
  • Electrical Properties
  • Thermal Properties
  • Magnetic Properties
Bulk Degradation Mechanisms
  • High Temperature Creep
  • Fatigue
  • Embrittlement
Surface Degradation Mechanisms
  • Corrosion and Oxidation
  • UV Resistance
Phase Transformations (Metals Only)
  • State Change (e.g. Solid/Liquid)
  • Solid State Precipitation
  • Solution Treatments
  • Eutectoid Reactions
  • Martensitic Reactions


Metal Additive Layer Manufacturing

Additive Layer manufacturing (ALM) technology is a digitally driven process that uses a high powered laser to fuse fine metallic powders in to 3D objects, direct from 3D CAD data. The metallic powder is distributed evenly across the build plate in layer thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 microns forming the 2D cross section. The layer of powder is then fused using the laser in a tightly controlled atmosphere. The process is repeated, building up parts of complex geometries, layer by layer. There is also access to a number of plastic 3D Printers.

Electron Microscopy

We have transmission and scanning electron microscopes available. These can be used for resolving microscopic phases present within a range of materials.

High Resolution Optical Microscopy

These microscopes are used particularly during sample preparation for microstructural analysis.

High-Speed Image Capture

Capture processes that occur at speeds undetectable with the human eye. The video (right) shows the high-speed video capturing the analysis of the performance of a microfluidic nozzle developed by Kautex Textron CVS Ltd. The collaborative project allowed increased understanding of the fluid flow through microfluidic nozzles.

Plasma Etching - This technique allows material surfaces to be cleaned or prepared for subsequent processing.

Laser – Material Interaction - Lasers have been used to study materials as well as part of their processing.

Atomic Force Microscopy - 3D imaging of surface topography at the nanoscale.

Energy Dispersive X-ray Analysis - Analysis of Chemical Composition.

Corrosion Analysis - Sophisticated electrochemical analysis equipment and surface potential scanning techniques can measure the corrosion resistance of materials.

Fatigue Analysis - This assesses the response of materials to repeated and vatiable forces placed upon them.

Mechanical Deformation - Instruments are used to assess how the material responds to shape-changing forces.


Case Studies Relating to Advanced Materials Technology