Dr Nick Weston
MEng, PhD, MIMMM
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
+44 114 222 6030
Full contact details
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Sir Robert Hadfield Building
Nick has been a Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) in the Sheffield Titanium Alloy Research (STAR) group, led by Prof Martin Jackson, since August 2016. He also completed his undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering and a PhD in Metallurgy at The University of Sheffield.
Nick focuses on projects using the solid-state processing, in particular Field Assisted Sintering Technology, of metal powders to produce cost-effective components for aerospace, automotive, and defence applications. His current research project (FAST STEP 3) aims to recycle waste titanium alloys through the FAST and FAST-forge processes to produce affordable engine components for the automotive industry. This work has been featured as a case study for the Henry Royce Institute.
Nick is passionate about Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) and sits on the Department’s EDI Committee where he advocates on behalf of research staff and PGR students and promotes the particular challenges faced by these groups. He also coordinates the Department’s Materials Researchers’ Forum, which as a supportive community space for research staff to share good practice, provide peer support, and encourage career development.
- 2011 - 2016: PhD Advanced Metallic Systems CDT, University of Sheffield
- 2007 - 2011: MEng Aerospace Engineering (1st Class Honours), University of Sheffield
- Research interests
Nick’s principal research interest lies in developing the capabilities of field assisted sintering technology (FAST) in order to utilise its unique solid-state processing capabilities to produce affordable materials and components.
Nick’s previous research projects developed an understanding of the effect of the FAST process on the consolidation, microstructural evolution, and mechanical properties of titanium alloy powders and particulates. Initial investigations created simple shaped specimens that were fully dense and microstructurally homogeneous. However, the geometries and microstructures produced via FAST in isolation were not those typically required for finished structural components. Therefore, a technique was developed where a subsequent one-step hot forging operation after FAST processing provided near net-shape parts with a refined microstructure. This hybrid cost-effective processing route, termed "FAST-forge", may enable a step-change in the economics of titanium alloy components for aerospace, automotive, and defence applications, where titanium’s high price has historically restricted its usage.
FAST offers interesting opportunities as part of a processing route, for many materials, to solve real-world industrial manufacturing problems. Although, there remain limitations to be understood and overcome, which are guiding current and future research: (1) Improvements in FAST specimen geometric complexity and moving towards near net-shape. (2) Microstructural control and manipulation, including subsequent post-FAST processing. (3) Joining of dissimilar alloys and materials via FAST. (4) FAST modelling/simulation for improved process control and component optimisation.
- FAST-forge of titanium alloy swarf: A solid-state closed-loop recycling approach for aerospace machining waste. Metals, 10(2). View this article in WRRO
- FAST-DB: A novel solid-state approach for diffusion bonding dissimilar titanium alloy powders for next generation critical components. Journal of Materials Processing Technology, 269, 200-207. View this article in WRRO
- Processing metal powders via field assisted sintering technology (FAST): a critical review. Materials Science and Technology, 35(11), 1306-1328.
- Thermomechanical processing of a high strength metastable beta titanium alloy powder, consolidated using the low-cost FAST- forge process. Journal of Materials Processing Technology, 254, 158-170.
- On a Testing Methodology for the Mechanical Property Assessment of a New Low-Cost Titanium Alloy Derived from Synthetic Rutile. Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A, 48(11), 5228-5232. View this article in WRRO
- FAST-forge − a new cost-effective hybrid processing route for consolidating titanium powder into near net shape forged components. Journal of Materials Processing Technology, 243, 335-346. View this article in WRRO
- Spark plasma sintering of commercial and development titanium alloy powders. Journal of Materials Science, 50(14), 4860-4878. View this article in WRRO
Conference proceedings papers
- Development of titanium alloy powders produced via the metalysis process. Proceedings Euro PM 2017: International Powder Metallurgy Congress and Exhibition
- Exploitation of Spark Plasma Sintering and One-Step Forging for Cost-Effective Processing of Titanium Alloy Powders (pp 123-128)
- Teaching activities
- Supervision/mentoring/training of PhD students in the Sheffield Titanium Alloy Research group.
- Supervision of 10 final year undergraduate individual research project students.
- Active mentor in the University of Sheffield’s Thesis Mentoring Programme; mentoring 5 PhD students since July 2017.
- Media and public engagement
Nick and Prof Jackson’s research developed the ‘FAST-forge’ process, which has featured in a number of media publications:
- UK Government website news article “Porton Down scientists on brink of titanium revolution”, where the Secretary of State for Defence said: “This ground-breaking method is not only faster and cheaper but could see a huge expansion of titanium parts and equipment throughout the military. It is a clear example of how our world-class scientists are working behind the scenes to help our Armed Forces as well as bringing prosperity and security to Britain.”
- News item on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme and interviews with BBC World Service’s World Business Report, BBC Radio Wiltshire Drivetime, BBC Radio Sheffield Drivetime, and Forces TV.
- IMechE’s website news articles “Sheffield’s titanium revolution to meet tomorrow’s aerospace manufacturing needs” and “Production process promises cheaper titanium alloy components”.
- IOM3’s Materials World magazine article “The FAST-forge Process: Titanium Vs. Steel”.
- ASM’s Advanced Materials and Processes magazine article “Titanium Production Forges Ahead”.