Engineering: M2A Funded EngD Studentship at Swansea University: Coil Coatings – An Investigation into Expedited Plastisol Degradation Related to Poor Coating Adhesion

  • Full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • Deadline: September 11, 2017
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Swansea University is a UK top 30 institution for research excellence (Research Excellence Framework 2014), and has been named Welsh University of the Year 2017 by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

Sponsoring Company: AkzoNobel

Start date: October 2017

Coil coating is a continuous, automated process for coating metal (aluminium or steel) before fabrication. The metal, in the form of a rolled coil, is positioned at the front of the coating line and in one continuous process it is unwound, cleaned, chemically treated, primed, oven cured, top-coated and oven cured again before being re-coiled at the end of the line. This process occurs at a rate of 60 m/min.

As the metal is handled in a single, continuous pass the process allows for a large amount of diversity including different cleaning methods, alternative chemical treatments, a range of primer systems and a wide selection of coating technologies. Both organic and inorganic coatings are used including, but not limited to, polyesters, epoxies, vinyls, acrylics, polyurethanes and PVC plastisols.

Coil coating provides aesthetically pleasing products with durable, corrosion resistant surfaces. Pre-coated metal is used in a variety of applications including products such as building panels, metal roofs, interior wall panels, garage doors and domestic appliances.

The choice of top-coat depends on the end-use of the product. For external applications such as building facades a more durable, corrosion resistant coating, such as plastisol, is desirable.

There are many types of failure mode associated with plastisol coatings, most of these result in loss of adhesion. Plastisol is susceptible to degradation induced by excessive heat or prolonged exposure to UV wavelengths. Plastisol degradation results in loss of colour, decrease in gloss and reduction in flexibility. In situ failures of plastisol coatings have been reported with an increase in the rate of coating degradation occurring when there has been a prior failure in adhesion.

The focus of this project is to investigate the various coating failure mechanisms and understand why adhesion failure results in expedited plastisol degradation.

This is an excellent opportunity for a research engineer to work with a leading global coatings company to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms associated with coating failure. The results of this work could lead to the future optimisation of coating formulations.

The research engineer will be based at Swansea University, but will have regular contact with the industrial supervisor.

Project Aims

Plan and conduct an analytical investigation, using an array of techniques, to understand the mechanisms of adhesion failure related to coil coated PVC plastisol over steel substrate.

The matrix of variables to be investigated should include:

Substrate gradeGalvanisation typeSubstrate thicknessCleaning methodChemical pre-treatmentPrimer typePlastisol colour (pigment type can affect coating application and performance)Primer cure temperaturePVC plastisol cure temperature

Once the mechanisms of adhesion failure have been determined the newly acquired knowledge of local chemical interactions will be used to understand why coating disbondment results in expedited plastisol degradation.

The Athena SWAN Charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and is committed to addressing unequal gender representation.


Candidates should hold an Engineering or Physical Sciences degree with a minimum classification level of 2:1 or equivalent relevant experience. This project would be suitable for someone with a degree in Chemistry or Materials Science with a good understanding of analytical techniques.

Our funders require applicants to also meet the following eligibility criteria:

You must be a UK or EU citizen (i.e. eligible for ‘home’ tuition fees at the University) and have the right to work in Wales at the end of your studies.You must be resident in West Wales and the Valleys at the point of enrolment and throughout the duration of your studies.You must not be financially able to participate without the award of grant funding.

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The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a tax free stipend of £20,000 p.a.


Please visit our website for more information.

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