The Materials Engineering group, situated in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch, is working with many of the leading national and international institutions in the area of materials engineering. The level of contact varies from fully funded research projects, through to partial funding of projects or studentships, to general collaboration and interchange of knowledge and expertise.

The group has established expertise, equipment and laboratory facilities to conduct research into materials engineering related problems. Our research focuses on developing numerical-experimental techniques to obtain an understanding of material behaviour for modelling and predictive capabilities.

Our Focus

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  • Develop numerical-experimental techniques to obtain material properties.
  • Linking manufacturing processes to material performance.
  • Develop material models for predictive capabilities.
  • Material characterisation and analysis.

Our Objectives

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  • To establish a hub for expertise in Materials Engineering at Stellenbosch University that closely collaborates with local partnering universities to strengthen the skills level in South Africa.
  • To be at the forefront of academic excellence.
  • To assist South African companies through technological solutions.
  • Providing consultancy services to industry.

Principal Researchers

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Prof Thorsten Becker

Prof Thorsten Becker

Associate Professor

Prof Thorsten Becker is appointed as an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University as well as a visiting lecturer at the University of Cape Town. Thorsten runs a research group that focuses on the material performance of a large range of materials, closely collaborating with local as well as international institutions. He also serves on the chariman of RAPDASA (Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa) and as a Consultant in the industry, particularly in the field of Fracture Mechanics.

Prof Deborah Blaine

Prof Deborah Blaine

Associate Professor

Prof Deborah Blaine holds the position of Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at Stellenbosch University. She joined the department in 2007. Prior to this she was the deputy manager of materials research and development at Bleistahl Produktions, GmbH & Co. KG in Germany. Bleistahl is the second largest global manufacturer of sintered valve seat inserts and valve guides. She holds a PhD (2004) in Engineering Science and Mechanics from the Pennsylvania State University and a BEng (1996) in Mechanical Engineering from Stellenbosch University. Her research field is the mechanical behaviour of materials with specific focus on the relationships between processing-property-performance for sintered materials.

Raymond Botete

Raymond Botete

Junior Lecturer

Born and raised in Limpopo where I completed my matric. I came to Stellenbosch in 2012 to start my undergrad in Mechanical Engineering and graduated 2016. I immediately continued with master’s degree under the supervision of Prof Gerhard Venter working on the prediction of fibre waviness defect during the curing process of thermosetting composite panel with ply drop-offs. I am currently appointed as the Junior Lecture in the Mechanical and Mechatronic engineering department. I will also be doing research for PhD studies on the prediction of microstructure and composition in laser-based additive manufacturing of titanium alloys.

Llewellyn Cupido

Llewellyn Cupido

Junior Lecturer

Hailing from a country such as a Namibia, one’s natural affinity is towards heat and toughness. My interest is in understanding the effects of temperature on the properties of metals, the improvement through heat treatment, and modelling and process optimisation. With a MEng in Foundry Technology from AGH University of Science and Technology, and a MTech in Mechanical Engineering from Cape Peninsula University of Technology, I got appointed as a research engineer at the Engineering department at CPUT to establishing a technical research unit. I got involved with the local foundry industry and assisting students in linking metallurgy to mechanical engineering. This exposure contributed to my knowledge gained in aluminium, titanium and iron alloys. Currently appointed as a Junior Lecture in the Mechanical and Mechatronic engineering department, I will also continue my PhD studies on the modelling of precipitation strengthening in steels.

Postgraduate researchers

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Nur Dhansay

Nur Dhansay

Phd

Born and raised in Cape Town, I completed my high school career in 2008 at Westerford High School from which I went to studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cape Town. On completion of my undergraduate degree in 2012, I decided to further my education. I completed a Master’s degree in Materials Engineering at the Centre for Materials Engineering at the University of Cape Town, under the supervision of Professor Robert Tait and co-supervision of Thorsten Becker. I am currently in the process of pursuing a PhD, which focuses on fatigue threshold investigations of Selective Laser Melted (3D printed) titanium alloys. In particular the aim of my work is to establish life prediction capabilities of SLM produced parts to be used in biomedical and aerospace applications.

Melody van Rooyen

Melody van Rooyen

PHD

My PhD project involves the development of a Digital Image Correlation (DIC) technique capable of non-contact deformation measurements during high-temperature mechanical testing. The research aims to contribute to the life-prediction of power station components through data-rich material characterisation and property assessment and forms the foundation for my intended PhD topic. Recently, I have explored small scale samples and SEM-DIC in collaboration with the University of Bristol. The diverse skills and broad knowledge offered by members of the Materials Engineering group at Stellenbosch has stimulated my interests in Material Science and Metallography, Strength of Materials, Mathematics, Experimental Techniques, Photomechanics, Additive Manufacturing and even programming.

Gerrit Ter Haar

Gerrit Ter Haar

PhD

I am continuing with the master’s project into my Ph.D. The project concerns the qualification of Selective Laser Melted (3D printed) titanium alloys for biomedical and aeronautical industries, particularly focusing on microstructural material characteristics of SLM produced Ti-6Al-4V. My focus is on understanding the kinetics of microstructure morphology and the influence of microstructure on mechanical properties in order to design tailored post-process heat treatments. Key analysis tools that I use are EBSD and Matlab.

Devan Atkinson

Devan Atkinson

PhD

I received my bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with Cum Laude in 2016 at the University of Stellenbosch and enrolled for postgraduate studies in 2017 with Dr T. Becker as my supervisor. I am primarily interested in using numerical methods and programming to solve problems in engineering. As such my project focuses on developing an open source Digital Image Correlation program with an emphasis on allowing the user to have more control over the correlation process than Is usually offered by commercial software. The aim of this project is for this program to be used by the Material Science research group in their research efforts.

William Makhetha

William Makhetha

PhD

I am qualified with Master of Science in Engineering (MSc.Eng.) in Materials Engineering from the Centre for Materials Engineering, department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cape Town. I am currently a PhD Researcher at the Stellenbosch University with research interest in additive manufacturing (AM). My research forms part of two research groups through Stellenbosch University. The first group is the Resource Efficient Process Chain (REPC), which is aimed at finding the most efficient ways of making Titanium (Ti-6Al-4V) components for Medical, Aerospace and Automotive industries. The second group is the notional Collaborative Program in Additive Manufacturing (CPAM), which is involved with the qualification of AM for Medical and Aerospace applications. The current scope of my research is on selective laser melting (SLM) post-processing solutions. My aim is to develop a post-processing framework for SLM Ti-6Al-4V parts to meet functional requirements for the aerospace and medical industry application.

Danie Louw

Danie Louw

PhD

I am working as a physical metallurgist at the CSIR’s National Laser Centre. I have been working in the field of metal additive manufacturing since 2013, mainly focusing on high power laser powder bed fusion. I am proud to be part of the team that did initial proof of concept experiments on the Aeroswift project. I’m studying towards a Phd in Mechanical engineering with the topic ” Distortion and delamination during laser powder bed fusion”. I think that additive manufacturing is an exciting field with unique applications, but care must be taken to base expectations on facts and not just speculation.

Georgino Tshikwand

Georgino Tshikwand

Masters

I was born in Lubumbashi, DR Congo where I grew up. I went to Kanzenze Conventional Catholic High School to study General Pedagogy from which I qualified as a primary school teacher in 2009. I briefly attended UNISA where I completed a year in Applied Mathematics in 2012. I then completed my undergraduate studies in Mechanical Engineering in May of 2017 at the Gujarat Technological University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. After a one year internship completed concurrently with my final year of undergrad studies at Magalam SteelCast Pvt. Lmt. where we worked on Energy efficiency improvement and promoting “Green Foundry” , I enrolled in February 2018 at Stellenbosch University to pursue my masters studies under the supervision of Prof DC Blaine and Co-supervision of Prof Anton Du Plessis. My masters studies is focused on the design and analysis of the mechanical behaviour of Additive manufactured Titanium lattice structures. The objective of my research is to investigate the influence of lattice structures ‘geometry and additive manufacturing techniques on the mechanical properties of Additive manufactured Titanium Lattice structures.

Amukelani Manganyi

Amukelani Manganyi

Masters

I was born and raised in Limpopo. I attended primary school at Rivoningo primary in Ribungwani village, where I finished grade 7 in 2008. From 2009 I attended school in Tiyani Secondary until I matriculated in 2013. In 2014, I enrolled at Stellenbosch University to study Mechanical Engineering which I finished in 2018. I am currently doing Masters which is based on the continuation of the project I was busy with in my undergraduate studies. The project is focused on using titanium sintering to make porous structures that are to be used for water purification processes. The project is in collaboration with the research that is being conducted by the University of Western Cape.

Nicolas Macallister

Nicolas Macallister

Masters

After being born in KwaZulu Natal I moved seawards in the 3rd grade to East London where I went on to complete my schooling. Matriculating in 2014 I decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, enrolling at Stellenbosch University in 2015 and graduating in 2018. After graduation I opted continue into a masters degree in the materials science field under the supervision of my final year undergraduate project leader Prof. Thorsten Becker. My masters research aims to delve into the potential of using a small part testing methodology to accurately determine and validate the mechanical properties of a Ti64 SLM build. Validation of a Ti64 SLM build’s mechanical characteristics has potential to assist the current state of the art of Ti64 SLM to find a home in currently non-viable industry niches. Significant dimensions to the work will include non-standard mechanical testing, microstructural analysis, FEM (finite element methods) and numerical modelling, with a strong focus on fundamental research.

Jacques Piek

Jacques Piek

Masters

I was born in the Garden Route, George, where I graduated from Hoërskool Outeniqua in 2013. In 2014 I enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Stellenbosch and graduated in 2017. In 2018 I commenced my studies towards a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Stellenbosch under the supervision of Prof DC Blaine. My project is focussed on gel-casting of titanium alloys in the field of Materials Engineering. The project involves developing a gel-cast process for titanium powder that results in a gel-cast form that does not contain critical defects, characterizing dimensional changes and using this to develop a 3D gel-casting mould shape model. The aim of my research is to investigate whether it is possible to design a mould for gel-casting a titanium powder slurry that will render a net-shape sintered product with dimensional accuracy and mechanical properties similar to design criteria for metal injection moulding.

Preyin Govender

Preyin Govender

Masters

I was born In Johannesburg, Lenasia where I then moved around a lot until I settled in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. I went to school in East London at Selborne College where I matriculated in 2013. I completed my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at Stellenbosch University by 2017. I then enrolled for postgraduate studies for the year 2018 under the supervision of Prof DC Blaine. My project is focused at the Sintering infiltration of the Ti-6Al-4V alloy of which the results shall be used to determine material properties along with other various useful information which can be used to improve production for commercial and industrial usage.

Ben Parker

Ben Parker

Masters

I was born and raised in Johannesburg and went on to complete my bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Stellenbosch University in 2018. I began my master’s degree in 2019 in Mechanical Engineering under the supervision of Prof DC Blaine. My research is aimed at creating a more economical way to produce the Ti-6Al-4V alloy using elemental powder metallurgy. Research has shown that the alloy has particularly desirable material characteristics and the creation of a metal additive manufacturing (MAM) friendly powder will be highly beneficial in various MAM processes.

Our Expertise

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  • Fracture Mechanics
  • Damage Mechanics
  • Material Characterisation
  • Microstructural Analysis
  • Digital Image Correlation
  • Digital Volume Correlation
  • Powder Metallurgy Processing
  • Finite Element Analysis