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.

Melody van Rooyen

Melody van Rooyen

Lecturer

Melody van Rooyen currently holds the position of Lecturer in the Mechanics division of the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University. She joined the department in 2020. Her PhD focuses on the development of material-efficient damage assessment techniques for service-retrieved high-energy steam piping that are exposed to creep conditions in South African fossil-fuelled power stations. These include using non-contact photomechanical techniques, such as Digital Image Correlation (DIC), over non-uniform material, stress and temperature fields. DIC results are compared with conventional and microstructural methods of damage assessment to give a holistic assessment of creep damage. Currently she is involved with projects related to small-sample testing of high-energy materials in collaboration with the University of Bristol and combining such methods with DIC available at Stellenbosch University.

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 Professor 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.

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 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.

Preyin Govender

Preyin Govender

PhD

I was born In Johannesburg, Lenasia where after years of travelling around South Africa 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 of which I have completed in 2020. I am currently enrolled as a PhD student in the Materials department with my project focused at Process development of WC-Co for Selective Laser Melting (SLM). The effects of various parameters and powder morphology on printed SLM components shall be investigated and reported.

Mpho Maje

Mpho Maje

PhD

Mpho Maje completed her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cape Town after which she completed her Master of Science in Engineering at WITS University. Mpho has over 10 years of experience working in the Refinery industry as a Plant Engineer for the Utilities section which mainly produces steam for different processes. Mpho Maje’s experience with boilers has led to her pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Mechanical Engineering at Stellenbosch University under the supervision of Prof T. Becker. She is primarily interested in the characterisation of creep damage of service exposed thermal power plant steel using small punch testing in combination with digital image correlation and scanning electron microscopy.

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.

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 Deborah Blaine. My research is aimed at developing a more economical way to produce the Ti-6Al-4V alloy using elemental and master-alloy powder metallurgy. My project is focussed on investigating the characteristics of the metal powders and how these relate to the suitability of the blended powder for use in laser powder bed fusion (LPBF). Elemental and master-alloy powder blending allows for alloying compositions that can be easily modified, which has the potential to expand research into various Titanium alloys. This project is in conjunction with a master’s project at the Central University of Technology (CUT), which looks at the additive manufacturing (AM) side of the powder blends.

Marli Heynemann

Marli Heynemann

Masters

I matriculated from Stellenberg High School in 2015. I decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Stellenbosch University, starting in 2016 and graduating in 2019. I began my master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2020 under the supervision of Prof Thorsten Becker and Dr Johan van der Merwe (Institute for Biomedical Engineering). My research project merges the fields of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Engineering. The aim of my research is to use additive manufacturing of the Ti-6Al-4V alloy to create lattice structures that mimic the anisotropic stiffness of human bone. My research will include numerical modeling in the form of FEA (finite element analysis) and mechanical testing of the lattice structures.

Tendai Shoko

Tendai Shoko

Masters

Tendai Shoko is an avid rugby player who attained his B Eng Mechatronics Engineering in 2017. He came to Stellenbosch University after spending 2 years working in industry. His master’s research aims to investigate the feasibility of implementing Digital Image Correlation (DIC) technique on a small punch test geometry on power plant steel to analyze creep damage indicators. Tendai started his masters in 2020 under the supervision of Prof T Becker and Melody van Rooyen and intends to attain his PhD in the same field. During his spare time he enjoys hiking and memes.

Hernu Viljoen

Hernu Viljoen

Masters

I was born in Mpumalanga and moved to the Western Cape in 2011. I matriculated in 2014, after which I completed a bachelor’s degree in engineering at Stellenbosch University. In 2019 I enrolled as a postgraduate student under Prof Nawaz Mahomed. The aim of my research project is to determine the effect of corrosion on the collapse pressure of a submarine pressure hull with special focus on corrosion rate determination through electrochemical techniques, Finite Element Analysis of the hull structure and material integrity analysis through non-destructive testing.

Jarryd Malcolm

Jarryd Malcolm

Masters

Having completed a BEng (Mechanical) in 2017 at Stellenbosch University, I went on to work as a Junior Design Engineer at Filtec Automation in Mount Edgecombe, KwaZulu-Natal. There I gained knowledge in the machine manufacturing industry and grew my skills in project management and machine design. I enrolled in my MEng studies in mid-2019 under the supervision of Prof. T Becker in the Materials Engineering group. My research project is aimed at determining if chemical etching laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) produced titanium alloy in the as-built condition improves the surface roughness and, hence, the total fatigue life.

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