Surgeon-led design of cranial plates: integrating engineering analysis and understanding PhD

Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering
Entry requirements:
3 years
Not available
Reference number:
UK/EU fees:
International fees:
Application deadline:
01 April 2018



in the UK for research quality

REF 2014


in the UK for Mechanical Engineering

The Complete University Guide 2018


of 2 Queen's Anniversary Prizes


Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. 

Project detail

Customised medical implants are widely used in healthcare for applications such as craniofacial reconstruction after trauma or tumour removal. These one-off implants are designed and manufactured for the individual patient’s needs. Often, the surgeon is given freedom to design the shape and attachment method of medical implants. However, few methods are available to support the surgeon with engineering analysis.

For example, a titanium cranial plate that replaces a large section of the cranium may be fixed with any number of screws as deemed appropriate by the surgeon. Many other aspects of the design are also adjustable, including the shape of the plate and how it interfaces with the bone.

In this project, the successful candidate will develop new understanding of how implant design affects the performance of medical implants including:

  • deformation of the implant under loading
  • stresses induced in the patient’s bone by fixation screws

Depending on the successful candidate work may include:

  • Experimental: 3D print a human skull model and test a range of cranial plates, which will either be manufactured at the university or obtained directly from a hospital.
  • And/or computer modelling: Finite element analysis or analytical models will be developed to simulate cranial plates and optimise their design.

The ultimate aim is generate new implant design methods to improve patient outcomes.

Depending on the successful candidate, there may be opportunities to work with hospital surgeons who manufacturing the implants in the hospital and with medical product manufacturers in the UK, Finland or Spain.


Primary supervisors: Dr Andy Gleadall

Find out more

For further project details email Dr Andy Gleadall or register your interest and ask us a question

Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in a subject related to Engineering, Physics or Mathematical Sciences. Please enquire if you are unsure of your suitability and the project can be adapted to the strengths of a successful candidate.

A relevant Master's degree and / or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: Engineering, Physics or Mathematical Sciences.

All students must also meet the minimum English Language requirements.

Fees and funding


Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Special arrangements are made for payments by part-time students.

This is an open call for candidates who are sponsored or who have their own funding. If you do not have funding, you may still apply, however Institutional funding is not guaranteed. Outstanding candidates (UK/EU/International) without funding will be considered for funding opportunities which may become available in the School.

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under programme name select Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. Please quote reference number: AG051017