After completing a Mechanical Engineering degree in the Netherlands, Thomas had the opportunity to travel to Australia, and ended up studying a Master’s degree at Deakin University. He then ended up working for Mineral Technologies in the Gold Coast for the past 10 years, focusing mainly on steel work. When the opportunity to do a PhD that revolved around plastics came up, he decided that it was an opportunity too good to be missed.
University of Technology Sydney
Dr. Gavin Paul and Assoc. Prof Dongbin Wei
Mineral Technologies is in the business of separating minerals from sand, and one of their key products is a helical spiral which separates a mineral slurry into its separate mineral components. Mineral Technologies and UTS wanted to investigate if the latest plastic 3D printing technologies could be applied to manufacture these spirals. Key benefits of applying new manufacturing process to spiral is significant reduction of hazards and providing new business opportunities.
Thomas’s role in the project is to determine the final spiral shape that needs to be printed which ensures a service life of 10 years. Such a long term performance guarantee is a challenging aspect as the influence of external stressors such as humidity, damaging UV rays, temperature fluctuation and ageing continuously change the material properties of plastics over time.
Q. What do you like most about the research and your PhD?
The major challenge for me is to get my head around plastics and composites as they behave very differently to steel. Unlike good old steel, which stays roughly the same over time, plastic properties tend to change as time progresses. This difference is both a challenge and a great learning opportunity….
Q: How do you feel about an industry-led research project?
When completing my Master’s degree, I specifically chose an industry project to balance out the theoretical side of my university education.. So doing a purely theoretical PHD is not where my interest lies. This industry-based PhD has a clear goal and desired outcome which helps me focus my efforts and choices in ways that a theoretical PhD never could…