Manufacturing Building

Swansea is one of the UK’s leading centres for materials teaching and research. The internationally leading materials research conducted at Swansea is funded by prestigious organisations such as Rolls Royce, Airbus, The European Space Agency, and Tata Steel.

The Materials Research Centre (MRC) has pioneered postgraduate degrees that are tailored to the needs of industry and produce top quality research. This successful approach is demonstrated by a research grant portfolio in excess of £40 million.

Our key research areas include:

  • Design against failure by creep, fatigue and environmental damage
  • Structural metals and ceramics for gas turbine applications
  • Grain boundary engineering
  • Recycling of polymers and composites
  • Corrosion mechanisms in new generation magnesium alloys
  • Development of novel strip steel grades (IF, HSLA, Dual Phase, TRIP)
  • Functional coatings for energy generation, storage and release

Find out more about the groups, projects and the staff within the centre below.

Links with Industry


The SPECIFIC project is a collaboration lead by Swansea University and Tata Steel with a range of companies such as BASF, Akzo Nobel, Pilkington and Vale Inco together with University groups from across the UK. Here university staff and postgraduates work in a shared open innovation space with industrialists to develop next generation coatings for buildings that will harvest, store and release solar energy.

Other companies sponsoring research projects include Akzo Nobel, Axion Recycling, BAE Systems, Bayer, Cogent, Ford, HBM nCode, Jaguar Land Rover, Novelis, QinetiQ, RWE Innogy, TIMET, TWI (Wales), as well as many smaller companies across the UK.

Rolls Royce

The Institute of Structural Materials at Swansea is a core member of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Materials.

This is part of a global initiative, with regular liaison with Rolls-Royce centres based in the USA, Germany and Singapore.

This venture supports a wide ranging research portfolio with a rolling value of £6.5 million per annum addressing longer term materials issues, plus a newly incorporated commercial company (Swansea Materials Research and Testing Ltd – SMaRT) to address shorter term investigations with an annual turnover in business to the value of £1 million.

Tata Steel

Funding of over £6 million to continue our very successful postgraduate programmes with Tata Steel.

This has led to new developments in areas of novel steels for automotive applications, environmentally-friendly coatings for corrosion protection and photovoltaic materials for low cost energy generation.


Over £1m funding has been received from Airbus and the Welsh Government in the last three years to support structural composites research and development in the aerospace industry and to support composites activity across Wales.

Professor Richard Johnston discusses X-ray Microtomography & 3D Printing