Areas of expertise

  • Aerospace Manufacturing
  • Computing, Simulation & Modelling
  • Power Systems & Turbines
  • Structures and Materials
  • Welding and Laser Processing


Dr Yongle Sun is a Lecturer in Additive Manufacture. He obtained BSc (2009) and MSc (2011) in Mechanics at Xi'an Jiaotong University and PhD (2015) in Mechanical Engineering at The University of Manchester. Before joining Cranfield University, he worked as a research associate in modelling of nuclear manufacturing processes at University of Manchester. His research is closely linked to energy (nuclear, gas, etc.) and aerospace industries.

Yongle has over 10 years research experience tackling the scientific and application challenges associated with engineering materials and manufacturing processes, broadly encompassing the mechanics and manufacturing techniques for metallic alloys, lightweight protective cellular solids, and thermal barrier coatings. These materials (or material systems) and the ways to process them play crucial roles in underpinning our energy and aerospace industries.

Yongle's research interest and expertise lie in revealing and utilising the relationships between manufacturing processes, micro-/meso-scale features and mechanical properties of engineering materials and structural components. He has been developing numerical and theoretical models capable of capturing multiple physical factors across different length and time scales, to understand key mechanisms controlling material behaviour and manufacturing quality, providing practical solutions to engineering problems. He is also actively involved in experimental characterisations and measurements to validate and complement the modelling of additive manufacturing, arc / laser / electron-beam welding, material response to impact loads, oxide growth-induced stress, etc.

Examples of Yongle's contribution to his research fields include: (1) simulation and elucidation of the mechanisms for rolling-enabled mitigation of residual stress and distortion in wire arc additive manufacturing; (2) development of modelling and controlling approaches to weld dilution, in-process tempering, inter-part opening/sliding gap distortion, and transient and residual stresses in fusion welding; (3) revealed small-scale mechanisms that determine the quasi-static and dynamic compressive behaviours of metallic foams and honeycombs; (4) gained better understanding of the oxide growth-induced stress, thermal / residual stress, and failure mechanism of thermal barrier coating systems.

Yongle's achievements in research have been demonstrated through scholarly / engineering publications and industrial applications. He is the first author of 16 research papers published in leading journals and a (corresponding) co-author of other 30 journal papers, with a H-index of 19 according to Google Scholar. His PhD research on image-based characterisation and modelling of lightweight energy-absorbing foam materials constituted part of the innovative application of new techniques in X-ray imaging, for which University of Manchester was awarded Queen's Anniversary Prizes, and Yongle was selected to attend the awarding ceremony held in Buckingham Palace. One of his first-authored papers is indexed as the No. 1 on the list of most cited International Journal of Impact Engineering Articles (those published after 2017). His research findings about arc and electron-beam welding have been applied in UK nuclear energy industry to address the technical challenges (e.g., welding quality and structural integrity) associated with new nuclear manufacturing, as part of the outcome from NNUMAN and MATTEAR projects with total funding of £9M.

Research opportunities

The following research topics are available for PhD study programme:

1. Modelling-informed efficient mitigation of residual stress and distortion in large-scale additive manufacturing;

2. Inherent strain method for efficient prediction and evaluation of residual stress and distortion in wire-based additive manufacturing;

3. Modelling of in-process rolling, peening, active cooling or other mechanical working and heat treatment for metal additive manufacturing;

4. Finite element heat source and weld bead profile modelling informed by molten pool fluid dynamics;

5. Lattice structure printing and optimisation using metal wire additive manufacturing;

6. Residual stress and distortion of additively manufactured parts made of alloys subject to solid state phase transformation;

7. Design, development and evaluation of hybrid additive manufacturing.

Applications for PhD study are welcome! The above research topics are closely linked to an ongoing £7M NEWAM research programme (

Please contact Dr. Yongle Sun or the admission team of the Cranfield Manufacturing & Materials Theme for more details about the PhD research opportunity.

Current activities

Yongle's current research is focused on modelling and enhancing metal additive manufacturing (particularly for wire-based directed energy deposition) and its ancillary processes. He is working on developing mechanism-underpinned novel additive manufacturing process design and effective quality-improving techniques for additively manufactured components. He is bridging the highly predictive but less efficient mechanistic models at small scales, as derived from fundamental principles, with more versatile and efficient but partially empirical models at large scales, which are best suited for engineering analysis. Ultimately, his research would lead to an integrated cross-scale and multi-physics modelling approach for predicting, understanding and controlling the molten pool, grain growth, solid state phase transformation, distortion, and transient / residual stress, thereby enhancing metal additive manufacturing.

Yongle has been contributing to his research fields as an author of research papers, as wells as a reviewer for over 30 international journals (e.g., Additive Manufacturing, Acta Materialia, Virtual and Physical Prototyping, International Journal of Plasticity, International Journal of Mechanical Sciences). Currently, he is a co-investigator for three large research projects (total funding >£10M) on metal wire-based additive manufacturing (NEWAM, SAM and I-Break) and a referee for research proposals submitted to European Research Council. He has been actively engaging with energy and aerospace industries for applying his research outcomes in making real-world difference.

Yongle also serves the research / industry community through the following roles:

- Member, Manufacturing Process Simulation Working Group and Metallic Additive Manufacturing Focus Group; NAFEMS, 2020 - Present

- Member, BSI WEE/37/-/4 Residual Stress Panel; The British Standards Institution, 2022 - Present

- Topic / Review Editor, Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering, Frontiers in Materials; Frontiers Media S.A., 2020 - Present

- Topic / Guest Editor, (1) Journal of Manufacturing and Materials Processing; (2) Coatings; (3) Metals. MDPI, 2020 - Present


- GE Avio Aero


- Airbus

- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

- Innovate UK


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers