Dr Robert Kay

Dr Robert Kay


I am an Associate Professor in Advanced Manufacturing at the University of Leeds with extensive experience in manufacturing processes research both in industrial and academic environments. Throughout my career, I have developed disruptive manufacturing techniques and exploited these ideas to benefit industry, society and scientific research. During my doctoral studies, I developed a novel electroforming process: (R. W. Kay, “Electroformed component manufacture.” WO Patent WO2007063331A1, 12-Aug-2004). To commercialise my research, I founded MicroStencil Limited in 2003, where I secured equity funding [Herald Scotland News Article], scaled the technology for commercial production, built a diverse customer base with leading electronic manufacturing firms, and established a manufacturing partnership licence in Asia. This commercialisation experience which spanned the development of a new manufacturing concept through the full Technology Readiness Levels (TRL1-9) formed the basis of an industrial case study for Heriot-Watt University under REF2014.

With a combined background in fundamental scientific research and enterprise, I started my first academic post in 2012 with the vision of interleaving disparate digital fabrication processes to create new capabilities within engineered functional devices. This vision allowed me to secure blue-sky funding routes within the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as Principle Investigator to successfully develop speculative manufacturing concepts, and to work with a range of industrial partners, translating academic research into the engineering sector. In particular, this funding aided the development of fundamental science in additive manufacturing and direct write processing. This synergistic combination has enabled multi-material arrangements and compositional complexity which aims to provide transformative routes for producing next-generation products. I have published over 75 journal and conference papers covering topics in manufacturing, materials, electronics, computational modelling, and chemistry. I am a very active participant in my research community with success in all my projects driven by multi-disciplinary, collaborative teams that include academic institutions, industrial partners, High-Value Manufacturing Catapults, and NHS clinicians. I am also keen to inspire the next generation into science and engineering through research-led teaching, research lab placements and outreach activities.



Research interests

My research is focused around developing digital fabrication processes for the manufacture of functional devices spanning a range of application areas and industries including high-performance ceramics, medical devices, electronic systems and wearable technology.

Current Research includes:

  • 3D Manufacture of Advanced Engineered Ceramics 
  • Digital Fabrication of high-performance electronics
  • Creation of condition monitoring systems for orthopedic implants
  • Hybrid Manufacturing Processes Research




<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Electroformed Stencil Manufacture using Microfabrication techniques
  • Beng Electrical and Electronic Engineering
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>