Postdoctoral vacancy (3 years) on design and finite element modelling of 3D printed orthoses and prostheses


3D printing or Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies carry the promise of revolutionizing the quality and efficiency of healthcare. However, the required technologies, even when available, are currently too fragmented to be integrated into routine, affordable and streamlined solutions that can benefit a large number of patients. The challenge thereby is to deliver 3D printing technologies that enable:

  • Patient-specific solutions: personalized medical devices that are designed using the images acquired for individual patients and best fit their treatment needs;
  • Complexity and miniaturization: complex shapes, articulations and miniaturized geometries of orthotics/prosthetics and instruments have the potential to radically enhance treatment effectiveness and post-treatment recovery;
  • Streamlined care: the ability to integrate diagnosis, design and manufacturing of AM medical devices into a validated software platform is the key to delivering fast, affordable treatments with dramatic life-saving potential.

The INTERREG project 3DMed aims to improve affordability and large-scale accessibility of medical treatment using 3D printed devices. This will be achieved by increasing the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of state-of-the-art 3D printing technologies for medical applications and integrating them into a streamlined, fast, cost-effective software platform for use in routine clinical practice.
This project contains 17 partners from The Netherlands, Belgium, France and United Kingdom, including universities, hospitals, software suppliers, 3D printing companies, clinical observers, manufacturers of medical devices and implants,… The project is coordinated by TUDelft.

In this Postdoctoral position, it is the purpose to develop patient-specific design and finite element modelling of 3D printed orthoses and prostheses (an orthosis is an externally applied device used to modify the structural and functional characteristics of the neuromuscular and skeletal system, while a prosthesis an artificial device replaces a missing body part). This position requires an in-depth knowledge of advanced design, finite element modelling and topology optimization, based on the processing and segmentation of patient-specific medical images.
Important criteria that will be investigated, are: (i) stress limits for a fatigue-safe design (under multi-axial loading); (ii) critical stress concentrations due to certain geometrical discontinuities; (iii) stiffness match (or mismatch) with surrounding body parts; (iv) thermal behaviour of the part at body temperature.
Different orthoses and prostheses will be covered and a close collaboration will be required with the researchers at TUDelft, clinical observers, AM service providers and software companies.

Only candidates with a PhD degree or equivalent experience should apply. The candidate should have a strong background in design and FE modelling for medical applications. He/she will closely work together with the other postdoc in the team (see other vacancy) and is willing to travel frequently to meet and discuss with the other project partners in the neighbouring countries.

Contact person?

The responsible person at Ghent University is Prof. Wim VAN PAEPEGEM. He has 15 years of experience in mechanics of composites and finite element simulations. More information on the achievements of the research group can be found on

Who do we look for?

  • you are interested in research and have obtained a Master and/or PhD degree,
  • you are interested to interact and collaborate closely with the industrial partners during the research period,
  • you have an education in Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computational Mechanics, or similar,
  • you are familiar with mechanics of materials and experimental or computational techniques (depending on the specific vacancy requirement mentioned above),
  • mastering the Dutch language is not a prerequisite, but a good knowledge of English writing and speaking is absolutely required.

What do we offer?

  • you will be working in a dynamic environment. Our group has expanded quite fast the last few years and currently, 14 postdoc's and 15 PhD students are working in our group. Besides, 18 PhD students have successfully obtained their PhD degree in the last five years,
  • we have extensive experimental and numerical facilities. You will have access to several Linux workstations and a high performance computing cluster to run finite element simulations on 2000+ cores,
  • we have good contacts with the regional composite and additive manufacturing industry and regional universities, so you will come into contact with industrial applications of composites and related research in other universities,
  • you will get the chance to attend international conferences (e.g. ECCM, ICCM,…) and to present papers on these conferences. For those who are interested, an international exchange with another university is possible. As publications are increasingly important (also for your career afterwards), you are encouraged to publish your results not only on international conferences, but also in peer-reviewed international journals,
  • you will have a personal laptop and a private workspace. All PhD students and staff have their office in the same wing of the building. The laboratories are separate in another wing of the same building,
  • if you are just graduated (junior PhD student), your net income is about 1950 EUR per month. That is the amount of money that is deposited on your bank account every month (after taxes). If you have a dependent wife/husband and/or children, the salary is raised. Also seniority can be taken into account if you can show former relevant experience. The salary for postdoctoral researchers starts at 2450 EUR net income per month (after taxes).
  • the cost for the PhD study itself is very limited. Our education system is very different from for example the system in the United Kingdom. When you start your PhD study, you pay a once-only tuition fee of ca. 1000 EUR, and the rest of your study is free of charge,
  • the university offers compensations for public transport (train) and bicycle. The work location can be reached easily by public transport (train and tram/bus),
  • a hospitalization insurance policy can be concluded,
  • there are a lot of sport accommodations and other benefits (reductions on computer purchase, internet connection, fitness,…) for university personnel,
  • there are specific organizations for the international student community in Gent. There are ISAG (International Students Association Ghent) and ESN (European Students Network). They are quite active in organizing all sorts of events (Student Unions and Societies for international students).
  • Recently, a "China platform" and "India platform" have been founded for the benefit of Chinese and Indian students at Ghent University (see China platform and India Platform).

How to apply?

  • you write a detailed Curriculum Vitae in Dutch or English, containing:
  • your personal details (name, address, date of birth, nationality,…)
  • your education, subject of master thesis and degrees
  • your work experience (previous jobs)
  • additional skills (finite element software, programming languages, communication skills, …)
  • mastered languages (Dutch, English, French)
  • references (previous projects in the domain, published papers,…)

You send the C.V. by post or e-mail to the following person:

  • Prof. Wim VAN PAEPEGEM
  • Ghent University
  • Mechanics of Materials and Structures
  • Technologiepark-Zwijnaarde 903
  • 9052 Zwijnaarde
  • Belgium
  • Tel.: +32-(0)9-331.04.32
  • Fax: +32-(0)9-264.58.33
  • E-mail:

Additional information?

  • you can freely download our research brochure. This PDF-document contains a lot of pictures and impressions of our research activities. You can find it on the webpage
  • you can contact Prof. Wim VAN PAEPEGEM for any additional information, either by phone or e-mail or a personal appointment.

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