SLM tooling for die casting with conformal cooling channels

  • Antonio Armillotta
  • Raffaello Baraggi
  • Simone Fasoli


The paper reports an experimental study of die-casting dies with conformal cooling fabricated by direct-metal additive techniques. The main objective is to compare the benefits and limitations of the application to what has been widely discussed in literature in the context of plastics injection molding. Selective laser melting was used to fabricate an impression block with conformal cooling channels designed according to part geometry with the aid of process simulation. The tool was used in the manufacture of sample batches of zinc alloy castings after being fitted on an existing die in place of a machined impression block with conventional straight-line cooling channels. Different combinations of process parameters were tested to exploit the improved performance of the cooling system. Test results show that conformal cooling improves the surface finish of castings due to a reduced need of spray cooling, which is allowed by a higher and more uniform cooling rate. Secondary benefits include reduction of cycle time and shrinkage porosity.


Selective laser melting Rapid tooling Die casting Conformal cooling Spray cooling Surface finish 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Karunakaran KP, Bernard A, Suryakumar S, Dembiski L, Taillandier G (2012) Rapid manufacturing of metallic objects. Rapid Prototyp J 18(4):264–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ahn DG (2011) Applications of laser assisted metal rapid tooling process to manufacture of molding and forming tools: state of the art. Int J Precis Eng Manuf 12(5):925–938CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Sachs E, Wylonis E, Allen S, Cima M, Guo H (2000) Production of injection molding tooling with conformal cooling channels using the three-dimensional printing process. Polym Eng Sci 40(5):1232–1247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Xu X, Sachs E, Allen S (2001) The design of conformal cooling channels in injection molding tooling. Polym Eng Sci 41(7):1265–1279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dalgarno K, Stewart T (2001) Production tooling for polymer moulding using the RapidSteel process. Rapid Prototyp J 7(3):173–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dalgarno KW (2001) Production grade tooling via layer manufacture. Rapid Prototyp J 7(4):203–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ilyas I, Taylor C, Dalgarno K, Gosden J (2010) Design and manufacture of injection mould tool inserts produced using indirect SLS and machining processes. Rapid Prototyp J 16(6):429–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Liu J, Lu Z, Shi Y, Xu W, Zhang J (2010) Investigation into manufacturing injection mold via indirect selective laser sintering. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 48:155–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mayer S (2008) Optimised mould temperature control procedure using DMLS. Whitepaper EOS GmbH, KraillingGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ruffner T (2012) Conformal cooling using DMLS. Whitepaper, GPI Prototype and Manufacturing Services Inc, Lake BluffGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Rännar LE, Glad A, Gustafson CG (2007) Efficient cooling with tool inserts manufactured by electron beam melting. Rapid Prototyp J 13(3):128–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ahn DG, Park SH, Kim HS (2010) Manufacture of an injection mould with rapid and uniform cooling characteristics for the fan parts using a DMT process. Int J Precis Eng Manuf 11(6):915–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Wimpenny DI, Bryden B, Pashby IR (2003) Rapid laminated tooling. J Mater Process Technol 138:214–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Williams RE, Walczyk DF, Dang HT (2007) Using abrasive flow machining to seal and finish conformal cooling channels in laminated tooling. Rapid Prototyp J 13(2):64–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Yoo S, Walczyk DF (2007) A preliminary study of sealing and heat transfer performance of conformal channels and cooling fins in laminated tooling. Trans ASME J Manuf Sci Eng 129:388–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Yoo S (2008) Design of conformal cooling/heating channels for layered tooling. In Proc Int Conf Smart Manufacturing Application, April 9-11, 2008, Gyeonggi-do, KoreaGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Walczyk DF, Yoo S (2009) Design and fabrication of a laminated thermoforming tool with enhanced features. J Manuf Process 11:8–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ferreira JC, Mateus A (2003) Studies of rapid soft tooling with conformal cooling channels for plastic injection moulding. J Mater Process Technol 142:508–516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Knirsch JR (2007) Faster, less expensive dies using RSP tooling. J Mater Eng Perform 16(4):432–439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Saifullah ABM, Masood SH, Sbarski I (2011) Thermal-structural analysis of bi-metallic conformal cooling for injection moulds. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 62:123–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Yao D, Chen SC, Kim BH (2008) Rapid thermal cycling of injection molds: an overview of technical approaches and applications. Adv Polym Technol 27(4):233–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Xu RX, Sachs E (2009) Rapid thermal cycling with low thermal inertia tools. Polym Eng Sci 49(2):305–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Wang G, Zhao G, Li H, Guan Y (2011) Multi-objective optimization design of the heating/cooling channels of the steam-heating rapid thermal response mold using particle swarm optimization. Int J Therm Sci 50:790–802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Au KM, Yu KM (2007) A scaffolding architecture for conformal cooling design in rapid plastic injection moulding. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 34:496–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Au KM, Yu KM (2011) Modeling of multi-connected porous passageway for mould cooling. Comput Aided Des 43:989–1000CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Au KM, Yu KM, Chiu WK (2011) Visibility-based conformal cooling channel generation for rapid tooling. Comput Aided Des 43:356–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Wang Y, Yu KM, Wang CCL, Zhang Y (2011) Automatic design of conformal cooling circuits for rapid tooling. Comput Aided Des 43:1001–1010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Lin ZC, Chou MH (2002) Design of the cooling channels in nonrectangular plastic flat injection mold. J Manuf Sys 21(3):167–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Park HS, Pham NH (2009) Design of conformal cooling channels for an automotive part. Int J Automot Technol 10(1):87–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Park HS, Dang XP (2010) Optimization of conformal cooling channels with array of baffles for plastic injection mold. Int J Precis Eng Manuf 11(6):879–890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Dang XP, Park HS (2011) Design of U-shape milled groove conformal cooling channels for plastic injection mold. Int J Precis Eng Manuf 12(1):73–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ahari H, Kajepour A, Bedi S (2011) Manufacturing optimization of laminated tooling with conformal cooling channels. Rapid Prototyp J 17(6):429–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Altaf K, Raghavan VR, Rani AMA (2011) Comparative thermal analysis of circular and profiled cooling channels for injection mold tools. J Appl Sci 11(11):2068–2071CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Furumoto T, Ueda T, Amino T, Kusunoki D, Hosokawa A, Tanaka R (2012) Finishing performance of cooling channel with face protuberance inside the molding die. J Mater Process Technol 212(10):2154–2160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Dimla DE, Camilotto M, Miani F (2005) Design and optimisation of conformal cooling channels in injection moulding tools. J Mater Process Technol 164–165:1294–1300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Hassan H, Regnier N, Lebot C, Pujos C, Defaye G (2009) Effect of cooling system on the polymer temperature and solidification during injection molding. Appl Therm Eng 29:1786–1791CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Hassan H, Regnier N, Le Bot C, Defaye G (2010) 3D study of cooling system effect on the heat transfer during polymer injection molding. Int J Therm Sci 49:161–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Zheng Z, Zhang H, Wang G, Qian Y (2011) Finite element analysis on the injection molding and productivity of conformal cooling channel. J Shanghai Jiaotong Univ Sci 16(2):231–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Norwood AJ, Dickens PM, Soar RC, Harris R, Gibbons G, Hansell R (2004) Analysis of cooling channel performance. Int J Comput Integr Manuf 17(8):669–678CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Takayama T, Takahashi T, Sano M (2004) Cooling arrangement for die-casting metal mold. US Patent No 6,698,496 B2.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Pessard E, Mognol P, Hascoët JY, Gerometta C (2008) Complex cast parts with rapid tooling: rapid manufacturing point of view. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 39:898–904CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Mohammed J (2007) Manufacturing die casting molds via Direct Metal Deposition (DMD). SME Tech Pap TP07PUB70Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Knirsch JR (2008) Prototype die casting using RSP technology. SME Tech Pap TP08PUB37Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Bounds S, Davey K, Hinduja S (2000) An experimental and numerical investigation into the thermal behavior of the pressure die casting process. Trans ASME J Manuf Sci Eng 122:90–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Clark LD, Davey K, Hinduja S (2001) Novel cooling channel shapes in pressure die casting. Int J Numer Method Eng 50:2411–2440CrossRefMATHGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Lin JC (2003) The optimal design of a cooling system for die-casting die with a free form surface. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 21:612–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Vinarcik EJ (2003) High integrity die casting processes. Wiley, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Liu GW, Morsi YS, Clayton BR (2000) Characterisation of the spray cooling heat transfer involved in a high pressure die casting process. Int J Therm Sci 39:582–591CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Sabau AS, Wu Z (2007) Evaluation of a heat flux sensor for spray cooling for the die casting processes. J Mater Process Technol 182:312–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Sabau AS, Dinwiddie RB (2008) Characterisation of spray lubricants for the high pressure die casting processes. J Mater Process Technol 195:267–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Ferreira JC (2006) A study of advanced die-casting technology integrating CAD/RP/FEA for Zn casting. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 31:235–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Armillotta
    • 1
  • Raffaello Baraggi
    • 1
  • Simone Fasoli
    • 2
  1. 1.Dipartimento di MeccanicaPolitecnico di MilanoMilanItaly
  2. 2.Bruschi SpAAbbiategrassoItaly

Personalised recommendations